Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Finally Done: "The Hilliker Curse" by James Ellroy

Finally Done: The Hilliker Curse by James Ellroy, 2010, 9780307593504

Well... Ellroy is even more fucked up than I realized.

Yes, you too may end up a psychological mess when your mother is raped, murdered, and dumped on the side of the road when you are only ten-years-old. Especially if you are then sent off to a shiftless, alcoholic father and receive little to no guidance on grief and life.

Ellroy's tales of women troubles. Starting out as a young peeping tom and underwear burglar. Then a  drug addict and all around creep. He gets cleaned up and employed as a caddy. Moves East and starts selling novels and marries the first time. He then self destructs a few times along the way from marriages in New York, Kansas City, and California.

This book started out fantastic. The writing was superb and Ellroy admits to everything and seems to know himself very well. But, I suppose that knowledge was earned only after all the screw-ups, dangerous infatuations and obsessions he has for different women. How his fervent and unreasonable demands for intimacy are all wrapped up in grief and loss for his mother. Ellroy goes into all sorts of explanations and reasoning for his behavior but as the years went by he kept doing it.

I am presuming that after writing his first autobio, My Dark Places, going through more and more trouble and writing this book allowed him some insight into his own behavior. After all, if your normal is craziness how do you know?

At book's end Ellroy is in a relationship with a woman he partly wooed away from her husband. Ellroy writes that the latest love infatuation already had a dead marriage.  I'll have to believe him only because the Ellroy's the only one talking. His behavior creeps me out and I don't see how she is falling for it. Ellroy has tons of charm and delightful gab. He is a great showman and has a good amount of intensity that bears out in those author photos of his stare melting a hole through the camera lens. I guess some chicks dig that rather than run.

He's obsessive. He's weird. His main hobby is to sit in the dark, listen to Beethoven, and think. 

I ran out of steam in the last 40 pages. He ends the novel in loving bliss with his latest woman but it just feels like one more trip around the block. I wore out. I'm not sure how he does not.

1. My wife and I went to a luncheon at the 1998 PLA conference in Kansas City. We were waiting in line at the book signing table and he told a person ahead of us that, "I write by longhand. That's why my right hand is bigger and stronger." My joke was, "Oh, that's why." I did not make the joke to him but I thought the gag was hilarious.
2. I enjoy sitting and thinking and listening to music. But, I do more than just that.

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