New York Times Editors’ Choice Debutiful Best Book of the Year Crimereads Best Debut of August “Hertz has managed to tell a story of queer healing with all the narrative force of a thriller and the searing fury of an indictment.”—The New York Times Book Review
This fearless debut novel about the elusive promise of justice is a “herald of disruption, transcendence, and resilience, and its momentum is unlikely to halt anytime soon” (Bomb Magazine).
Growing up in suburban New York, Dylan lived through the unfathomable: three years as a victim of sex trafficking at the hands of Vincent, a troubled young man who promised to marry Dylan when he turned eighteen. Years later—long after a police investigation that went nowhere, and after the statute of limitations for the crimes perpetrated against him have run out—the long shadow of Dylan’s trauma still looms over the fragile life in the city he’s managed to build with his fiancé, Moans, who knows little of Dylan’s past. His continued existence depends upon an all-important mantra: To survive, you live through it, but never look back.
Then a groundbreaking new law—the Child Victims Act—opens a new way foreword: a one-year window during which Dylan can sue his abusers. But for someone who was trafficked as a child, does money represent justice—does his pain have a price? As Dylan is forced to look back at what happened to him and try to make sense of his past, he begins to explore a drug and sex-fueled world of bathhouses, clubs, and strangers’ apartments, only to emerge, barely alive, with a new clarity of purpose: a righteous determination to gaze, unflinching, upon the brutal men whose faces have haunted him for a decade, and to extract justice on his own terms.
“Hertz writes with a powerful blend of publicly experienced scene and deeply private interiority...[he] expertly presents both the rapturous façade of post-closet gay life and the cracks in its hastily constructed foundation,” (Slant). Hertz’s debut is “cathartic and revelatory…[and] a gritty recovery story that packs a punch” (The Bay Area Reporter). It offers a startling glimpse at the unraveling of trauma—and the light that peeks, faintly, and often in surprising ways, from the other side of the window.
Kyle Dillon Hertz is the author of The Lookback Window, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His work can be found in Esquire, Freeman’s, Time, and more. He received his MFA from NYU and a residency from Yaddo. He teaches at The New School.
"Hertz has managed to tell a story of queer healing with all the narrative force of a thriller and the searing fury of an indictment. It’s an achievement of language, of style, in which the process of finding one’s way back to the world is considered at least in part as an act of learning to 'speak the unspeakable.' It’s a matter, Hertz seems to say, of finding the right words. . . . At his best, Hertz sheds the trappings of traditional realism, adopting instead a swerving, almost psychedelic style that mirrors the abrupt and mercurial perceptions of a turbulent mind. He follows the worthy example of writers like Jean Rhys, Gary Indiana and Denis Johnson."—The New York Times Book Review