Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women” as Want to Read:
The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women

3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  661 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
From “one of the great American writers of our time” (Los Angeles Times Book Review): a raw, explicit memoir as high-intensity and riveting as any of his novels.

The year was 1958. James Ellroy was ten years old. His mother, Jean Hilliker, had divorced her fast-buck hustler husband. She gave her son a choice: live with his father or her. He chose his father, and Jean—“half
Hardcover, 203 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published September 1st 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Hilliker Curse, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Hilliker Curse

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 08, 2010 brian rated it liked it
1. once again i'll post the greatest picture in the history of all pictures.
myself. ellroy. manny.

2. the general busyness of my life these days doesn't allow much time to write book reports -- a shame because it's a terrific way to blow off steam. instead i drink. at kowalski's recommendation, i moved from bourbon on the rocks to gin & club soda. and it was a good move, a more appropriate summer drink. but i'm still wrecking my liver, prematurely aging, and require a quick mid-day nap to f
Apr 18, 2011 Kemper rated it liked it
Ellroy, I love your books, but I’m getting a little tired of hearing about your masturbation fantasies. *sigh*

OK, let’s take it from the top. Ladies and gentlemen, once again, the biography of James Ellroy:

James Ellroy was 10 in 1958 when his mother was raped and murdered. The case was never solved. His parents had been divorced, and he went to live with his father, a lazy two-bit hustler in L.A. Young James was socially awkward, had an overheated imagination and a child’s belief that he may ha
Oct 14, 2010 RandomAnthony rated it liked it
James Ellroy’s The Hilliker Curse crossbreeds the author’s harsh, weathered style with confessional self-loathing and fragile redemption. I visualize him in a tiny cell whispering the text through a screen to a priest.

If you’ve read Ellroy, (and if you haven’t read Ellroy don’t start with this one because you won’t get most of the literary and personal history references) especially My Dark Places, you might over the first ten pages think he’s cashing in with a quick and easy retread of his sord
Dec 13, 2016 Darwin8u rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
"The word MORE summarized my private agenda. It was sexual compulsion fueled by a terror of human contact and the forfeit of mental control. I could brood, peep, stalk, think and self-narrate. I could not act."
- James Ellroy, The Hilliker Curse


Probably 3.5 stars. It is funky, narcissistic, bizarre, transgressive, beautiful and brutal. It is Oedipus chasing the memory of his dead mother in the faces and windows of random women. It isn't a book I'd recommend to my wife or my mother, but it was fas
Jan 16, 2012 Lou rated it really liked it
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
This novel The Hilliker curse has alot to do with his association and his obsession with women.. One clear assumption from reading his words is he loves to brood and a bit too much. He's a one of a kind character, recently I watched an interview of his on video here and here it was outrageous. This gave me the need to start reading from this gifted writer, the Black Dahlia is the only novel I have read of his to date and have many of his novels on the shelf who's spines need breaking.
Since his
Nuria Castaño monllor
Página 50. Con esto no puedo. No me interesa en absoluto
Lucy Somerhalder
Jan 29, 2015 Lucy Somerhalder rated it liked it
I really liked this book, despite really, intensely disliking Ellroy. It would have won a fourth star, but the concluding few chapters were supremely irritating. As a summary, he seems to abandon his exploration of self, and instead try and convince his readers (and himself?) that this latest woman is the ONE. Sigh. Maybe she is. I doubt it. Either way, shame.
Apr 05, 2015 Luke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard on the heels of my reading of My Dark Places comes this, a second exploration of the role of women in author James Ellroy's life.

You probably won't want to read it if you're sick of jacking-off-and-peeping stories. Because - though they're not as explicitly described as elsewhere - they're here. That and darkened-room fantasising. The short book reeks of control; of others, of self, and the lack thereof.

Ideally, this should be read in concert with My Dark Places. That book explains the im
Jul 08, 2011 Belinda rated it it was amazing
I have decided that I enjoy Ellroy's non-fiction even more than I love his fiction. I have read his fiction for years and enjoyed it and certainly known that Ellroy peppers his fiction with real people who have made an impression on him through the years. I have to say I love most everything about him--he's a walking contradiction (something I understand well)--right wing, vulgar, self aware, cynical, romantic, too crazy to be sane and too sane to be crazy. And a man who writes about the murder ...more
Tim Niland
Sep 18, 2010 Tim Niland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010-reads
James Ellroy's crime and political fiction is by turns compelling, awe-inspiring and annoying as hell, so it stands to reason that his non-fiction should follow the same pattern. Ellroy's mother was murdered in Los Angeles when he was a young boy and he has carried feelings of guilt and responsibility throughout his whole life. These feelings imbue his fiction with desperate tales of passionate strong willed women and have also led him to search in real life for a woman to fit this model. This b ...more
Nov 22, 2010 Janet rated it really liked it
What a weird, mesmerizing headlong kiss-and-tell memoir. I'm a huge Ellroy fan, there was no way I was going to miss this one. I just wish he'd slow up a little. I feel as if I'm on a high-speed bus tour of Paris, and someone's pointing out the major sights as we whiz by them. Would like to get out and walk around a bit, buy a kir and sit at a sidewalk cafe, drink in the scene.

But fascinating to read what was going on in this man's life as he was writing the books. Although sometimes the voice
Aug 20, 2010 Kristin rated it really liked it
I am not quite sure how I feel about Ellroy's latest venture. Though, I was affected by this memoir. At a young age, he began stalking women and continued to hone his talent to the current day. From breaking into homes, to obsessively looking for "The One", Hilliker is borderline psychotic in his pursuit of women. Most run from him, yet, a few are so completely enamored, they forget their own wedding vows to be with him. Maybe they are just attracted to the writer in him. Or, more disturbingly, ...more
Feb 01, 2012 Bert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely one of the most self-indulgent books I've ever read. Ellroy comes across as a deluded ego monster, jerking off in the dark. And yet there was something revelatory about it all, so what if it's ridiculous, pathetic, and pretentious? Oh, and he's right-wing, and a sucker for woman-worship (when he's not stalking them). Gulp. The writing has muscle - at 62 Ellroy writes like a hipster on speedballs - and all of his skeevy confessions felt true, and defiant, and we should thank him for th ...more
Sep 27, 2010 Gretchen rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it very much. Wouldn't recommend it except to major Ellroy fans or fellow diggers in the dirt with an eye for the creepy dark places.
Oct 14, 2016 Luis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Miserable y contundente

Destroza el concepto clásico del amor para enfrentar uno de los retratos más crudos de las relaciones reales. El amor como fin último, con el precio que hay que pagar. Imperdible.
Alison Hardtmann
Dec 09, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it liked it
Shelves: library-book
I've never been a fan of James Ellroy's noir-tinged novels set in post-war Los Angeles. He's got the hard-boiled patter down, but the stories never felt real. Twenty years ago, however, he wrote a book about his mother and, despite the unrelenting patois, the book sizzles with dysfunction and a reconciliation forever lost. In My Dark Places, Ellroy revisits his mother's murder from the direction of a cold case. He'd been ten years old at the time, his parents were divorced and his relationship w ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Jacqui rated it really liked it
Memorable Quotes
"I write stories to console her as a phantom. She is ubiquitous and never

"I cannot go to Them to find Her much longer. My obsessive will is too stretched. Their story must eclipse Hers in volume and content. I must honor Them and distinguish each one from Her."

"The San Gabriel Valley was blast-oven exile. Renegade rednecks and waterlogged wetbacks. A shit-kicker Shangri-la.
Of course, we moved there.
Of course, she died there.
Of course, I caused her death."

"I throw
Procyon Lotor
L'educazione sentimentale... L'educazione sentimentale di un orfano. Fuga fortunosa da fiaccanti furtive farmacopee virando velocemente verso ridondanti e rutilanti rodomontate romantiche. Terzo e definitivo atto, col come e quando James Ellroy riesce a non idealizzare la madre assassinata, a non fossilizzarsi su di lei, ad imparare a non cercare solo lei nelle altre donne ma pure a non dimenticarla. Dopo "i miei luoghi oscuri" e "corpi da reato" ci riprova pure qua. Definitivo perch stavolta ci ...more
Aug 11, 2014 RLL rated it liked it
Scope it out in 3D, hepcats. Dig those crazy goggles. Hit Amazon and buy yourself a pair of X-Ray Spex.

Then scoot off out of Normaltown and rent, beg, borrow, steal or even buy a copy of Ellroy's first memoir: My Dark Places. Check out my alliteratively amped review of that torrid tome here on this site.

In this memoir, Ellroy describes his first memoir as self-serving. That goes treble-quadruple for this book. Yes, he rehashes the history in potted form...

Underwear-sniffing peeper and prowler. H
Aug 31, 2011 Mazola1 rated it liked it
If James Ellroy isn't one of your favorite authors, and if you don't know who the Halliker in the title refers to, you probably won't like this book very much. If, on the other hand, you are among the legions of devoted Ellroy prose sniffers and know all too well exactly who Hilliker is, you will think this book is great literature. The Hilliker Curse is Ellroy's latest foray into the murky world of his tortured psyche. Written as a memoir, it recounts his real and imagined relationships with wo ...more
Aug 23, 2016 Corielle rated it did not like it
I am five reviews behind because I HATED this book & didn't feel like putting the time into a review. So...does that count as a review?

“I am best served in my life’s goals if I lay in the dark, brood, sleep, listen to classical music, spend time with my few friends, and chase women. That’s what I do. I chase women. I spend time with my few friends. I brood. I sleep. I earn money, and I work.”

If you can read the excerpt above without rolling your eyes, then maybe give this one a shot. Persona
Dec 20, 2010 Paul rated it it was amazing
There are more than a few readers and critics panning The Hilliker Curse. Some believe Ellroy is covering old ground... his mother's murder and the subsequent effects on his psyche. Since ager ten, Ellroy has been trying to fill the maternal void. We've heard him tell the story a thousand times in numerous ways. We've seen the result... numerous novels that are some of the best American fiction ever composed... yes... composed... like Beethoven.

I'm confident someone else much better qualified th
Apr 16, 2013 Kenneth rated it liked it
I'm willing to accept a great deal of psychotic egotism in an author and James Ellroy doesn't disappoint in his second memoir The Hilliker Curse. Though he offers plenty of wince-worthy self-aggrandizement in this book, he also offers a startlingly frank confession of both his perversions and his affections. Neither one is easy for a man to admit, let alone detail as Ellroy does here. However, I think this book's real value is as a journal of a great writer during a period of time that was both ...more
Travis Todd
Nov 26, 2011 Travis Todd rated it it was ok
I can't remember the first Ellroy book I read, but I do remember becoming immediately hooked by his style and characters and fascination with the dark side in general and that of L.A. in particular. I devoured roughly five or six of his books within a month and a half and couldn't get enough of the breathless pace. THEN I found a copy of My Dark Places and it was like, holy shit, here's where it all came from.

I found a remaindered copy of The Hilliker Curse at Powell's bookstore in Portland O
May 07, 2012 Maduck831 rated it liked it
Another one of those "three and a half stars" books. I'm a fan of Ellroy and enjoyed the writing and "tidbits" about women. Length wise I couldn't see this book being any longer...I'm curious now to see about his current state with women since this book came out in 2010. The book itself was a "memoir" of sorts, it also at times read like a confessional, however, it never in my opinion veered into "poor me" territory or felt that Ellroy was just bitching about his life (granted he went through a ...more
Dec 25, 2011 Dayna rated it liked it
In many ways this seemed to be a retread of My Dark Places, thought I read that so many years ago I could be wrong. A look inside the mind of a man who is constantly obsessed with women. I couldn't help but think that he must be exhausted (or very sleepy) from all the fantasizing and jacking off, though, on the page, he seems to maintain his energy. I suppose the nervous breakdown gives him some pause ... As always, I find his writing compulsively readable. I crashed through this in a little mor ...more
Mar 17, 2014 Steve rated it it was ok
I love memoirs, and I used to love Ellroy. If this wasn't written by him it would not have gotten published, and I would not have read it.

When he is straight forward telling the stories of the loves in his life (and infatuations) the story hooked me in. But then he starts talking about Her and She and US and Them and The Curse - and Beethoven (well, he just kind of drops the name a lot, never really explaining why or what he loves about the music so much).

Ellroy is a auto-didactic mystery writ
Oct 19, 2010 Jack rated it really liked it
If you've read Ellroy's fiction and My Dark Places, then absolutely read this book. If you are short in one field or the other though, correct that before picking this up. Unlike My Dark Places, there's no mystery to drive the narrative, only the author's personal demons, and they're much better understood with the background of the author's earlier efforts to face them. In particular, he talks about how his life has played out since My Dark Places, while also discussion the books he wrote since ...more
I have yet to read anything fictional written by James Ellroy although I have some books home that is waiting. And all I can say about this book is that James Ellroy likes women, a lot! Now I knew from the beginning that it would be about his relationship with women, I just thought the book would be more interesting to read than it was since his tragic background. Instead, I got a young peeping Tom obsessed with women. At least, the book got better as he grew up, got over his addictions and stop ...more
Jon Cone
Feb 14, 2011 Jon Cone rated it liked it
It begins strongly, then something happens. Nail in the dirt.
Nothing changes. It keeps going. The curse, Ellroy's horrific family tragedy, is well known by now. We know that story. That story haunts this story. Exteriors don't exist here. It is all internal. The book circles round and round. Ellroy pursues women, through pain, through drugs and peeping, he keeps at it. The relentless pursuit is a kind of madness. The temper is ferocious. One woman, another woman. Marriage for years and years, a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Dickens
  • Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre
  • Hilary and Jackie
  • Tolkien: a Biography
  • Eugenia
  • The Echo from Dealey Plaza: the True Story of the First African American on the White House Secret Service Detail and His Quest for Justice After the Assassination of JFK
  • L'instinct de mort
  • Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism
  • Between the Sheets: Nine 20th Century Women Writers & Their Famous Literary Partnerships
  • The Electronic Revolution
  • Lifted
  • The Way the Future Was: A Memoir
  • A History of Japan
  • Lady Gregory's Toothbrush
  • Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America
  • Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life
  • Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference
  • To School Through The Fields
James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz—were international best sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time magazine’s Best Book (fiction) of 1995; his memoir, My Dark Places, was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. His novel The Cold Six Thousand was a New York ...more
More about James Ellroy...

Share This Book

“I learn things late–and only the hard way.” 17 likes
“I didn't care who we were. I required no consummation. I knew that whoever we were and whatever we had would never stop.” 4 likes
More quotes…