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The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women
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The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  525 ratings  ·  88 reviews
The legendary crime writer gives us a raw, brutally candid memoir—as high intensity and as riveting as any of his novels—about his obsessive search for “atonement in women.”

The year was 1958. Jean Hilliker had divorced her fast-buck hustler husband and resurrected her maiden name. Her son, James, was ten years old. He hated and lusted after his mother and “summoned her dea
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Published September 7th 2010 by Random House Audio (first published September 1st 2006)
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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
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
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
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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
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
Lucy Somerhalder
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 c ...more
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.
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 last the book got better as he grew up, got over his addictions and stop be ...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
Travis Todd
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
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
Jon Cone
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
As you would expect from Ellroy, the prose has a spark and rhythm that pulls you through from start to finish at pace. It's more relaxed than The Cold Six Thousand, but then this is a memoir.

For those of you who want exacting details of events, from early childhood to the present day, you're going to be disappointed. Be sure, this is a thematic memoir that deals strictly with one aspect of Ellroy's life: women. Everything that else that has happened in his life, from his wayward beginnings to t
Bookmarks Magazine
There are plenty of things to love about James Ellroy's mysteries--from intriguing yet morally questionable characters to the particular staccato character of his prose. Both are present in The Hilliker Curse, but critics were much less impressed with this memoir than with his fiction. Most felt his prose style confusing, particularly in cases where clarity would seem required. They also had trouble sympathizing with Ellroy's predations, even when he presented a reasonable explanation for his be ...more
Paulo Migliacci
People always assume I like James Ellroy, because I’m a noir buff, have a lot of his books, and share to some extent his infatuation with Anne Sofie von Otter and pulp (while reading ‘The Hilliker Curse’, I found out that he is a fellow Spillane fan -though I think my appreciation is more tongue-in-cheek than his). The thing is, I read him mostly because Ellroy became a style benchmark for modern noir, but I must confess that his writing annoys me a bit, and what works reasonably well for crime ...more
Great read! What starts as old guy looking back at his pervert teens and twenties (peeping tom/panty sniffing stuff) becomes a surprisingly revealing memoir of love and loss. Ellroy spends the majority of the book discussing his failed second marriage and subsequent failed relationship after that. Instead of a bitter diatribe about lost love, his chronicle of this period are love letters to women he still cares deeply about.
And those jazzy prose! The Demon Dog hasn't lost any of his bite:
I don't altogether know why I even finished this. It's miles from being as well written and deep as Ellroy thinks it is, though I suppose I appreciate his willingness to dig deep and disclose candidly the ugliest things about himself. Yet by the end even that seemed rote and practised, the same way his jivin' hep-cat lingo had gone well-beyond tiresome by thirty or forty pages in. I understand he believes he's the finest writer living today, but I wish he imagined that a fine writer could vary t ...more
Kit Fox
Well, I was hoping to get more of Ellroy's personal, post-childhood history, and this sure had some of it. I don't doubt that some people will come away from this convinced that Ellroy's manic obsession with Beethoven, women, and profanity qualify him as a AAA nut-job cum raging asshole. And that does appear to be the case, but he's still a monster of crime fiction whose works I will continue to seek out. Also didn't know that he had a complete and utter flip-out shortly after finishing The Cold ...more
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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...
The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, #1) L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet, #3) American Tabloid (Underworld USA, #1) The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet, #2) White Jazz (L.A. Quartet, #4)

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“I learn things late-and only the hard way.” 12 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.” 3 likes
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