My Dark Places

My Dark Places

by James Ellroy


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679762058
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/1997
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 207,996
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 7.95(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the L.A. Quartet: The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz, and the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy: American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood’s A Rover. These seven novels have won numerous honors and were international best sellers. He is also the author of two collections, Crime Wave and Destination: Morgue! and two memoirs My Dark Places and The Hilliker Curse.  Ellroy currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

Read an Excerpt

My father put me in a cab at the El Monte depot. He paid the driver and told him to drop me at Bryant and Maple.

I didn't want to go back. I didn't want to leave my father. I wanted to blow off El Monte forever.

It was hot—maybe ten degrees more than L.A. The driver took Tyler north to Bryant and cut east. He turned on Maple and stopped the cab.

I saw police cars and official-type sedans parked at the curb. I saw uniformed men and men in suits standing in my front yard.

I knew she was dead. This is not a revised memory or a retrospective hunch. I knew it in the moment—at age ten—on Sunday, June 22nd, 1958.

I walked into the yard. Somebody said, "There's the boy." I saw Mr. and Mrs. Krycki standing by their back door.

A man took me aside and kneeled down to my level. He said, "Son, your mother's been killed."

I knew he meant "murdered." I probably trembled or shuddered or weaved a little bit.

The man asked me where my father was. I told him he was back at the bus station. A half-dozen men crowded around me. They leaned on their knees and checked me out up-close.

They saw one lucky kid.

A cop split for the bus station. A man with a camera walked me back to Mr. Krycki's toolshed.

He put an awl in my hand and posed me at a workbench. I held on to a small block of wood and pretended to saw at it. I faced the camera— and did not blink or smile or cry or betray my internal equilibrium.

The photographer stood in a doorway. The cops stood behind him. I had a rapt audience.

The photographer shot some film and urged me to improvise. I hunched over the wood and sawed at it with a half-smile/ half-grimace. The cops laughed. I laughed. Flashbulbs popped.


Before the live chat, James Ellroy agreed to answer some of our questions.

Q:  Have you ever come across something in your investigations that you would have preferred not to know?

A:  No, that's a short answer -- but appropriate. I'm determined to wrest as much information from my mother's death and in the writing of My Dark Places not to flinch from the truth.

Q:  The film version of L.A. Confidential has been released to rave reviews -- how do you rate it? If you could just change one thing...what would it be?

A:  When I read various drafts of the script I was able to say, "Change this or that. . ." But now that it's in final form, I never think about it in the abstract. The film stands as a salutary adaptation of my novel and a brilliant work of art in its own right.

Q:  Is it true you wore a kilt at the Cannes film festival? What was it like for a writer to experience the glitter and hysteria of the world-renowned fest?

A:  Yes, I wore a kilt; it itched like hell. It was Curtis Hanson's moment. And more than anything I was thrilled to be there with the people who made the film such a brilliant work and to share in receiving the great critical acclaim.

Q:  Having studied your mother's murder case, can you offer any insight into the psyche of a murderer?

A:  Killers kill for largely unfathomable reasons that represent the cumulative state of their psyche up to the point that they explode. They react to the stimulus of the moment in a destructive and unconsciously self-destructive manner.

Q:  Has your recent experience with Hollywood inspired any urges to write screenplays? What's in your future?

A:  No. I'm writing the sequel to my novel American Tabloid, which was Time magazine's Novel of the Year in 1995.

Q:  Will you describe your favorite pair of shoes?

A:  White Jack Purcell tennis shoes -- I've been wearing the identical pair (though not the same pair) for 30 years.

Customer Reviews

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My Dark Places 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For a first read of James Ellroy - this is diving in at the deep end. It is a haunting story told in four parts. Ellroy's stacato reportage in the third person in parts one and three - sets the author and reader in a surreal distance as observers to firstly the crime and, in latter years, the search for the facts. This style, however, does not prepare the reader for the impact of the second section of the book which hits you like a runaway bus - Elloy's drug and booze clouded years from the death of his mother to his meeting with Stoner, the detective on the edge of retirement who takes up his case. Part three 'The Kid in the Picture' is riveting as it is draining as Ellroy opens his phyche to the reader. The final part - again told in the first person - is Ellroy's reconcilliation with the ghost of his monther's memory and his guilt of denial. I was exhausted at the end of this book - but I wanted more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did get caught up with author's desire and chase for his own missing pieces, however too much of it was redundant. I found myself wanting to skip ahead to find new progress in the case. It does provide some insights into the anguish that loved ones go thru when they lose a loved one and the scenerio of events does not match their experience with deceased. Hopefully, this case will be solved someday. At that time, with new details added to story- it would not feel so incomplete.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
'My Dark Places' exists in a quantum state of being both "high art" and a "good read". James Ellroy nabs the artistic holy grail of "transcendence" in the face of the literati by eschewing their accepted tropes for many of the common conventions of mass-market paperback "true crime" shock lit. There is nothing that can prepare you for what it is: not 'In Cold Blood', not some Eggers-penned/Oprah-sanctioned book-of-the-month, not however many Ann Rule page-turners. This is more than just a memoir. This is more than just a true crime account given in hard-boiled, post-Beat, staccato style. This is more than just the most compelling story you'll ever read. James Ellroy is the most brilliant writer of the latter 20th century. This is his magnum opus.
Coriolana More than 1 year ago
I like this much better than Ellroy's fiction. It has the unmistakable note of truth and takes no prisoners. Yes, the style is intense, foul-mouthed and dares the reader to separate it from fiction, but in 'My Dark Places', Ellroy finds compassion for his lost mother in the rounds of attempting to solve her slaying. The internal psychodrama sucked me in and its truth creates a weird and wonderful dualism. A Greek tragedy in beat profanity, I could not put it down and it has haunted me for some time after reading. It's harsh and painful and completely mesmerising.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first James Ellroy book I have read. It's a man looking to find his mother's killer, but finding the love for her instead. I could not put this book down. I am now in the middle of reading the LA Quartet . James Ellory's writing is addicting!
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What a waste of money this book sucked
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