Wednesday, November 23, 2005

JFK Continued - A Mini-Review of "American Tabloid"

In keeping with the theme of yesterday’s Blog – remembering the events in Dallas on November 22, 1963 – I offer a few words about the novel “American Tabloid.”

I do not fully understand why I am drawn to film noir. I don’t particularly like the fact that I am drawn to this genre, but drawn I am. It feels like a guilty pleasure. One of the best films in recent memory of that genre was “L.A. Confidential.” The screenplay for this film was based on a novel by James Elroy. So, when I saw another novel by Elroy, I grabbed it. “American Tabloid” is a raw tour de force of political intrigue and double-dealing. Throughout the development of the story line, Elroy throws together an interesting stew of characters and scenarios that simmer for over 500 pages until it reaches a boiling point in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

The novel ends just before the pulling of the trigger, but it sets us up to understand how such a horrific event could have been conceived and carried out. Elroy concocts a very plausible backstory to the Kennedy assassination that throws into complex competition and cooperation such disparate forces as Jimmy Hoffa, J. Edgar Hoover, The Kennedy clan, The CIA, Howard Hughes, Fidel Castro, The Chicago and Miami Mob and a zesty potpourri of minor thugs and ne’er-do-wells who perform an intricate dance of deception and death.

Elroy does not strike me as someone most of us would be comfortable bringing home to mother for Thanksgiving dinner, but he is a hell of a storyteller.


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