Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Ben of Dead End Follies liked Zadie Smith in her beautiful red dress as much as I did. "I believe that somebody's soul drips out when they have too much of it," he said. "Goes in their style, in their actions, in their clothing. If first impressions are ever so important, it's because you can tell a lot from them." Who would disagree?!

He then shared this badass photograph of James Ellroy with me. Isn't it perfection? The double-breasted pin-stripe suit, the white shirt and silk tie are clear references to classic American mobster dresscode and are, in my mind, pure sartorial fuckery. It is Ellroy, afterall, who says the following about himself:

I am a master of fiction. I am also the greatest crime novelist who ever lived. I am to the crime novel in specific what Tolstoy is to the Russian novel and what Beethoven is to music

This photo exchange made me wish that perhaps you'd want to join our conversation, too! Post a comment or send me an email and tell me which literary figure's style you admire the most. If you have a favorite photograph, send that on as well. If not, I promise to do some research for you! I promise to post all contributions and I am already thinking about several more photographs that I have collected over the years and have offered what I think is an intimate glimpse in the inner lives of my favorite writers.

Maybe we can make this into a regular feature here on The Migrant Bookclub?

Source: image | text


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  1. I LOVE this quote you found and it's not that far from the truth. If I had a top 10 of best crime novelists of all-time, Ellroy would be in there. Maybe even in the top 5. KILLER ON THE ROAD and the L.A Quartet had a huge impact on me and are no strange to the fact that I write crime now.

    But here's what you need to know about him. Ellroy isn't too crazy about the media, so whenever he has to do press, he puts on his madman persona. Which prompted some of the greatest moments in the history of television. Such as this:

  2. James Ellroy and Ross Macdonald remain the big influences in my writing. Stylistically they are different, but Ellroy evolved into his current clipped style from a more traditional phraseology. Macdonald kept his poetic tendencies throughout his career and I love him for it.

    I read a recent interview where Ellroy suggested he probably needs to get back to a more user friendly manner of writing. Doesn't matter to me- I'll read his work any way he puts it out.

    And Ellroy really is the madman. When so many authors, actors and artists are holding their tongues for PC purposes, Ellroy just lets fly what's on his mind. Fucking dig him for that.

  3. Julio Cortázar

  4. Ben:
    I think I read somewhere that Ellroy is madly AGAINST Facebook, too. Am I remembering that correctly or did I make it up?

    Thank you for your note! I don't know Ellroy very well but while I was doing research for this particular post, I found several articles in which people discussed his strange sense of humor and how often people think he's insane when he's simply fucking with whoever happens to be interviewing him. I also read that he mostly does that to people he does not hold in high esteem. I so wish I could be that way!

    Can I get a public promise from you to submit a story about the style of Julio Cortazar? Yes?

  5. Petyacho, ne mi davai zor!

    Maitab, of course I'll do it.

  6. I love Cortázar too!
    But the two writers' portraits I find most (nicely) surprising of all that I've seen are:
    Walt Whitman
    Georges Perec