January 21st, 2010

James Ellroy Montpellier Long Wrap Up

So, there were two events - a book signing at 5:30 and then a book reading and Q & A at 7:30.

Rome Girl couldn't make the book signing, but my client wasn't bugging me for anything so I headed off to it. And man, there were like 600 or 700 people there. I had no idea that the French went so nuts for American authors.

I quickly discovered that an Ellroy book signing is not your typical "What's your name? Ok, here you go, next person please" type of thing.

He turned it into a show. One girl had six books and he stood up and screamed "She bought six books! Six books! Let that be an example to you all!"

Note, he didn't have a translator and speaks no French so all of this was a bit mystifying.

One girl wrote her name on a slip of paper to make it easy for him. Her name was Jennifer.

"Are you American," he asked.

"Francais," she said haltingly.

"How the hell did you get an American name, sister," he asked.

Another girl came up and had one book. He was like "Just one?"

She tried to speak English and it came out as "read.... others... before."

"Did you read them in English?"


"Well buy em in English, sister, and you can learn the language!"

Note: This was not mean at all. It was mostly P.T. Barnum stuff.

When I got up there I told him about Miss M getting book signed for me.

He responded "Brother, all these books signings just become one" but signed it "The Reverend James Ellroy" anyway.

The reading was like being at a Broadway show. As he read the chapters he essentially became the characters. He acted out parts (including a reference to jerking off) changed voices and spoke like the voice of God as narrator.

Then, he took questions and took them seriously.

Rome Girl asked about Pete Bondurant - a character who was in White Jazz, American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand, but only briefly appeared in Blood's A Rover.

He said he was moving on from that character and then went on to tell her what happened to him for the next 40 years of his life.

I asked him if he was ever going to write in the style of White Jazz again. He told me that was over because his ex-wife didn't like the style and even though she's his ex, she's a better writer than he is so he's going to take her advice.

The only time he got testy was when a French dude asked a long involved patronizing question about American racism and concluded with "Are things different today?"

He just barked out "Yes. Next question."

One of the things I thought was telling was that someone told him his books were like poetry and asked him what poets he liked.

He said that the only poet he likes is Anne Sexton whom he described as a descendant of Shakespere.

One of my friends was doing the translating for the Q&A section so when it was over we went up to say hi to her.

Ellroy looked over, stuck out his hand and said "I know you."

Jeanette then introduced Rome Girl and she handed him her worn, well read copy of American Tabloid.

"James," she started to say while tears formed in her eyes. "I love you fierce in danger." which is the last line to White Jazz.

He paused for a minute and said "That's the last line from one of my books."

She said, "Yeah. Tell me everything. Tell me anything. Love me fierce in danger."

He said, "You memorized the last paragraph of White Jazz?"

She said "Yeah."

He then signed Rome Girl's book, shook my hand again and said "You honor me, brother. You honor me, sister . You honor me. You honor me."

Photo Post

Courtney Love was filming VH1: Behind the music yesterday and as such mostly just posted pictures from getting ready for the shoot and from a recent gig. I'm posting two of the best pictures here while I search to see if there is anything translation worthy for the other blog.