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James Ellroy has written some lively crime fiction revolving around the JFK assassination, although it is

too much in the mob-did-it camp and too oblique to get close enough to the actual heart of darkness. But I think his memoir MY DARK PLACES is a great book

that would make a great movie. So I am sad to find that Ellroy now believes in the mythical lone-gunman theory and he believes that appallingly gullible and crudely propagandistic book by Thomas Mallon about Ruth Paine, an assassination conspirator, a CIA operative who supplied much of what Oswald called the “so-called evidence” against him  (Mrs. Paine is still living in Marin County, California). 

I guess Ellroys previous novels digging into the milieu of the Kennedy

years and the assassination are now passé in his own mind, which
 
sadly has turned delusional on this subject.
 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/06/books/review/by-the-book-james-ellroy.html

From New York Times interview with James Ellroy, June 6, 2019:

Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most? 

As novelists, Don DeLillo and Thomas Mallon. “Libra,” DeLillo’s book on the J.F.K.-hit conspiracy, knocked me on my ass. Mallon’s nonfiction book “Mrs. Paine’s Garage” converted me to the lone gunman view of history. I live in the past. DeLillo and Mallon have served to make it a most felicitous place to abide.

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Ellroy's preoccupation is personal corruption, and what he sees in himself he will pursue to the nth degree in others.  The axis of the Mob and politics is the grimy place where he's stopped; apparently there aren't enough crooked policemen in Dallas or DC involved in the JFKA for him light on and create more nuance from, and anyone involved at CIA was a rogue and not part of the Establishment.

When not writing, Ellroy has made a living playing the guy who's Too Full of Himself in his public appearances, and it's a face that can stick (trust me), and that can also blind you to delicacies in the way things operate while you're peering out the eyeholes of the mask (trust me, again).  That is why he'll go to the wall for Oswald as a perverted lone gunman, with whose smallness and corruption he can identify, and for Ruth Paine as an unlucky do-gooder. 

One might say that Ellroy's "I live in the past. DeLillo and Mallon have served to make it a most felicitous place to abide" is code for, The party line is what my publisher will accept, but one shudders at the thought of an Ellroy novel supporting the lies valorizing Ruth Paine in the Oswald cover-up.  When Ellroy pimps Paine and Mallon, he's backing away from the idea that conspiracies killed the Kennedys, which was the engine of The Cold Six Thousand and the other books in his trilogy.

I'm a big fan of Don DeLillo's Libra, which many who haven't read it wrongly assume is a lone gunman-novel.  But even amid the conspiracy to get Kennedy in that book, Ruth Paine gets a blanket free pass, and is mentioned minimally and under a pseudonym, as if the publisher was afraid of a lawsuit, and as if (yes!) she were a victim of history as much as Oswald is in DeLillo's cosmography. 

The time is ripe now, at Ruth's advanced age, for someone to begin researching an incisive examination of the Paines, and I nominate you for that, Joe. 

Edited by David Andrews
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I was thinking about the subject of Ruth Paine last night.  I just finished reading Marina and Lee by Priscilla Johnson McMillan which was the first book I've read which actually tackles Mrs. Paine outside of the facts reported in other works about the assassination.   I have Mrs. Paine's Garage as well, but I haven't read it yet.  I started to give it a go, but then I put it back on the shelf.  Maybe I'll tackle it next. 

(For the record, the McMillan book did not convert me to the lone assassin theory, but I found it fascinating given the period when the book was being written and the version of Marina which it presents.)

Back to Mrs. Paine, though - she (as a character in a story) makes out very well in the McMillan book, presented as nearly perfect.  The only 'fault' which I remember it giving her is snooping once and making the copy of the letter which she said LHO wrote on her typewriter.  Granted, this is McMillan's version of Ruth Paine as a minor character in the overall story of Marina, but given Mrs. Paine's role in the life of the Oswalds during 1963, I think I would have liked a little more information here.

 

Edited by Stephanie Goldberg
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14 hours ago, Joseph McBride said:

James Ellroy has written some lively crime fiction revolving around the JFK assassination, although it is

too much in the mob-did-it camp and too oblique to get close enough to the actual heart of darkness.

I loved American Tabloid even though I don't buy the Mafia/rogue-CIA JFK conspiracy scenario. 

It imparts a deep sense of treachery which I find useful in historical studies.

I found The Cold Six Thousand a weird read.  It struck me at times as a massive, hard-boiled outline of a series of books.

I haven't read Blood's A Rover yet, afraid I'm going to be disappointed.

I've read My Dark Places and The Quartet --The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz.   Ishmael Reed, Richard Price and Ellroy are, in my limited view, the most consistently satisfying modern novelists.

"Mallon’s nonfiction book 'Mrs. Paine’s Garage' converted me to the lone gunman view of history. "  That's a savage disappointment, but maybe we're making too much of it...

 

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Yeah, I made a mistake: American Tabloid is the first, and best, book in the trilogy.  The Cold Six Thousand has the best title, but is a bit less good.  Blood's A Rover has a title out of a Yeats poem, but is an off-the-rails disappointment.  The story is that Ellroy had to write Blood's very quickly to meet a contractual deadline - so it's like the rushed last season of a TV series you had high hopes for.

Ellroy makes a big deal out of criticizing the film of L. A. Confidential, but it's the best thing that ever happened to him: it brought his writing into the range of the normal.  Ellroy, for instance, made the character in the trilogy based on Robert Maheu into a fire-bombing, Action Man assassin, which Maheu, even in his youth, never was.

However - now I want to read it all again, like it's a can of Pringles.

Edited by David Andrews
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7 hours ago, David Andrews said:

Ellroy's preoccupation is personal corruption, and what he sees in himself he will pursue to the nth degree in others.  The axis of the Mob and politics is the grimy place where he's stopped; apparently there aren't enough crooked policemen in Dallas or DC involved in the JFKA for him light on and create more nuance from, and anyone involved at CIA was a rogue and not part of the Establishment.

When not writing, Ellroy has made a living playing the guy who's Too Full of Himself in his public appearances, and it's a face that can stick (trust me), and that can also blind you to delicacies in the way things operate while you're peering out the eyeholes of the mask (trust me, again).  That is why he'll go to the wall for Oswald as a perverted lone gunman, with whose smallness and corruption he can identify, and for Ruth Paine as an unlucky do-gooder. 

One might say that Ellroy's "I live in the past. DeLillo and Mallon have served to make it a most felicitous place to abide" is code for, The party line is what my publisher will accept, but one shudders at the thought of an Ellroy novel supporting the lies valorizing Ruth Paine in the Oswald cover-up.  When Ellroy pimps Paine and Mallon, he's backing away from the idea that conspiracies killed the Kennedys, which was the engine of The Cold Six Thousand and the other books in his trilogy.

I'm a big fan of Don DeLillo's Libra, which many who haven't read it wrongly assume is a lone gunman-novel.  But even amid the conspiracy to get Kennedy in that book, Ruth Paine gets a blanket free pass, and is mentioned minimally and under a pseudonym, as if the publisher was afraid of a lawsuit, and as if (yes!) she were a victim of history as much as Oswald is in DeLillo's cosmography. 

The time is ripe now, at Ruth's advanced age, for someone to begin researching an incisive examination of the Paines, and I nominate you for that, Joe. 

What would have happened to Ruth Paine had Oswald been killed within an hour of Kennedy?  Quaker Ruth would have harbored the family of the Kennedy-killing agent of the Communists.  How could she avoid serious suspicion?

Ruth's husband Michael Paine was the son of a good friend of Allen Dulles' girlfriend Mary Bancroft.

We're looking -- are we not? -- at two scenarios which could serve as the operative definition of treachery:  either Dulles ruthlessly set up a family friend of his girlfriend to potentially take the fall as an accessory to murder and treason -- or Dulles himself was set up to take the fall, in case the conspiracy should go sideways and the CIA was implicated.

That's one area where American Tabloid influenced my thinking of the JFKA -- not the historical details, but the sense of treachery.

Edited by Cliff Varnell
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What would have happened to Ruth Paine had Oswald been killed within an hour of Kennedy?  Quaker Ruth would have harbored the family of the Kennedy-killing agent of the Communists.  How could she avoid serious suspicion?

I would say, by playing close to the exact same game that she did.  She may have expected Oswald dead that day.  And, in any case, nobody was seriously looking at women in this crime, not in Dallas or DC.  Not even the naturalized Russian woman.  And nobody was investigating their uncles at CIA, either. 

It only took two more days to get Oswald, so I don't believe the outcome would have changed for Ruth had it happened earlier.  It took years for anyone to read Will Fritz's supposed interrogation notes, and see that Oswald supposedly exonerated his erstwhile confederate, Ruth Paine.  So, there's some treachery by one's host right there.  Double-game if Oswald brought up her name to drag her in as an alibi.

Compare and contrast: Ruth Paine and Ethel Rosenberg.  This is for all, not just Cliff.

Edited by David Andrews
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6 minutes ago, David Andrews said:

It only took two more days to get Oswald, so I don't believe the outcome would have changed for Ruth had it happened earlier.  It took years for anyone to read Will Fritz's supposed interrogation notes, and see that Oswald supposedly stuck up for his erstwhile confederate, Ruth Paine. 

Indeed.  But let's speculate on Oswald getting murdered before he had a chance to sing Ruth Paine's praises.  Hadn't Ruth already been accused of Communist complicity?

I can't recall the cite for that...

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4 minutes ago, Cliff Varnell said:

Indeed.  But let's speculate on Oswald getting murdered before he had a chance to sing Ruth Paine's praises.  Hadn't Ruth already been accused of Communist complicity?

I can't recall the cite for that...

I dunno, Cliff.  But how many years did Oswald's supposed statement take to reach the public?  Who did it reach in DC?  Because of no interest in establishing a chain of evidence in what was determined, without Federal objection, a state crime.

If Ruth was in danger of seriously being accused as a Communist, then so was Michael, separation notwithstanding.  And, beyond preliminary investigation, nobody was clamoring to turn them into the Rosenbergs.  After he was dead, nobody looked to tie Oswald to Khruschev, either.

Edited by David Andrews
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3 minutes ago, David Andrews said:

I dunno, Cliff.  But how many years did Oswald's supposed statement take to reach the public?  Who did it reach in DC?  Because of no interest in establishing a chain of evidence in what was determined, without Federal objection, a state crime.

If Ruth was in danger of seriously being accused as a Communist, then so was Michael, separation notwithstanding.  And, beyond preliminary investigation, nobody was clamoring to turn them into the Rosenbergs.  After he was dead, nobody looked to tie Oswald to Khruschev, either.

Lots of people whispered the "Oswald was an agent of the Kremlin" scenario once LHO was dead.  That's how LBJ got Earl Warren to head the Commission.

It just wasn't a public position at any time.

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33 minutes ago, David Andrews said:

If Ruth was in danger of seriously being accused as a Communist, then so was Michael, separation notwithstanding. 

And maybe just maybe Michael's mom Ruth would be in danger.  And her friend Mary Bancroft.  And Mary's friend Allen Dulles.

I can see Richard Helms and James Angleton setting up their old friend Allen and their old friend E. Howard Hunt if the Agency were compromised.

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4 hours ago, Cliff Varnell said:

What would have happened to Ruth Paine had Oswald been killed within an hour of Kennedy?  Quaker Ruth would have harbored the family of the Kennedy-killing agent of the Communists.  How could she avoid serious suspicion?

 

This has always haunted me, and not just from the standpoint of Ruth Paine.  If LHO had been killed immediately after the assassination or before he could be booked into custody - how would this have changed the scenario?  Would the story have stayed exactly the same?

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43 minutes ago, Stephanie Goldberg said:

This has always haunted me, and not just from the standpoint of Ruth Paine.  If LHO had been killed immediately after the assassination or before he could be booked into custody - how would this have changed the scenario?  Would the story have stayed exactly the same?

No.  Cuba would have been blamed.

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9 hours ago, Stephanie Goldberg said:

I was thinking about the subject of Ruth Paine last night.  I just finished reading Marina and Lee by Priscilla Johnson McMillan which was the first book I've read which actually tackles Mrs. Paine outside of the facts reported in other works about the assassination.   I have Mrs. Paine's Garage as well, but I haven't read it yet.  I started to give it a go, but then I put it back on the shelf.  Maybe I'll tackle it next. 

(For the record, the McMillan book did not convert me to the lone assassin theory, but I found it fascinating given the period when the book was being written and the version of Marina which it presents.)

Back to Mrs. Paine, though - she (as a character in a story) makes out very well in the McMillan book, presented as nearly perfect.  The only 'fault' which I remember it giving her is snooping once and making the copy of the letter which she said LHO wrote on her typewriter.  Granted, this is McMillan's version of Ruth Paine as a minor character in the overall story of Marina, but given Mrs. Paine's role in the life of the Oswalds during 1963, I think I would have liked a little more information here.

 

Stephanie, you do know PJM volunteered her services to the CIA well before she met Lee in Russia?  Somewhere there's a memo about their confidence in her to write what ever they wanted.

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