James Ellroy in Madrid with his new novel: Panic

Photographs: (c) MariolaDCA

I'm losing it a little bit, but no. James Ellroy has returned to Spain to present his new novel, Panic, and goes until the 6th of a visit by Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. The enormous Los Angeles writer of (more than) black novels is still enormous in a figurative and literal sense and has not lost an iota of his legendary histrionics but also closeness to him. Last Friday the 29th signed copies of the book to a few readers of his most faithful parish that we stopped by Fnac Callao to greet him, wearing a mask, that the dog does not bite but we all remain cautious. The best of all: seeing that the great international authors once again move around the world.

James Ellroy for friends and the Mad Dog for all

There is little to say about James Ellroy now and they are various items that I have dedicated for this blog. One of my reference authors of the darkest genre, stark and, also sometimes, devilishly complicated to read because of his unique and personal style. Of short phrases as a telegram and united by a syntax full of alliterations, onomatopoeia, Angelina slang, of the genre and of the time in which he sets his novels. And it is that Ellroy is not for all audiences or readers. Even the most experienced of us have been stuck with some titles, which are also generally extensive.

East Panic It is quite a transgression because it stays in 364 pages, but he already warns, that he told me when I pointed it out to him, in that pasty and serious English: «The next one will be bigger». In other words, at the age of 74, which he turned last March 4, with a life transcended to character of his novels but surpassing them all, he is still in the gap and wanting to bite.

In Madrid — Fnac Callao — April 29. 18:30 p.m.

Few parishioners for a Friday in the afternoon in the center of Madrid and at the beginning of the capital bridge, but what has been said, very faithful and well equipped with the new title. Ellroy did not wait long and, before beginning, he walked through the fourth floor where the signing was to take place. A good part of the rest of the clients who walked by did not even notice him, and it will not be because he is not seen. One minor disappointment was that he was not wearing his usual Hawaiian shirt uniform, which contrasts so much with his tall, lanky physique and fearsome mannerisms who knows how to cultivate so well and imposes a lot on the staff. She appeared very formal, with a blue jacket, but then she stayed in a short-sleeved shirt to get to work.

However, and having already measured distances with him after his last visit in 2019, you know that in short distances, both for the tone and for the cordiality, that gesture is just a pose. So he starts talking to you as if he knew you or had seen you the day before. Also, since there weren't many people, she calmly entertained herself with everyone, posing for photos and chatting smoothly with each other. That dog even drew me, speaking broken Spanish and commenting on that visit on the 19th when he was presenting This storm.

Vile revenge. Wildly wrong in hindsight. A crack in the crypt of my soul.


It is based on the real character that was freddy otash, an underground figure in Los Angeles of the fifties, a recurring decade in Ellroy's novels.

otash is a corrupt ex-cop disgraced for having cold-bloodedly removed a cop killer. LAPD chief William Parker fires him. reconverted into private detective with a bad reputation, is also dedicated to the extortion and above all he is the boss thug of Confidential, the gossip magazine about the weaknesses and secrets of movie stars, politicians and people from high society. So through the pages of Panic Jack regulars parade Kennedy, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Liz Taylor or Rock Hudson. And the portrait about them and that time is once again anything but complacent.

His universe is once again the one that Ellroy has always passed through, that he has said more than once that he the present does not interest him at all because he lives in the past. And she doesn't have to swear to it.

Writing in first person, is a confession at the end of his life (Otash died in 1992) that jumps between times. With that corrosive and convoluted style, which sets the rhythm for you with each phrase hit, like a shot or a linguistic watermark like few authors manage to create.

It is the lexicon of plain and simple truth. It is the dialogue of dimes and diretes. It is the despicable smear and the thrill of the threat. I think and write through algorithmic alliteration. Language must raise the whip and lacerate. Language liberates as well as offends.

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