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    Before, During, After

    Richard Bausch 9780307266262

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This title in other editions

My Dark Places: An L.A. Crime Memoir


My Dark Places: An L.A. Crime Memoir Cover




My father put me in a cab at the El Monte depot. He paid the driver and told him to drop me at Bryant and Maple.

I didn't want to go back. I didn't want to leave my father. I wanted to blow off El Monte forever.

It was hot--maybe ten degrees more than L.A. The driver took Tyler north to Bryant and cut east. He turned on Maple and stopped the cab.

I saw police cars and official-type sedans parked at the curb. I saw uniformed men and men in suits standing in my front yard.

I knew she was dead. This is not a revised memory or a retrospective hunch. I knew it in the moment--at age ten--on Sunday, June 22nd, 1958.

I walked into the yard. Somebody said, "There's the boy." I saw Mr. and Mrs. Krycki standing by their back door.

A man took me aside and kneeled down to my level. He said, "Son, your mother's been killed."

I knew he meant "murdered." I probably trembled or shuddered or weaved a little bit.

The man asked me where my father was. I told him he was back at the bus station. A half-dozen men crowded around me. They leaned on their knees and checked me out up-close.

They saw one lucky kid.

A cop split for the bus station. A man with a camera walked me back to Mr. Krycki's toolshed.

He put an awl in my hand and posed me at a workbench. I held on to a small block of wood and pretended to saw at it. I faced the camera-- and did not blink or smile or cry or betray my internal equilibrium.

The photographer stood in a doorway. The cops stood behind him. I had a rapt audience.

The photographer shot some film and urged me to improvise. I hunched over the wood and sawed at it with a half-smile/ half-grimace. The cops laughed. I laughed. Flashbulbs popped.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Ellroy, James
Vintage Books
New York :
Mothers and sons
Novelists, American
Los angeles
Murder -- California -- Los Angeles.
Mothers and sons -- California -- Los Angeles.
Murder - General
Novelists, American -- 20th century.
Crime - True Crime
memoir;crime;true crime;autobiography;non-fiction;biography;murder;noir;mystery;los angeles;fiction;california;thriller;detective;20th century;novel;usa;american literature;mother;family
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
no. 64-088
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5.1 x 0.4 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime

My Dark Places: An L.A. Crime Memoir Used Trade Paper
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Product details 448 pages Vintage,1997. - English 9780679762058 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

James Ellroy is the heir apparent to Raymond Chandler. His dark, convoluted, steroid-infused crime novels have made him the reigning king of LA Noir. Ellroy's stylized prose is "so hard-boiled it burns the pot" and his outlook is as cynical as a frog in a frying pan. In his own words, Ellroy's LA novels "run antithetical to your standard crime fiction sensibility, which is usually a noble loner working against authority. I think my books are about bad men doing bad things in the name of authority." But this cynicism is countered by an infectious passion, a palpable energy that makes each Ellroy novel riveting and compelling. In My Dark Places, his gave readers a glimpse into the genesis of both his bleak outlook and the obsessive force that propels each novel.

In 1958, when James Ellroy was ten years old, his mother was brutally murdered. The crime was never solved. During his teenage years, young James became obsessed with the infamous Black Dahlia case, which was similar in many respects to his mother's murder. He then moved on to murdered women in general. His mother's memory haunted him for years. He first tried to escape her memory through drugs, and then he to exercise it through writing (for example, in his novel about the Black Dahlia case, he "solves" the crime). Neither worked. So he set out instead to write a nonfiction account of his mother. He teamed up with retired homicide detective Bill Stoner and set out to solve the case, now several decades old. Where their investigation failed, Ellroy's painfully honest account of the ordeal did not. Whether hailed a classic of its kind (though, for what it's worth, this quirky book is in a genre of its own), or reviled as the worst kind of exploitation, My Dark Places is a stunning achievement. Haunting, disgusting, fascinating, and brutally, Oedipally honest, this is one book no reader will forget.

"Review" by , "My Dark Places is a genre-busting, oddball classic. A creepy primer on murder's also packed with enough raunchy mother love to make you want to wash your hands between chapters. And Ellroy's rat-a-tat-tat narration gives his self-lacerating account a sense of brakeless free fall. This is literary necrophilia that Poe might envy. Ellroy is a haunted man, and more than writer enough to haunt anyone who hears his tale."
"Review" by , "Much of the memoir is taken up with a detailed account of the doomed investigation. But at the heart of the work is Mr. Ellroy's tortured attempt to resurrect his mother ('to dance with the redhead,' as he puts it), to repair his stupendous loss — and to piece himself together in the process. What he has produced can't be neatly categorized. It is a kind of hard-boiled Bildungsroman; and it may be the mother of all mother-and-son stories."
"Review" by , "Ellroy's search for her killer ultimately became a quest for his mother's true identity. A cathartic journey for Ellroy that will appeal to his readers."
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