James Ellroy’s ‘Perfidia’ is a Noir Novel Without Good Guys

By Emily DonahueOctober 7, 2014 4:34 pm

James Ellroy has a penchant for the persecuted.

His previous works including “L.A. Confidential,” “The Black Dahlia” and “The Big Nowhere” delve into forgotten times and seedy locales, where even the good guys have a bad streak.

His new noir novel “Perfidia,” like his other yarns, is a deep dive into Los Angeles during World War II, just after Pearl Harbor.

Ellroy spoke with Texas Standard’s Emily Donahue ahead of his appearance at his appearance at the Texas Book Festival later this month.

On the characters and his writing:

“They’re groovy, they’re sexy, they’re out for themselves. And they’re romantic! They want things. They want … they will do anything for love. It’s a book about love. It’s a book about passion. And my greatest design in writing this book – which I wrote frankly in a state of complete obsession – is to uproot the reader from his or her daily life and force them into December 1941, Los Angeles and get them hopped up on the time.”

On history and his hometown obsession:

“L.A. owns me. It’s where I go and women divorce me. This book it’s history as yearning. Yearning is the chief found of my inspiration. I yearn for history itself. I wish I was alive and would have been able to enlist on World War II. It’s a big book, a passionate book and I’m from L.A. I would imagine that someone is obsessed as I am who might have grown up in London or Bangladesh, would write big obsessive books about those locales. I’m just following the footsteps of my hometown. My hometown told me to write this book.”