Par for the Curse


I started reading James Ellroy’s memoir—The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women. It dragged me by the hair, threw me down, and wouldn’t let me up till I ate his words. The pace is staccato with terse, beat-like sentences that never dangle but hammer home the prose.

One minute a cringe, the next a grin when you hit a kind of  cartoon boink in the text that makes you laugh when you probably shouldn’t. For instance, on a icy drive with his soon-to-be murdered mother he writes:

She had smiled and went “Oops” every time she banged a mailbox.


Fool drivers smoked their tires down to bare tread and skittered into cornfields.

The book is spiked with darkness. Self-scathing revelations lie scattered like buckshot while the author pulses onward with obsession and guilt and races non-stop through drug-addiction, booze, and a teenaged crime spree. He’s searching for the Other, the Her that haunts his life…his murdered mom and the woman who’ll save him from himself.

How does a young Peeping Tom find the light?

You have to go with the confessional flow to find out.

Not the usual Hollywood memoir, that’s for certain. It’s a hard-boiled season in hell as only Ellroy could write.