Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Five top tales of true crime

Errol Morris is an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker. He has directed nine films, including The Fog of War, The Thin Blue Line, and most recently, Tabloid.

His new book is A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald.

Morris named five top tales of true crime for the Wall Street Journal.  One title on the list:
My Dark Places
by James Ellroy (1996)

A modern master of detective fiction connects his obsession with the 1947 murder of actress Elizabeth Short—known as the Black Dahlia—with the 1958 murder of his mother, neither of which has ever been solved. It is last on this list not only because it is recent. It is a story about crime stories, written by someone who is both detective and victim. Ellroy describes his mother (whom he claims to despise) in the terse language of a police report, and yet the book is a moving tribute to her power over his art. "My Dark Places" explains and animates all of Ellroy's work. It is restless, but dreamlike and easy to read. We understand what drove Ellroy's imagination to dark places, obliged him to think about thorny problems that most of us are spared—the difference between fiction and fact, good and evil, seeking and finding.
Read about the other titles on the list.

My Dark Places is one of Peter Collier's five best books about writers' lives.

Also see Errol Morris's five worthy books on photography and reality.

--Marshal Zeringue