The Hilliker Curse, By James Ellroy

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The Independent Culture

Compared to the Nick Hornby brand of cosy British male confessional, crime writer Ellroy's hectic memoir of "my pursuit of women" comes on like a triple tequila next to half of mild. It all goes back to Ma – of course.

Sulphurously close to his divorced mother, Jean Hilliker, ten-year-old James had to endure her murder and the gaping wound it left. The frenzied quest for the ladies that ensued will leave even the most avid Don Juan hankering for a milky drink and an early night.

Ellroy's chase after bedroom affirmation and his endless "dumb-ass liaisons" are captured in the choppy, gutsy, turbo-charged prose of his noir novels. Yet (no surprise) a hunt for flesh becomes the pursuit of a love to "cut through my fear and rage". Which, at length, arrives.