The Goods 9/2/23
American Tabloid by James Ellroy
I took a long time to read this. I typically read novels slowly and pick up a book or two in between. This novel was one of the best I've read. Ellroy's style is raw and straight to the point. This novel has the thing I like: it's a massive accumulation of facts and images. Ellroy shows and tells to a good effect. Any poetic triumphs come from characters acting morally or immorally in desperate situations. Personally, that is when fiction has the most magic for me. It's like hypnotism.
The book is set between 1958 and 1963 in the underworld leading up to JFK's election and its conclusion. We follow a pseudo-con-man, undercover FBI agent, Kennedy Attache; Kemper Boyd, down-and-out leftist FBI agent Ward Littel, Hollywood scumbag, and henchman/Canadian Frenchman Pete Bondurant.
CIA, FBI, Cuban exiles, the Mob, and the Kennedys significantly influence the plot. JFK, RFK, and J. Edgar Hoover all make appearances throughout. It's an exciting read, considering RFK Jr. is running for president. I've known for a while that politics and world affairs were way too big and messy to give a fuck about. It's always a losing game, so you might as well laugh at it. This book shows the human conniving side very well, but not in a moralistic way, more matter of fact, which makes me enjoy the real-life implications. It's all a bunch of sharks fighting for your money and attention. Let them dance.
The Lives of Others (German Film)
This movie takes place in East Germany in the 1970s or 1980s. It's hard to tell which decade because communism was such a purgatory of culture. We follow a Stasi agent spying on a subversive writer and his girlfriend, an actress. Great movie. Spy stuff is so cool. So are insane political regimes in the context of movies.