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The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women by…
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The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women (2010)

by James Ellroy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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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 the intricate and spellbinding novels, are just sideshows. Only Bloods a Rover is mentioned by name.

That said, by exploring this thread of his life, it's easy to see why his novels turned out as they did, and for this reason it's a revealing read.

If you like Ellroy, you'll like this. If you've never read Ellroy, go and do so first. ( )
  bumblearse | Feb 6, 2014 |
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 the intricate and spellbinding novels, are just sideshows. Only Bloods a Rover is mentioned by name.

That said, by exploring this thread of his life, it's easy to see why his novels turned out as they did, and for this reason it's a revealing read.

If you like Ellroy, you'll like this. If you've never read Ellroy, go and do so first. ( )
  bumblearse | Feb 6, 2014 |
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 with his mother was not great. He had wished her dead just three months earlier. My Dark Places is an amazing book. It's not particularly well-written, Ellroy can't leave the detective magazine lingo behind and refers to his mother, somewhat disconcertingly, as the Redhead throughout the book, but it resonates with emotion and regret.

The Hilliker Curse is his follow-up memoir and in it he attributes his string of failed relationships to his abruptly truncated relationship with his mother. He's not without self-awareness, something that is usually missing in books about infidelity: I always get what I want. I more often than not suffocate or discard what I want the most. It cuts me loose to yearn and profitably repeat the pattern. He's selfish to an astonishing degree, driven, self-obsessed and deeply religious (the justifications for breaking up marriages, his own and those of the women he meets are a little shaky).

Ellroy begins with his own parents' marriage. They divorced when he was young, or as Ellroy put it: My parents split the sheets later that year. Jean Hilliker got primary custody. She put my dad on skates and rolled him to a cheap pad a few blocks away. Ellroy's father gets him back after his mother's murder, but isn't what could be even loosely termed a good father. Ellroy ends up in a wretched basement apartment, hooked on Benzedrex inhalers and any pills he finds in the Hancock Park homes he breaks into. He has, not surprisingly, trouble finding a girl willing to go out with him.

Surprisingly, Ellroy's odd pulp-fiction language serves this book well. It would just be too intense without the distance of obsolete idioms. He gets clean, using AA as a support and a place to meet women: Only lonely and haunted women would grok my gravity. They were sister misfits attuned to my wavelength. Only they grooved internal discourse and sex as sanctified flame. Their soiled souls were socked in sync with yours truly.

As Ellroy's fortunes improve, it becomes more apparent what an ass he is. All the heavy lifting in relationships is done by his partners. When married, he does not do any domestic chores, but needs to eat well and live in nice surroundings. He prefers solitude with his partner of the moment and so discourages any sort of social life in his wives. He hates other places. Amsterdam is described as Truly Shitsville and he leaves sightseeing in Paris for the geeks, freaks and fruitcake artistes.

What saves this book in the end is Ellroy's honesty and a sense of fair play toward the women in his life. The relationships may have all soured, but he's willing to put the blame squarely on his own shoulders, and even figures out toward the end that his mother was not the bad guy in his story. ( )
5 vote RidgewayGirl | Oct 18, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prosperi, CarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I will take Fate by the throat.

- LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Dedication
To Erika Schickel
First words
So women will love me.
Pour que les femmes m'aiment.
J'ai invoqué la Malédiction il y a un demi-siècle. Elle définit mon existence depuis mon dixième anniversaire.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307593509, Hardcover)

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 dead.” She was murdered three months later.

The Hilliker Curse
is a predator’s confession, a treatise on guilt and on the power of malediction, and above all, a cri de cœur. James Ellroy unsparingly describes his shattered childhood, his delinquent teens, his writing life, his love affairs and marriages, his nervous breakdown, and the beginning of a relationship with an extraordinary woman who may just be the long-sought Her.

A layered narrative of time and place, emotion and insight, sexuality and spiritual quest, The Hilliker Curse is a brilliant, soul-baring revelation of self. It is unlike any memoir you have ever read.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:50 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The legendary crime writer unsparingly describes his shattered childhood, his delinquent teens, his writing life, his love affairs and marriages, his nervous breakdown, and the beginning of a relationship with an extraordinary woman who may just be the long-sought "Her."… (more)

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