Spoiled Children of Divorce


Exemplary Children of Divorce – James Ellroy
June 11, 2018, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Don’t know why I found out about two crime novelists/Children of Divorce at the same time. Good things happen in pairs, I guess. Both novelists are centered in California.

Along with Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, is another great classic who has written The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, and the awesome Child of Divorce/Murder My Dark Places. This last one is the result of working with a detective for 15 months on the cold case of his mother who was raped and murdered.

Like Chandler, Ellroy didn’t start writing until he was much older. He has suffered from Alcoholism, Depression, Drug Addiction, Homelessness and a Criminal Past.

There are many interviews on the Internet with Ellroy which I recommend. Here is one from the TV News show 60 Minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI0rpNoSLwA.

I think Ellroy’s parents divorced when he was seven years old, but am not positive on that because for some reason I didn’t write it down. The parents were given split custody. James lived with his Mother, a nurse, during the week and with his Father on 3 week-ends a month. He preferred living with his Father. In My Dark Places, there is a really eerie description of how he felt nothing after his Mother’s death and was happy to be able to finally live with his Father. There are humorous and sad descriptions of typical parental alienation games between parents. His Father called his Mother a whore and his Mother called his Father something else. Can’t remember, but Ellroy couldn’t have become a good writer without these words, no doubt.

Didn’t know that there were previous divorce boom’s in California but apparently there were. California just sort of “booms” a lot with Gold, Real Estate, Movies, Immigration, Divorce. In addition to the 70’s divorce boom which blew the small town where I grew up there was one in the 1950s. According to the CDC there was also a boom in the 1920’s. “In 1956 my mother moved us from West Hollywood to Santa Monica. I enrolled in a cut-rate private school called Children’s Paradise. The place was a dump site for disturbed kids of divorce. “A flurry of single moms hit the gate at 5:10. I developed a yen for women in their late thirties.” (My Mother’s Killer by James Ellroy, gg.com, July 8, 2007). The town, El Monte, place of where Elroy was living with his Mom, was called “The City of Divorced Women.” (p. 25).

My Dark Places is mainly about Ellroy dealing with his complicated feelings for his Mother. Her murder led him to obsession with crime. Reading about crime and committing it. He apparently had an obsession with older women even before that which led to his first novel The Black Dahlia which is about an unsolved murder of a beautiful woman in L.A. just like his Mother.

I suppose the Child of Divorce part of the story comes from the complexity of feelings for his Mother as a result of the stress from the Divorce. It is just not recognized as a catalyst, so maybe it wasn’t.

Here is a nice tribute of his feelings for her which is posted at the beginning of the book. I think a lot of us can relate to us especially when dealing with the grief of our parents’ deaths:


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