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James Ellroy  

L.A. Noir Crime Writer and Social Commentator, Author of "L.A. Confidential"

A master of noir crime fiction, Ellroy has up close and personal knowledge of the world of crime. His life, detailed in his memoir, "The Hilliker Curse," has been shadowed by a gruesome event: the unsolved murder of his mother when he was a child. Her murder unleashed a force that has propelled Ellroy’s work. Ellroy channeled his anguish and transformed himself into an outsized public persona: an audacious, uncompromising, and unapologetic chronicler of humanity’s dark side. James Ellroy is masterly at speaking, his own backstory as riveting as any in fiction.

As a novelist, screenwriter, essayist, and memoirist, James Ellroy is more closely identified with Los Angeles than any writer since Raymond Chandler. Nearly all of his writing is set in Los Angeles, in the rough, racist, pre-Miranda Los Angeles of the decade following the Second World War. Four of his novels—"The Black Dahlia," "The Big Nowhere," "L.A. Confidential" (an Academy Award winning-movie), and "White Jazz"—are collectively known as the L.A. Quartet. His novels "American Tabloid," "The Cold Six Thousand," and "Blood’s A Rover form the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy," and "American Tabloid" and his memoir, "My Dark Places," were both named as Time magazine’s Best Book of the Year, respectively.

Curtis Hanson directed the blockbuster film adaptation of "L.A. Confidential" (1997) in which (as in the book), everything is suspect, everyone is for sale, and nothing is what it seems. The Black Dahlia, directed by Brian De Palma, was released in 2006. Ellroy himself has been the subject of seven documentary films, including Feast of Death, by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Vikram Jayanti.

Speech Topics


Caldron: L.A. After the War

This jazzy lecture -- spieled entirely in my alliterative, syncopated verbal style -- is a deft and hilarious recounting of post-World War II Los Angeles, replete with police scandals, baffling sex murders, political chicanery, land grabs, labor battles and witch hunts.

Film Noir: The Shadowed Inferno

This lecture is no less than a cultural history of Los Angeles and America at large from 1945 to 1960. It's bombastic, it's profane, it's full of grotesque characters from the most scrutinized genre of worldwide cinema. Bent cops, nymphos, corrupt D.A.'s, hophead jazz musicians and homosexual informants abound.

Memoir as Madness and Moral Mission

This provocative lecture is an actual how-to primer on the memoir form, as exemplified by my own two Knopf/Vintage memoirs, My Dark Places and The Hilliker Curse, as well as a treatise on the reader/writer symbiosis that results in that powerful memoir alchemy. This lecture is wild juju -- and a gassy look at my own tortured and transcendent soul!

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