Quien es Mas Noir: James Crumley and James Ellroy are Coming to Town

The stars in tough-guy heaven will shine on Austin, Texas on Friday, December 6. Not one but two of the toughest, most important writers of hardboiled crime fiction will be in Austin to meet their fans and sign their new books. Former Texan James Crumley (The Wrong Case, Mexican Tree Duck) will be in town to sign his latest, Bordersnakes, in which the protagonists from both of his landmark series (Milo from The Wrong Case and Sughrue from The Last Good Kiss and The Mexican Tree Duck) combine forces for at least twice the mayhem and dark humor. Crumley isn't the most prolific of crime writers, but there are many of us who will trade one
new title of his for half a dozen of the also-rans. Personal appearances by him are also rare, making this an especially special event.

And then there's Ellroy. Best known for his L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, White Jazz), Ellroy's newest is My Dark Places, the true account of his search for the man who murdered his mother in 1958, when Ellroy was 10 years old. Living with his father, whom he describes as a "Hollywood bottom feeder," Ellroy "grew up weird," a self-described "nihilistic shit bird" obsessed with resentful memories of his mother, and fell into a life of petty crime, drugs, booze, and fascination with pulp crime fiction and True Detective stories. The similarities between the murder of his mother and the celebrated Black Dahlia case gradually became a point of focus and an outlet for his obsessions, a little bit of that psycho-history finding its way into each of the modestly selling L.A. mystery novels he wrote in the late Seventies and early Eighties. With The Black Dahlia, Ellroy's fixation with Black Dahlia and his own mother (both cases remain unsolved) began to move to the forefront. At the same time, his books became international bestsellers. Ellroy has taken the American noir tradition to new heights and new depths of darkness by hyperventilating the hardboiled style and supercharging it with his own psycho-history, producing books that explode in the reader's face, leaving ugly and jagged fragments embedded in your psyche long after the story is over. Expect no less when Ellroy looks in his own rear view mirror and takes notes in his own feverish, inimicable style.

James Ellroy will read from My Dark Places and sign books at Barnes & Noble at the Arboretum on Friday, 7-9pm. The unholy conflict is that James Crumley will be at BookStop Central Park on Friday, 7-9pm. But he will also be dropping by Adventures in Crime and Space earlier in the day. Call 473-2665 for the exact time or to reserve a copy. -- Jesse Sublett

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