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Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Dunne's refusal to adhere to correct grammar, sensible punctuation, and his anachonistic style all acknowledged in his forward do add shock value, but coupled with the crude language I was left disgusted.

View all 6 comments. Mar 10, Dana Stabenow rated it it was ok. I read this book because it's on many "ten best mystery" lists. Originally published in , it is an exemplar of noir, you can almost hear Humphrey Bogart's voice-over. But there is far too much going off on tangents that are great for establishing the voice over and over again, she said a little jadedly , and there is no one to like, no character I can root for.

Maybe I'm meant to be cheered by the two brothers s I read this book because it's on many "ten best mystery" lists. Maybe I'm meant to be cheered by the two brothers sitting down together at the end. But I wasn't. Very well written, but best read with warm milk and cookies to hand. And, you know, when you put it down, pick up that half-finished Brother Cadfael novel to alleviate your inevitable depression.

Aug 12, Ken French rated it it was amazing Shelves: genre-fiction. A masterpiece of crime fiction. May 25, Nora rated it really liked it. By far the best L. Every word was a treat. View 1 comment. Apr 22, Kerry rated it it was amazing. An overlooked genius.

John Gregory Dunne's characterization of Hollywood in the 's presages James Ellroy's without the hyperbole. I just finished True Confessions--the book a friend of mine a retired economics professor "made" me read.


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Four and a half hours on public transportation yesterday got me through the last half of the book. I finished off the final few pages this morning. And I'm relieved that I'm done. True Confessions is a meandering mess of existential navel gazing. Maybe if I was a Catholic, I'd care more about the heavy handed themes of guilt and sin and adultery, but the author's style makes it all half-ba I just finished True Confessions--the book a friend of mine a retired economics professor "made" me read. Maybe if I was a Catholic, I'd care more about the heavy handed themes of guilt and sin and adultery, but the author's style makes it all half-baked claptrap.

The story about the Black Dahlia-esque murder that is supposedly the core of the novel isn't even a quarter of the book. It's a loss leader. A trick to get you to read a festival of circuitous, seemingly endless ruminations by characters it's nearly impossible to care for or about. And so on. True Confessions is so slow and meandering it makes chilled maple syrup seem speedy by comparison. And the author has all of his characters ruminate at great length about all manner of things To the author, it seems the need to ruminate is key to the experience of all thinking beings.

And he captures that. And he RE-captures that. And he re-recaptures that. For example, he'll start a scene, then he'll stop in the middle for a seven page flashback. Then he goes back to the original scene and continues blithely on, expecting that we can follow his disjointed narrative in lock-step with the vagaries of his logical?

And he seems to pull some weird trick like that in every single chapter--sometimes more than once. The faux Black Dahlia murder investigation is only the thinnest excuse for these characters to tread on each other's toes again and again in their pursuit of the Great American Rumination. Unless you have some vested interest in this hollow tome--or you lose a bet--keep this novel OFF of your reading list. Apr 04, billy rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: angelinos, catholics, guys who wana feel like men.

True Confessions made me wanna get my hands dirty in the bowels of a city. Since I wasn't about to sign up for the police academy, I did the next best thing: I started searching for an apartment in the nitty-grittiest spot I could think of in downtown Portland Voodoo Donuts. Feb 17, Jennifer rated it liked it. Definitely a classic of the hard-boiled variety, based on the famous Black Dahlia murder in s LA. The language is harsh and violent and the characters aren't very likable but the comparison of the scandal-plagued, wildly corrupt LA police department with the innerworkings and politics of the city's Catholic churches is very interesting.

Turns out - they're not so different. Nov 12, Steve Gross rated it really liked it. A cross between a novel, a police procedural and a mystery. Set in LA in This is the crudest book I have ever read - filled with profanity, racism and sexual terminology. Very irish and very Catholic to the point where I did not understand some of the religious references.

Still, a very compelling story about good and evil. View all 3 comments. Jun 29, Lenny Husen rated it it was amazing. It is sad, awful at times and deals with damaged people leading damaged lives for as long as they can. It is one of the best written novels I have read--truly reaches the unforgettable level. It was written in the 's with the story taking place in the late 's, and is written in the Crime Noir style.

The N-word is not used in this book but there are many other less volatile racial slurs for African Americans and Jews and Italians. The racism and sexism in this book was hilariously shocking, horrifying and clearly ironic. Therein lies John Gregory Dunne's genius--very few writers could have pulled that off.

The only character in the book to triumph in the end is an African American, portrayed as extremely intelligent, decent, and dedicated. The Title has a least 4 meanings: The first meaning is an ironic reference to the magazine for young women which was first published in , the second meaning is a reference to the Catholic Confessional, and the third to criminals confessing in the course of Police Work, and the fourth, to the honest admissions we make to ourselves and to others if we have an intimate enough relationship with that person.

Another meat gets replaced: Now your bacon bits can be made from mushrooms

There is a homicide case that proves to be the downfall of one of them, and the shame of the other. I won't lie--this is a dark book, but a very worthy read. If you liked Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner I didn't , you will also like True Confessions which I liked because of the laugh out loud shocking humour. Tom is not a very good man.

He treats the women in his life pretty shabbily. He always puts his needs first. Tom's fear of intimacy and inability to attain it while still craving it at some level made him a tragic figure. So if you are a woman, and any man has ever slapped you or abandoned you or didn't text you back, and if you want to forgive that man or at least endeavor to understand him so that you can let him go forever--Tom just might help you to do that.

Mar 04, Becky Loader rated it really liked it. After I saw the movie, "True Confessions," I had to get the book to compare. Very loosely based on the Black Dahlia murder in the 's, Dunne describes post-war L. The relationship between the two "harp" I had never heard this term brothers, a monsignor and a police lieutenant, is very interesting. Feb 05, Kenneth P. This is a novel of twos-- two brothers, two "houses", a woman severed in two pieces. They are the Spellacy brothers, Tommy the cop, Desmond the priest. The butchered woman is Lois Fazenda, lowlife, hooker, vagrant. Never a character in the book, Ms.

Fazenda becomes the focal point for John Gregory Dunne's sprawling novel of crime and corruption in 's L. As brothers, their fierce co This is a novel of twos-- two brothers, two "houses", a woman severed in two pieces. As brothers, their fierce competitiveness fuels their undoing. A failure in love, Tommy finds solace only in sex.

The celibate Father Desmond, equally lonely, lives his brother's sex life in a sordid, vicarious fashion. Tommy's girlfriends tend to find themselves in Desmond's Confessional. One can't help but think of John Gregory Dunne's troubled relationship with his well known brother Dominick. Brothers, writers, competitors, they loved and respected one another even as they fought and feuded.

Good old Irish Catholic boys, masters of the Grudge. Much of this unfolds in the pages of True Confessions. It becomes a contest as to which entity is more corrupt, the Police or the Church. It's a shameless money-grab from cover to cover. I was struck by the honest, gritty depiction of the 's L. Dunne was the product of privilege, of Princeton, of copious Connecticut money. But he nails the sewer of Los Angeles.

The narration and speech are faithfully ugly and racist. There are Mexicans, Negroes, Chinamen, Jews who enter the dialogue in the most disgusting of terms. Never a prude, I encountered sexual metaphors in this book that made me say, "ouch. The Church has the power to select the Chief of Police. Father Desmond can save Detective Tommy from a corruption indictment.

In return, Tommy can cover up the arrests of priests driving drunk. When Father Gagnon dies of a heart attack in the arms of a black hooker, it is Tommy who moves the body to a more appropriate venue. The cops and the church are a two-headed beast. The Police Department and the Archdiocese are dueling snake-pits. This feels like classic L.

Noir, and it is. But for me it is more, it is a red-blooded American novel that just happens to be about crime. Earlier, I referred to the book as "sprawling. But in the world of Mr. Dunne everything is connected. The myriad tentacles of his plot find their way back through cops, bishops, contractors, hookers, bums, informers-- all the way back to its nexus which is the bisected body of Lois Fazenda who was tortured to death. If the top half of her body, the brain and heart, fell into the lofty domain of Father Des, the bottom half, the nether regions, was Detective Tommy's turf.

There is plenty of sin to go around here. Tommy is a serial adulterer and a vindictive prick. Desmond, a ruthless, careerist priest, falls prey to "the heresy of self. Flannery O'connor would approve.

The Tomcat - True Confessions | Mother Denim

In the end they reconcile, proclaiming themselves just "a couple of Harps. More to the point, they were just a couple of Americans. Dunne's Los Angeles seems to spring from a relentless anger. A pox on both their houses. Feb 28, Ben rated it it was amazing. The hardest of hard-boiled novels--made all the harder by its moments of restraint--a masterwork of grit, suspense, and narrative control, not to mention a wonderful evocation of Los Angeles and a near-definitive dictionary of racial slurs and terms for female anatomy.

While it can be tough to swallow in places, that's also the art of it. George Pelecanos points out in the introduction that the reader is free to judge the characters if they want, but the author refuses to. What makes this book so The hardest of hard-boiled novels--made all the harder by its moments of restraint--a masterwork of grit, suspense, and narrative control, not to mention a wonderful evocation of Los Angeles and a near-definitive dictionary of racial slurs and terms for female anatomy.

What makes this book so compulsively readable is not the murder mystery, though that's tantalizing enough: a young woman chopped up and left on a street corner, a la the Black Dahlia. The further we go in this story, the more we realize that the solution doesn't matter.

This is a crime from which it is impossible to extract justice, a crime that by its nature can only divide and separate and bifurcate those who come in contact with it. From the outset, True Confessions defeats our expectations. We're accustomed, these days, to detective stories in which the sad-sack, gruffly likeable investigator doggedly, obsessively pursues the killer. For our detective, Tom Spellacy, solving the case is the last thing on his mind most of the time.

He's got other problems.

True Confessions with Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn

Rather than casing suspicious locales or staying up all night digging through old files, or whatever it is a fictional detective should do, he's eating lunch at the Biltmore and going to the fights and doing little favors for his pals, like moving a priest's corpse out of a brothel. He works the murder during work hours, but mostly he's worried about his wife in the loony bin, his mistress, a mobster he's at odds with, and his brother, the monsignor. Not until the end does he really knuckle down.

True Confessions

And Tom does crack it. But it turns out that solving the case solves nothing. What matters is the relationship between two men, Tom Spellacy and his brother, Monsignor Des Spellacy. A couple of Irish toughs from Boyle Heights who know how to operate in the worlds they've chosen. Tom works all the angles when it comes to hookers, pimps, mobsters, and fight promoters. Des does the same with cardinals, pastors, laymen, and the many crooked businessmen glomming onto the Catholic church.

See a Problem?

Almost without you noticing, Dunne layers these characters and crafts something moving out of their relationship. At times the book seems to be nothing more than an almost dreamlike series of conversations, at once philosophical and earthy, rendered with dazzling readability and style. But you've got to have the stomach for it, because these people don't talk nice. If you want a couple of stand-up guys to root for, you're out of luck with the Spellacy brothers. What you get here are complicated, witty, smart, often ugly people at war with their deep affection for and resentment of one another.

And that's the really hard stuff. Not hookers and murderers and corrupt cops. Those things are easy. Family, faith. That's hard-boiled. Aug 08, David Marans rated it it was amazing. Although I have seen the film only a few years ago it was not a "success" but I enjoyed it , this spellbinding novel was richer, more engrossing and filled with memorable scenes.

Strangely, I could not finish another book by this author, but given how memorable True Confessions felt, I'm ready for more. A favorite character - the 80 year old Cardinal another rogue in an endless parade. I'm surprised at the "below 4. Dec 07, Tony Gleeson rated it really liked it.


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  • The novel is deeper and less dramatic no great surprise there and I found it thoroughly involving on several levels. Read full review. Marvelously well-acted Quite simply it's one of the most entertaining, most intelligent and most thoroughly satisfying commercial American films in a very long time. Chicago Reader - Dave Kehr. The film looks like an attempt to make a Martin Scorsese movie without Martin Scorsese. Time Out - Staff Not Credited.

    The two Roberts Duvall as cop, De Niro as priest turn in potentially great performances, but are given precious little to work with. Variety - Staff Not Credited. Comes off as relatively mild fare which fails to pack a dramatic or emotional wallop. The New Yorker - Pauline Kael. But the movie is in a stupor; everything is internalized. Duvall is locked in, and De Niro is in his chameleon trance - he seems flaccid, preoccupied You have to put up a struggle to get anything out of this picture.

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