Like Hot Knives to the Brain

Like Hot Knives to the Brain : James Ellroy's Search for Himself

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Often more disturbing than entertaining, James Ellroy is an author who never shies away from the ugly or repellent. Eminent crime fiction scholar Peter Wolfe examines how Ellroy transcends the genres of pulp and neo-noir fiction to write stories that are both psychologically haunting and culturally relevant. Wolfe skillfully combines biography-including the unsolved murder of Ellroy's mother-with literary analysis to provide a fascinating and readable study of this popular author. The first in-depth companion to the work of James Ellroy, Like Hot Knives to the Brain will interest students of popular culture, mystery readers, and crime buffs everywhere.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 157.5 x 241.3 x 22.9mm | 498.96g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739108115
  • 9780739108116

Table of contents

Chapter 1 An All-Star Cast of Ruffians Chapter 2 Ghostly Visitations Chapter 3 The Art of Attack Chapter 4 A Cosmology with Mirrors Chapter 5 Riding a Nightmare with Crazy Lloyd Chapter 6 Back-door Justice on the Killing Fields: The L.A. Quartet Chapter 7 An All-Star Criminal Cast
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Review quote

Wolfe is that rare creature in the literary jungle: a generous-minded pundit who loves writers, explores their world honestly and diligently, and gives us his findings with affection, elegance, and impressive insight. James Ellroy is a lucky man. -- John le Carre Like Hot Knives to the Brain: James Ellroy's Search for Himself is a major contribution to the study of popular fiction. Wolfe offers an overview of Ellroy and his crime fiction, an overview that places Ellroy within the context of both the narrative genre of hard-boiled pulp crime fiction, and the social-psychological and cultural relevance of his writings. In typical fashion, Wolfe has done a marvelous job in presenting his detailed and insightful analysis of Ellroy. -- Gary Hoppenstand, Michigan State University No one identifies and connects the literary dots better, and more entertainingly, than Peter Wolfe. Without fail, he serves up fine writing about fine writers. Readers can't help but enjoy the works of his subjects all the more, once Wolfe has shared his insights and analyses. -- John Lutz Deserving of the highest praise, this book will serve those interested in both critical biography and detective fiction. Summing Up: Essential. All collections; all levels. CHOICE Wolfe (English, U. of Missouri-St. Louis) discusses the violent and often gruesome work of contemporary American novelist Ellroy. He fins in the novels a self-presence that stems from the author having internalized the elements comprising the work, and from having recorded them with such naked honesty. Among the topics are an all-star cast of ruffians, ghostly visitations, the art of attack, riding a nightmare with Crazy Loyd, and back-door justice on the killing fields in The L.A. Quartet. Reference and Research Book News Ellroy's present and future readers deserve this excellent full-length study of his works in relation to his almost equally bizarre and emblematic life... Wolfe exhibits, line by line, a razor-sharp intellect, a broad knowledge not only of the crime genre but of literature generally, a command of psychology, and a vivacious, energetic style that makes the book move swiftly from interesting point to interesting point. -- David Madden, Louisiana State University
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About Peter Wolfe

Peter Wolfe is the Curators' Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His many book subjects include Graham Greene, Jean Rhys, Raymond Chandler, Yukio Mishima, William Gaddis, and the Twilight Zone television series. Wolfe's shorter works have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, the Chicago Tribune, the L. A. Times, the Washington Post, the New Zealand Listener, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Calcutta Statesman, and Modern Fiction Studies.
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