James Ellroy's high-velocity, best selling novels have redefined noir for our age, propelling us within inches of the dark realities of America's recent history. Now, in The Cold Six Thousand - his most ambitious and explosive novel yet - he puts the whole of the 1960s under his blistering lens. The result is a work of fierce, epic fiction, a speedball through our most tumultuous time. Wayne Tedrow Jr., a young Vegas cop, arrives with a loathsome job to do. He's got $6,000 in cash and no idea that he is about to plunge into the cover-up conspiracy already brewing around Kennedy's assassination, no idea that this will mark the beginning of a hellish five-year ride through the private underbelly of public policy. Ellroy's furiously paced narrative tracks Tedrow's ride: Dallas back to Vegas, with the Mob and Howard Hughes, south with the Klan and J. Edgar Hoover, shipping out to Vietnam and returning home, the bearer of white powder, plotting new death as 1968 approaches... Tedrow stands witness - as the icons of an iconic era mingle with cops, killers, hoods, and provocateurs. His story is ground zero in Ellroy's stunning vision: historical confluence as American Nightmare.
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"I'm seeing visions, Dwight. I'm seeing all the Latter-day Saints." ― James Ellroy, The Cold Six Thousand
I remember when I was 5, thinking: "if I just didn't screw up, I could have been Jesus". I remember when I was 8, thinking: "if I just killed myself when I was 7, I could have gone straight to Heaven." I remember when I was 12, thinking: "Mormons could make fantastic mobsters." I hadn't yet learned about the John Birch society. I hand't learned about Howard Hughes and his cabal of Mormon fix-it men. I was still fresh. I was still a long way from the darkness bred from hate, from money, from greed, from racism.
***** Pete said, "Shut Up." Pete Said, "Smile more and hate less."
Like American Tabloid, 'The Cold Six Thousands' deals intimately with the Mob, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes and the pornography of violence that was the 60s. Now, post JFK assassination, we are dropped into the clean-up, the rise of Las Vegas, the rise of Vietnam, RFK (I share a first and middle name with that man), and MLK. This is another dense novel where the story is told from the middle; from the dark, dank core of conspiracy. Two of the main protagonists traveled from 'American Tabloid'. One was left behind, buried. A new one was introduced. Mormons in Vegas and with Hughes take on a larger role.
I could write a whole book on the Oedipal implications of this novel too. The relationship between Wayne Tedrow, Jr and Sr., could fill an entire psychology textbook. It was a plum fermenting on the Tree of Life. There was some sick shit mixed into all of that. My favorite characters Ward Littell and Pete Bondurant find themselves firmly planted in this book. A trinity of femmes fatale (Jane, Barb, Janice) jump, jive, and swirl like olives jumping from Ward's martini to Pete's martini to Jr's martini.
**** "Hate Strong. Hate brave. Don't hate like Mr. Hoover."
Probably the only thing I didn't enjoy about this book as much as the last was the prose.* It was a bit too clipped, heavy and fugly for me. Like all of Ellroy's prose there is a bit of a madman, a bit of a savage, stuffed into every clipped, dense sentence, but after a while, I was dreaming of long sentences and sunshine; just a bit of variety. I somehow imagine Ellroy thinking that writing four word sentences was, perhaps, the only way he was going to trim this second novel down by 1000 pages. It is dense. It is rapid. It is rabid. It is almost too much. One more killing. One more spike. One more mike and I might drop dead before I find out who dies other than America. And like all the characters in this sick-mother of a novel, I want to be there to watch. I want to see it framed. I want to hear the crunch and the crack of the very last page.
* "The style I developed for The Cold Six Thousand is a direct, shorter-rather-than-longer sentence style that's declarative and ugly and right there, punching you in the nards. It was appropriate for that book, and that book only, because it's the 1960s. It's largely the story of reactionaries in America during that time, largely a novel of racism and thus the racial invective, and the overall bluntness and ugliness of the language." ― James Ellroy, The Onion A.V. Club
- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"
You should not listen to this book if you are looking for entertainment and diversion. "The Cold Six Thousand" deals with greed, corruption, perversion, cruelty, and violence. However, if you have any interest in what was really going on in the 1960's -- how the J.F.K. assassination, the M.L.K. assassination, the Bobby Kennedy assassination, heroin, the Vietnam war, the Mafia, Las Vegas, and Cuba all related to one another -- then I highly recommend this book to you. Yes, James Ellroy definitely has his own unique style of writing -- kind of a cross between Hemmingway and Joyce -- with much profanity and slang, but "The Cold Six Thousand" vibrates with gritty reality, and sounds a whole lot more plausible than the Warren Commission report. I think college American history courses should assign this book as required reading.