Do you think of yourself as a novelist or as a crime writer?
I am a master of fiction. I am also the greatest crime writer who ever lived. I am to the crime novel in specific what Tolstoy is to the Russian novel and what Beethoven is to music.
How do you know since you say you don’t read other books?
I just know. There is a line from a wonderful Thomas Lux poem: “You’re alone and you know a few things.” I just know that I am that good.
What about Raymond Chandler, who wrote so evocatively about Los Angeles lowlifes before you?
He is egregiously overrated.
Dashiell Hammett, whose name is synonymous with the adjective “hard-boiled”?
I think he’s tremendously great; I just think I am greater.
14 November 2006
James Ellroy Has Poor Self-Esteem
James Ellroy, the tremendous -- and tremendously strange -- author of many acclaimed crime novels, including L.A. Confidential, was interviewed recently by Deborah Solomon in The New York Times Magazine: