USSC lecturer in American studies Dr Rodney Taveira authored the chapter The Divine Violence of Underworld USA in the book The Big Somewhere: Essays on James Ellroy's Noir World.
James Ellroy's identity as a crime writer is rooted in his extraordinary life story and relationship with his home city of Los Angeles. Beginning with the unsolved murder of his mother, Geneva Hilliker Ellroy, in 1958, Ellroy's early life played a large role in shaping his obsessions with murder, the criminal underworld of LA and the redemptive power of the feminine. Ellroy's life could be seen as a brutal, visceral and emotionally exhausting realisation of the American Dream, a theme he has explored in his writing to the extent that he is credited with reinventing crime fiction.
The Big Somewhere: Essays on James Ellroy's Noir World is an in-depth, scholarly study of the work of James Ellroy, featuring leading Ellroy scholars such as Rodney Taveira, Anna Flügge and Jim Mancall. Moving from Ellroy's early detective novels to his later epic works of historical fiction, it explores how Ellroy found his place in the history of the genre by building on, and then surpassing, the works of authors who influenced him such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Joseph Wambaugh. It also examines Ellroy's impact on contemporary writers and on the cultural perception of LA, which has been his legacy through the L.A. Quartet novels.
The 'Big Somewhere' is not a geographical location, but a conglomeration of the cinematic, historical and fictional worlds that influenced Ellroy, from film noir to the Kennedy era in American politics, and on which he, in turn, has left his mark.
The Big Somewhere: Essays on James Ellroy's Noir World