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Extended Audio Sample The Hilliker Curse, by James Ellroy Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (354 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Ellroy Narrator: James Ellroy Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Forceful and unsparing in its revelations…Marvelous fury, passion, and energy.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A remarkable memoir…Once again…Ellroy [has] come up with the goods.”


  • “The words bounce around in a world where tense is fluid, where hard-consonants rule the day, where conventional definitions are tossed on their heads. He pushes his readers’ limits by demanding that they enter a world created solely for the purpose of brutally truthful revelation.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “As fascinating as it is at times utterly disturbing.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Ellroy is expert and relentless at dramatizing the effects [of his obsession].”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Ellroy’s acrobatic pizzazz is beyond doubt…This is literary knife-throwing at its most exhilarating and dangerous.”

    Observer (London)

  • “Perhaps the most confessional memoir I’ve ever read.” 

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Terrible, exhilarating, exhauting, entertaining, and downright tragic. It’s also brutally honest.” 

    Las Vegas Review Journal

  • “There’s no doubt about it: James Ellroy is a fascinating character…He’s as hard to ignore as a burning fire truck…The revelations are compelling, as the author indicts the tough-guy persona he has so meticulously constructed.”


  • “A fervent portrait of the artist as a young screw-up—an old one, too, who writes like an avenging angel…It’s vintage Ellroy.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Kenneth | 2/16/2014

    " 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 emotionally and creatively significant. As much as I enjoyed reading Ellroy dish on his own private dramas, I was much more keen to read about his rejection of his own style in The Cold Six Thousand, what led to his very different voice in Blood's a Rover, and his conceptualization of a second LA Quartet (the first of which, Perfidia, is rumored to be out later this year). This was interesting, but only that - it's no My Dark Places but still worth reading for the hardcore Ellroy fans. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Brian Fagan | 2/11/2014

    " It's just a brilliant staccato-written book. It also mirrors so many of my own thoughts and feelings about broads. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Les Webb | 2/8/2014

    " Absolutely hated this book. Two hundred plus pages of Ellroy talking about past relationships. Fuck off old man. We don't give a shit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Chris | 2/3/2014

    " As compelling, blunt, noir, intelligent and creepy as his fiction. If you like that, don't miss this confessional autobiography about the women in his life, starting with his mother, murdered when he was a kid. This book explains a lot about Ellroy's fiction, especially its dark corners, although he's so dismissive of his last memoir (My Dark Places) that I'm left thinking that he left a lot untold here in an attempt to win over his audience in spite of his self-abasing egomania. "

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