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Marginalia: James Ellroy On 'Widespread Panic'

Marion Ettinger

Freddy Otash is in Purgatory. Literally… literarily. In James Ellroy’s novel, Widespread Panic, the corrupt cop turned sleazy private eye is in Purgatory expiating his sins when he is offered a fast-track to Heaven. All he has to do is write a tell-all.

A fictional account based on real characters—Ellroy actually met Otash in real life—Widespread Panic is a wild ride through 1950 Hollyweird. I recently spoke with Ellroy about Otash, his novel, and about films adapted from his books. [spoiler: he doesn’t like any of them].

Here’s our conversation.


Widespread Panic by James Ellroy was published by Knopf.

Marginalia was produced at KMUW Wichita. If you like this podcast, please consider leaving a rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Engineers: Mark Statzer and Torin Andersen
Editor: Lu Anne Stephens
Producer: Haley Crowson

Follow Beth Golay on Twitter @BethGolay.