Depressive, violent, excessive and utterly un-put-down-able. James Ellroy is the same author who wrote the Black Dahlia and has basically made a writting career over obsessive with the violent deaths of women. His obsession (which itself is completely sick and twisted) started when he was ten when his mother was raped and murdered and almost consumed him as teenager. This book is the story of her death and his ensuing obsession, which he tried to solve in his forties with the help of a retired and beaten down L.A. homicide detective. James Ellroy is not likeable and there is so much gross in this books: from the awful way Ellroy lives most of his life, to the descriptions of hideous crimes against women. Still, it is a quick, sad read, with more to it then is initially evident. I think this book will stay with me, for better or for worse.
2. Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up by Bob Colacello
I am reading a series of Andy Warhol bios, diaries, letters and other scraps to prepare myself for the exhibition my gallery is presenting of his life and work in January 2008. This particular book really focuses on his life in the 1970's and a bit into the 80s and up until his death in 1987. Although the focus is the 70s it does put his whole life into context by giving some info on his family, his home town of Pittsburgh, earlier years, etc... Bob Colacello was the editor of Andy's magazine, Interview, during the 70s and became part of his inner circle along with long time art dealer/personal manager Fred Hughes. Though well written, my biggest criticism of this book is that it is a big exercise in name-dropping and Colacello assumes readers know the elite of New York society in the 70s so, with a few exceptions, he doesn't really explain who he is talking about. It is easy to get lost in a see of names. The really great part of this book is that despite a falling out before they parted ways, Colacello manages to present a Warhol that is very conflicted. He explains why so many people loved Andy, and why so many people despised him or were ruined because of him. While reading the book I felt in turns dislike for Andy and affection for Andy, by the end of the book I saw him as a really sad and tragic character who was perhaps the most lonely figure in modern pop culture.
3. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
I picked this book up for two reasons: 1. I was at a loss for what to read next, had heard something about this book and it looked like a quick read and 2. I remember Jackie talking about wanting to see the movie when it came out last year because she enjoyed the book and Jackie tends to read good books. I am not sure how I felt about this book. My biggest response was that I can't believe this is true story, that these people actually exist and live in the way Burroughs portrays them in the book. I found this book funny and sad in turns but truthfully, the biggest thing impression I had was how utterly gross this book is. From the state of the house, to the pooping, to the sex scenes... it just totally grossed me out. There were characters that I like, particularly Augusten, Natalie and Hope, but I didn't like them a lot and the other characters were terribly annoying - like Finch and Augusten's mother. The biggest problem I had was the ending, which seemed to wrap eveything up with a bit of a bow in a way that felt a bit phoney to me. It reminded me of the TV program Nanny 911 where everything is going to shit for 55 minutes then then within five minutes the lights come on, everything knows exactly what they do and the happy familly music begins to play. I don't like the sensation that things are being resolved primarily because we're running out of time. This book is funny though and there were bits that I absolutely loved and that made me laugh out loud such as this scene where Augusten and Natalie decide to sign for patients in a psychiatric ward of a hospital:
Our voices trembled at first, because of our nerves. Anytime you perform in
front of a life audience for the first time, this is bound to happen. But by the
second verse, we were both completely absorbed in the song. Natalie's voice was
truly beautiful, soaring high against the perforated ceiling panels. I closed my
eyes and tried to imagine a hushed audience wearing expensive earings, tissues
poised beneath their eyes.
Which is why the wet smack was such as shock to both of us.
"Fuckers." It was the hateful old man, the one without teeth, I now saw.
He'd coughed deeply, productively, and spat in our direction. Because we were
standing so close togther, his phlegm hit us both. In the face. It was deeply
And we did the only thing we could possibly do. Or at least Natalie did.
She spat right back at him.
There are also a few very touching bits such as this one where Natalie and Augusten cross under a waterfall and after probably nearly dying, "I lay back with my arms stretched out and stared at the sky. I had never felt so free in my entire life." There are plenty of lovely, disturbing and hillarious moments in Running with Scissors but, for me at least, it didn't add up to a wonderful book. David Sedaris does this kind of genre much better.