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An Ellroy encounter

April 27, 2008 | 10:07 am

Jamesellroy_copyrightzumaI thought I'd read my program carefully, but I missed the fact that James Ellroy would be signing books at the Mystery Bookstore booth Saturday afternoon. Somehow, I ended up talking to him -- well, he was talking to my friend and I butted in, fangirl that I am.

Ellroy is all bluster and charm, more than I could possibly capture in a blog post. But I can tell you:

When I was relating what happened in a panel I'd been to earlier that day, he stopped me cold. I was not, he instructed me clearly, to use the word "like" in conversation. (Apparently, I'd been saying  "and then he, like, and then, like, she..." It wasn't deliberate. I had no idea I spoke like that.) And I was not to use the word "really," especially not as a query, or the word "totally." Sloppy and improper usage make the speaker sound unintelligent. Indeed. Score one for Ellroy.

Then -- to demonstrate precise language, I suppose -- he recited most of Auden's "In Memory of W.B. Yeats." I was stunned -- was I really listening to James Ellroy recite poetry? Indeed I was.

It was, like, totally awesome. Really.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo by Paul Fenton ZUMA KPA