RANKIN 0N EllROY
Never out of the bestseller charts,
is the king of Scottish crime- writing. In an article specially written for The List, he reviews
new book and ' «
Dead Souls, his
new Inspector \ Rebus novel.
\it-ez-ds: Ian Rankin Prvazagiapl‘: Chris Blott
THE FIRST TIME I MET JAMES ELLROY, HE spent half an hour dishing the dirt on just about eyery Hollywood ‘:\-list‘ player: who was a fag. who was a dyke. who was a hophead. a weenie- wagger. or hung like a cashew. At the time. I was supposedly being interyiewetl by a maga/ine. but lillroy hijacked the whole
This was the
sel f- pr
claimed ‘l)eyil l)og‘ of
American writing at his most outlandish and enter- taining. liyen his Hawaiian shirt was calculated to offend.
The second time I met him. we were at dinner with a few other people.
‘10 THE llST -1 3-4, '
Someone at the table was getting on his neryes. When she excused herself to make a phone call. lillroy put a proposition to the rest of us. He said we should stab her to death with our forks and haye the chef do something creatiye with the carcass.
()ur third meeting was much more intimate. It was just me and the l)eyil Dog in a BBC studio. talking to one another for the best part of an hour. The resulting conyersation was clipped to fifteen minutes and broadcast on Radio Scotland. We started
jousting almost immediately. I wanted to get
behind that public image and discuss the artistry. I’m not sure I scored any kind of palpable hit. my shining sword of truth barely scratching his armour.
I told him ll’lu’lc .lu:: was crime tiction's l'lyssm. He told me the book was a failure. because it sold fewer copies than the preyious three Volumes in the [A Quartet. His idea of a great book was one that sold by the truck-load. I wasn‘t convinced. My guess is. when American 'lii/ilm't/ became 'Ii'mc magazine's .\'oyel ()f The Year in IWS. it pleased him more than money. because here was eyidence that the wider world was taking him seriously as a noyelist. as a great mythologiser. and as a recorder of the less sayout')' aspects of modern .-\merican life.
lillroy has great self—knowledge. .-\I one point in (‘rimt' llio‘c. his new book. he says of himself and a cop friend: ‘\\'e satiri/ed macho absurdin and admitted our complicity in perpetuating it.‘ I-‘urther on. he calls them