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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: September 2010 ISBN: 9780307875860
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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

  • As fascinating as it is at times utterly disturbing.  Entertainment Weekly
  • Crime writer James Ellroy’s most compelling mystery story has always been his own . . . But The Hilliker Curse is not meant to be merely a confession. It is an act of creation . . . There’s a truth of feeling in it, too, an underlying sense of what it is actually like to live in the vortex of an impossible yearning . . . Ellroy is expert and relentless at dramatizing the effects [of his obsession].  Wall Street Journal
     
  • This latest book is Ellroy’s most intimate and personal . . . It’s forceful and unsparing in its revelations . . . [His sentences] make you grateful to read his prose, with its marvelous fury, passion and energy. They also compel you to keep rooting for him.  San Francisco Chronicle
     
  • Crime novelist Ellroy has given us a wild memoir in his hard-boiled, jazzy, staccato style . . . Quite a read.  New York Post
  • Perhaps the most confessional memoir I’ve ever read.  Dallas Morning News
  • From the fantastic writer who brought us unforgettable books like L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia, comes this extraordinary in-depth work about his own life. As always, Ellroy is extremely explicit, writing every word of this memoir with an in-your-face passion, elegance, and anger that will literally stop readers in their tracks . . . Bravo! Bookpleasures.com
  • Ellroy’s characteristically unforgiving portrait of himself as an angry and frustrated teenager is a masterpiece of savage economy . . . There’s no doubt that Ellroy’s is a singular voice. Observer (UK)
  • Fascinating . . . A searching and difficult but utterly compelling and often heartbreaking memoir of love and obsession from noir master James Ellroy . . . Readers familiar with Ellroy will recognize and appreciate the machine-gun prose, Los Angeles chiaroscuro and tortured psyche that Ellroy has made his own. Shelf Awareness
  • 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
     
     “The Hilliker Curse centers mainly around the author’s doomed relationships, but also gives tantalizing glimpses into the mind of Ellroy the writer . . . As always, the writing is razor sharp, infused with Ellroy’s patented abrasive black humor. He holds nothing back.
  • 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. Booklist
  • “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.”

    Economist

  • “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.”

    Booklist

  • “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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melissa | 1/31/2014

    " That James Ellroy is one crazy motherf*cker. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beckydham | 1/25/2014

    " That was exquisitely frustrating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Craig | 1/22/2014

    " The first quarter or so is dull, repetitive and not new information, but once the writing career kicks in this memoir really takes off, albeit you'll need to be able to endure a lot of self loathing to get through it! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bookmarks Magazine | 1/18/2014

    " 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 behavior. While many found in his story something to pity, that didn't mean they liked the book. However, Ellroy's most devoted fans may appreciate this added insight into the author's psyche. The rest can move on. This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonfaith | 1/10/2014

    " 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ellen | 1/5/2014

    " James Ellroy's previous memoir ("My Dark Places") was so much better! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Valérianne | 12/26/2013

    " interesting how to built a writer "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 11/17/2013

    " Ellroy is out there. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 11/2/2013

    " Ellroy at his most memoirishly vulnerable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 10/26/2013

    " The story of his life with women, beginning with his murdered mother. Interesting how he uses his own wives/girlfriends in his novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeremy E. Evans | 1/9/2013

    " It would be a disservice to yourself to not listen to Ellroy's reading of this book. Read like a confession it's probably the closest you'll get to comprehending the man. In fact, in some parts of the book Ellroy the reader seems to mock Ellroy the writer. He should narrate more of his books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 12/10/2012

    " A very enlightening look into the mind of author James Ellroy, the history behind his mother's murder, and his own misogonistic ways. A good read for any Ellroy reader. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Boozy | 10/11/2012

    " couldn't force myself to finish this. I can't believe it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Colette | 9/24/2012

    " Not my favorite. Borderline annoying. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lorraine | 9/6/2012

    " Ellroy bares his soul here. He's a weirdo and aint afraid to share. Anyone who has him pegged as a Misogynist is way off. His love of woman is all consuming. They need to read this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ward Howarth | 6/30/2012

    " Ellroy looks farther into himself than maybe he ever has. His razor-sharp staccato stylings cut deep. Naked soul-baring. A read like no other. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephen Murley | 1/2/2012

    " This is a must read for any Ellroy fan! A personal, poignant memoir from one of America's crime novelists. I couldn't put it down. Man, this guy ha done some stuff. I live in downtown San Francisco and I always keep an eye out hoping I spot Ellroy haunting some of his old digs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeremy E. | 3/29/2011

    " It would be a disservice to yourself to not listen to Ellroy's reading of this book. Read like a confession it's probably the closest you'll get to comprehending the man. In fact, in some parts of the book Ellroy the reader seems to mock Ellroy the writer. He should narrate more of his books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 12/8/2010

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

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melissa | 11/17/2010

    " That James Ellroy is one crazy motherf*cker. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ellen | 11/8/2010

    " James Ellroy's previous memoir ("My Dark Places") was so much better! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 10/22/2010

    " Ellroy at his most memoirishly vulnerable. "

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About the Author
Author James Ellroy

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His LA Quartet novels—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz—were international bestsellers. American Tabloid was Time’s Novel of the Year for 1995, and his memoir My Dark Places was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. He lives on the California coast.