“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nobody Move, This Is A (Short) Review: THE HILLIKER CURSE: MY PURSUIT OF WOMEN by James Ellroy

James Ellroy has written about the impact of his mother’s murder in the memoir MY DARK PLACES (1996), and dedicated his novel THE BLACK DAHLIA (1987) to her memory. THE HILLIKER CURSE: MY PURSUIT OF WOMEN (William Heinemann, £16.99) is another memoir, but here Ellroy broadens his remit to discuss how Geneva Hillker’s murder in 1958, when Ellroy was ten years old, set the life-long agenda for his relationship with the opposite sex. Rigorously honest about his early days of criminal activity, voyeurism, drug abuse and anti-social behaviour, it’s equally candid when Ellroy documents how the failures of his personal relationships fuelled his fictional fantasies of brutal men going to war on behalf of vulnerable women. Then there’s the allegation that Ellroy has exploited his mother’s death: “I read from MY DARK PLACES,” he writes. “The six thousandth public performance of my dead-mother act … A man called me glib. I brusquely rebuked him. I said she was my mother - not his. I said I’d paid the price - and he hadn’t.” The prose is Ellroy’s usual cocktail of slang, mangled idiom and staccato rhythms, an electrifying blend that fuels the most compulsively self-flagellating memoir you’ll read this year. - Declan Burke

  For a longer take on THE HILLIKER CURSE, Peter Murphy’s review in last weekend’s Irish Times is well worth checking out …