Posted: Apr 20, 2006 6:17 pm |
Edited by: Uptight White
Excerpts from my favorite Onion A/V interview with James Ellroy from 2004:
O: The last time we spoke with you, you described yourself as "an uptight, rich, square-ass, WASP motherfucker." Does that description still fit?
JE: Well, of course, there's a little bit of the tongue-in-cheek in there, given the kind of shit that I write about. That's the persona that I've adopted, and there are great elements of truth in that. But I sure as hell have a wild imagination for a motherfucker like that.
O: The "uptight" tag seems least appropriate, given where you come from and what you write about.
JE: I think what I was commenting on there was the fact that I despise sordidness and low-life, and avoided it at all costs. I like wholesome, homogenous, peaceful surroundings and amenable people. In that case, L.A. is out, Chicago would be out, New York would be out. The Monterey Peninsula suits me just fine.
O: During this year's election, Slate.com polled novelists about their political leanings, and they were overwhelmingly for John Kerry. Why are most novelists Democrats?
JE: Because they're misguided humanists. I would never say whom I'm voting for. I actually don't like that whole "Let's weigh in because we're a name" sensibility. I avoid that question.
O: That must be partly due to the rarity of encountering an author who doesn't toe the liberal line on most issues.
JE: Oh, I'm not a liberal. People have figured that out. The third novella in Destination: Morgue! is called "Jungletown Jihad." It starts out with [an appearance by an] informant, Habid Rashad, a male Arab. This has got "Rhino" Rick Jensen, the narrator, and his cop partners knocking on the door of the informant. When he opens up, I describe him as a "full-drag dune coon" in a "Hussein-esque house smock" and a "boss burnoose from Bin Laden's Boutique." One cop laughs, and the other says, "Hey, Ahab the A-rab, where's your camel, motherfucker?" The walkouts I get from reading this are hilarious. I was just at a book fair in the South. I knew I'd get 10 liberals and 10 Christians walking out, and I did.
O: That must be something you deal with all the time: people confusing your characters' racism for your own.
JE: You know what? Call me racist, and call me a xenophobe, but I'm not wild about Arab terrorists. I think they're a bunch of camel-fucking motherfuckers. And I want to make fun of them, because I'm a bad guy. And anyone out there who doesn't like it can kiss my ass. It's saying it that's so much fun. I'll admit, in some ways, even though I'm 56 years old, and dare I say a great artist and a wonderful human being and all that, and reasonably sensitive, there's just some part of me that's immature, that likes fucking over people and pissing them off