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Blood's a Rover by James Ellroy

Blood's a Rover (2009)

by James Ellroy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Underworld USA (3)

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English (6)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Blood’s a Rover is garbage. I quit after about two hundred pages in to this roughly six hundred fifty-page book. The characters are poorly developed and they’re all the same. The book is too intense. There’s way too much violence. And the choppy sentences are annoying. What a disappointment.

Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere, one of his earlier books, is a much better novel. Although it’s pretty gory, it’s a wonderful read anyway. The plot—talk about intricate!—is amazing, the ’50s lingo is quaint, and the anti-Jewish, anti-black, anti-gay stuff does not irritate for some reason. Maybe it’s that the reader realizes that the author is being true to form. Or shall we say, true to that time. That is, in part, what noir is. After all, we can’t expect so-called political correctness from a book written in the ’50s or from a book in which the author strives to write in a narrative voice indicative of the ’50s. But with Blood’s a Rover, something is just not right, despite the fact that the late-’60s–early-’70s setting is still pre-political correctness: all the hatred from all the white straight men just gets old. And it can’t be said that you begin to loathe the protagonists, because they’re really antagonists! You start to detest every one of them and you wonder how these jerks get to get away with murder. Not meaning to sound naïve here: everybody knows that there are high-level operatives in the real world who get away with all sorts of nefarious actions because we the “squarejohns” are too wussy or too unenlightened to stop them. But Blood’s a Rover isn’t about that at all. It has nothing to do, for instance, with how the power elite or the New World Order conspiracy crowd and those behind the scenes of the high-ranking politicians and the international bankers and the Hollywood moguls run everything. It’s about mid- to higher-level [expletives deleted] who run around deciding what mid- to lower-level folks get to live or die. What an awful taste all of this matter-of-fact killing—with no apparent purpose—leaves in your mouth. I guess if I do read other books by this author, I’ll have to stick with the older ones. ( )
1 vote brian5764 | Feb 7, 2013 |
In the past, I've enjoyed Ellroy's writing. I've read this trilogy with an increasing sense of disappointment each step of the way. The conspiracy theories behind these novels are derivative and tired. the characters unlikable and unlikely. The language, more and more, a kind of faux-gritty ("so contrived, it's hyper-real!" we hear the announcer bark) that achieves a level of unintended humor in this last novel. Though it's not even funny for long.

Ellroy's writing now seems to come out of a place where Ellroy says he knows what's real, he knows the truth behind the illusion. he knows how people really live & talk & how the big events really come down.

But the sad truth behind these books is that what Ellroy really knows is a very little, very circumscribed world akin to a masturbatory fantasy. And he knows that some people will be sucker enough to buy into it. Sad. ( )
  ehines | Jan 18, 2012 |
A long, complex novel which befits the last of the trilogy. It's a worthy although long-winded challenge to get through it and I didn't enjoy it as much as parts one (American Tabloid) or two (The Cold Six Thousand) and overall still prefer the LA Confidential trilogy. ( )
1 vote andy475uk | Nov 14, 2010 |
Incredibly complex and it does not always seem necessary.
The story is definitely compelling but it makes me think of these movies: everything is here, well written of course but way too long. ( )
  sinaloa237 | May 2, 2010 |
Whatever your view about James Ellroy, his Underworld USA trilogy is quite a piece of work and Blood's A Rover, its culmination, is one hell of a way to go out. He may have had the indelicacy to say it, but having closed the cover it's hard to disagree with Ellroy's own assessment of this novel's matchless quality. This is a really, really outstanding novel from an outstanding and unique writer.

Many of Ellroy's stylistic hallmarks, love 'em or hate 'em (for the record, I love 'em) are here: grandiloquent authorial claims to greatness, unremittingly bleak Hobbesian worldview (though here it is ultimately, if brutally, suffused with a sort of redemption), casual and unsettlingly entertaining violence and depravity, assorted strands of bigotry and a Byzantine, conspiracy-theory-goosing plot - all counterpointed with almost unbearably sparse, non-adjectival prose. It's all here. Most remarkable is the book's style and economy. James Ellroy says the plot outline for Blood's A Rover ran to 400 pages; the finished article is well shy of 650. In the hands of any other writer, this sort of enterprise would never get done short of 1500.

On that score, many detractors bitterly and bizarrely complain about Ellroy's prose style. On this site, the weaker ones lampoon it poorly. I find this complaint particularly absurd. If you like your prose style conventional, stay away: there are literally millions of workaday writers whose published works will keep you happy in your reading till your dying day. If there are millions of elegant stylists; there's only one James Ellroy; I can't think of another author (perhaps Cormac McCarthy) with as singular a stylistic vision, let alone such a stubbornness and bloody-minded commitment to his craft. Celebrate a writer with the talent, attitude and fortitude to do something different.

Ellroy's writing generally, and the Underworld USA series particularly, take some getting used to, for sure - it's virtually a dialect: a condensed, shorthand patois where half as many words carry twice as much content as conventional sentence. The temptation is to study every word hard, so as not to miss a vital clue. But to do this is to miss the vibrancy, the flow, the rhythm - the *vibe* - which is as important to grasp as the content itself. Like waterskiing, you need to aquaplane through the text to manage it.

And when you do, it's just exhilarating reading - short passages magically concertina into complex images. On the other hand, Ellroy's narrative method counterpoints the curtness of his prose: he tends to reframe the same information from multiple perspectives (the book is told from the point of view of three principle protagonists, together with diaries, reports and transcripts of conversations between half a dozen others), so if you keep the speed up, the shorthand argot miraculously and brilliantly coheres. At times it's like beat poetry; it syncopates, it grooves.

For all that (and despite some claims to the contrary) James Ellroy *has* eased up his prose styling from the three-word sentence limit on display in The Cold Six Thousand. Particularly with some helpful expository diaries, this is an easier - but no less rewarding - read.

The book's unusual title, taken from an A E Housman poem, jars at first - difficult at first glance to see the resonance between late 20th century American high-political intrigue and 19th century English poem cycle called A Shropshire Lad, conjuring as it does images of a cloth-capped teen in tweed plus-fours wheeling an iron bicycle up a narrow country lane. But Housman's work, in its way, was as unrelentingly grim an essay on the waste of life as is Ellroy's: a sort of grim inversion of a carpe diem where the moral is "don't lie a-bed, lad - get up and get out there ... But, come to think of it, while you're hard at it fighting Boers and so forth, most likely your best mate will be busily stealing your sweetheart away".

Now there is a "lad" herein - Don Crutchfield - who in his ascribed habits and history (a small time private eye with a missing mother and a penchant for popping pills and peeping windows) bears no small resemblance to a certain J Ellroy (as revealed in the autobiographical My Dark Places), so you do wonder whether the title and character are some sort of note to self.

In any case it's an extraordinary note. Without a doubt one of the best books of the decade. ( )
3 vote ElectricRay | Jan 6, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This is lurid material treated luridly, but with beauty and heft.
If this sounds confusing, it's also classic noir, which isn't about plot so much as drawing the reader into an entire world—from Communist Cuba to the seedy underbelly of Vegas.
The prose has calmed down, too; it’s gone off the caffeine. It needed to—Blood’s a Rover is a more thoughtful, searching book than its predecessors.
Ellroy's bleak, brooding worldview, his dense, demanding style and his unflinching descriptions of extreme violence will almost certainly alienate large numbers of readers. But anyone who succumbs to the sheer tidal force of these novels will experience something darker, stranger and more compelling than almost anything else contemporary fiction has to offer.
In "Blood's a Rover," sleaze and skullduggery and dread drip off every page, and Ellroy has built both a myth and a monument. It'll blow your mind. From the gutter to the stars.

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Costigliola, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey's over
There'll be time enough for sleep.
A. E. Housman
Comrade: For Everything You Gave Me
First words
HEROIN: He'd rigged a lab in his hotel suite. Beakers, vats and Bunsen burners filled up wall shelves. A three-burner hot plate juked small-batch conversions. He was cooking painkiller-grade product. He hadn't cooked dope since Saigon.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679403930, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2009: James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet novels chronicled a cynic's take on Los Angeles cops and robbers, carving a dark and creepy nook for the author in the world of crime fiction. With Blood's a Rover, Ellroy completes his Underworld USA trilogy, an epic reinvention of American history, politics, and corruption. This book comes out firing: Ellroy's hipster prose--inimitable for its high style and spectacular energy--snaps and surges through more than 600 pages like black electricity, shocking the gentle reader from page one. Opening with a heist scene rendered as coldly violent as anything from Sam Peckinpah's most sociopathic fantasies, the story hurls itself across an improbable crazy quilt plot, including Howard Hughes's Vegas power-play, political abuses and machinations in Hoover's FBI, and the mob's ubiquitous shadow, darkening everything from JFK's assassination to Nixon's 1968 Presidential campaign. Another audacious effort from a one-of-a-kind talent, Blood's a Rover is thrilling and exhausting, a gloriously guilty pleasure. --Jon Foro

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:58 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Summer, 1968. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy are dead. The assassination conspiracies have begun to unravel. A dirty-tricks squad is getting ready to deploy at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Black militants are warring in southside L.A. The Feds are concocting draconian countermeasures. And fate has placed three men at the vortex of history. A stand-alone sequel to The Cold Six Thousand.… (more)

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