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The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  705 Ratings  ·  110 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
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Oct 14, 2014 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 20, 2012 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
Weeping-Jesus-on-the-cross, what sort of wayward trip was that? I suppose blazing through such in one sitting is the ideal route, but I am left here shaking my head and searching for ashes in my mouth.
Aug 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oli Yerovi
De cómo Ellroy sobrevive y busca su lugar en el mundo a través de la escritura, luego de que asesinaran a su madre cuando él era niño. El autor, a través de sus novelas quiere redimirse y absolver la culpa que siente por haber deseado la muerte de su progenitora días antes de su muerte. Y tanto en la imaginación como en sus interacciones reales va a la caza de mujeres que le permitan completar a aquella que le falta y nunca pudo llegar a conocer en realidad. En este libro lo acompañamos a entend ...more
nothing really happened but i guess the title was accurate. however i gave it 3 stars as i love the way he writes.
Alison Hardtmann
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
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 c ...more
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 14, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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“I learn things late–and only the hard way.” 18 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
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