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The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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From 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 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 text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
There’s no doubt about it: James Ellroy is a fascinating character. Whether you go for his big-dog-howling-at-the-moon shtick or not, he’s as hard to ignore as a burning fire truck. As he becomes better known, it becomes harder to separate the man from his books—and this book won’t help. His first memoir, My Dark Places (1996), explored the murder of his mother, Jean Hilliker, when he was 10, and the woman-shaped hole in his psyche that he has been falling through ever since. In this short, breathless follow-up, Ellroy attempts to “remove The Curse” by owning his maternal bloodline and by giving us blow-by-blow accounts of his great loves and losses. At first, the revelations are compelling, as the author indicts the tough-guy persona he has so meticulously constructed. Though told with his customary braggadocio, his obsessiveness and neediness are so well limned that it makes the reader’s skin crawl. But his new introspection goes only so far: Ellroy sees himself through the heroic lens of a life writ large, his relationships ordained and heaven-sent. And as their number grows, and their duration lessens, our belief in this enterprise weakens. It becomes a more common tale of a big man with a bigger ego (he coins the word Ellrovian) who blows chance after chance at making relationships work. In the end, his insight fails him, and instead of lifting the curse, he seems more in its thrall than ever. --Keir Graff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As a writer, Ellroy has always been a hard-charging and take-no-prisoners kind of story teller. He writes crime fictiona and mystery novels which expore the underside of humanity, not just the USA (as he pointedly did with AMERICAN TABLOID, THE COLD SIX THOUSAND and BLOOD'S A ROVER). Those novels often treat minorites harshly -- the way conservative males (which is the type of man often drawn to law enforcement and politics) often do. They also often try to position women as sexual cannon fodder. But Ellroy's own history (and, indeed, the mindset of his many protagonists) won't completely allow that. For Ellroy, the image of his long-dead mother (murdered when he was still young) and the undying urge to please her have been a haunting refrain.
Ellroy uses that referain -- So women will love me -- throughout this memory, a litany that is at once sad, unnerving and deadly honest. Ellroy admiting he'd wished his mother would die seems to have unnerved that reviewer before me to the point that he took it personaly (as no other human on the planet had ever done that where a loved one, or a friend, or even a stranger, was concerned). By beginning with that confession, the reader is alerted that this will be a warts and all -- pants dropped in the middle of the town square -- kind of memoir. And Ellroy DOES confess to it all: the petty crimes, the drug use, the marriages entered into for all the wrong reasons.
But it's a short memoir, and if the reader hangs on until the last few chapters, they will notice not only a change in tone, but a change in attitude where Ellroy is concerned. The last woman he meets, in 2008/2009 (the one who most embodies all of the elements of his spiritual hauntress), literally forces Ellroy to become a better man. And that actually shines through on the page, in Ellroy's prose. It's a rare literary feat. And one of the few memoirs worth reading.