So I finished up James Ellroy’s The Cold Six Thousand a couple of weeks ago. It was quite good. Superior to American Tabloid it’s predecessor because it went into depth about the things Tabloid only hinted at. It was just so incredibly dark, the racial shit was fucking hard to swallow sometime and there were times I admit where I had to remind myself that these were characters and not mouth pieces of the author.
For being nearly 700 pages long the thing moves fuck fast. Every sentence is three worlds long. Choppy/punchy/straight to the point. I was ripping it off for weeks afterward in my own writing and it’s a little embarrassing because I’m not James Ellroy. And a LOT happens and honestly a lot of it doesn’t matter and that didn’t bother me so much. I wondered why that was the case, why was I even thinking in those terms at all. I think I was thinking of Lost specifically and the fact that a lot of my self taught ideas of narrative structure/plotting/sub-plotting/character arcs whathaveu is derived from TV and comics and movies and my knowledge of novelistic structure is limited and that community college creative writing class was 250 bucks down the drain of the sink of not learning nothing.
I was going to tangent on Lost and then my tangent tangented. The Lost finale by accident totally influenced how I read The Cold Six Thousand. Holy shit.
Because the bee in my bonnet when it came to Lost wasn’t that they didn’t answer the mysteries it was that all the mysteries weren’t one mystery and nothing tied in together and the intersection of science and religion that was SOOO important really meant nothing and it was all just a bunch of shit that happened between Jack opening his eyes and Jack closing his eyes. Well life is just a buncha of shit that happens between the time you open your eyes and close your eyes. That’s what I would say if I were defending this. What I actually say is that TV is not life asshole and if you’re going with the serial structure than it all has to go somewhere it has to mean something it has to build. Lost can’t be like life because life is one person and TV is many people making up stuff. Making it up within a structure. That’s why it has to be more than the smoke monster. The smoke monster didn’t create the Dharma Initiative, he wasn’t why people couldn’t have kids, etc etc.
I don’t know, am I conveying all this alright? What my dissatisfaction is? Shit. That shit had to matter because they said it mattered. Even at the end they said it all mattered because it happened not because it meant anything or went anywhere. The moment I noticed the difference in The Cold Six Thousand was when we learned why Pete was having the headaches all through the first section of the book. It’s resolved and then it doesn’t matter anymore and that’s okay. It does act as a prelude to the other health problems that plague the character later on of a different nature. I’m just trying to sort out why I liked this one thing and didn’t like this other thing. I may be wrong comparing them at all any way. Again they have nothing to do with one another. The Cold Six Thousand was all about what happens next, one thing leading to another. Lost was about tying it all back. Except it didn’t a lot. I can’t reconcile these things and I can’t bring this thing to a good close, a good thesis, even a good one liner or a bit of snark. So that’s that.
-Daniel Von Egidy, 2010