They are separated by an ocean and by a century and a half, but in other
ways Ivan Ilyich and H. L. Hix are not so far apart. Ivan Ilyich’s former
colleagues in the law courts of St. Petersburg go through the motions of
mourning his death, keeping to themselves their relief that it was he, not
themselves, who had died. So do H. L. Hix’s former colleagues in the
English Department of the University of Wyoming. Ivan Ilyich is hanging
curtains when he bumps his kidney, sustaining the injury that eventually
kills him. H. L. Hix is mowing the dandelions that have overgrown his
gravel driveway when a kicked-up rock inflicts the injury to his kidney that
eventually kills him. Ivan Ilyich wishes he had more chances to play
bridge, and H. L. Hix wishes there were an Indian restaurant in his
backward town. Ivan Ilyich’s weakening body contrasts with the sturdy
frame of his servant Gerasim, and H. L. Hix’s decaying body pales before
the vigorous body of his home health-care aide Gary Simm.
But just as one hears within walls the humming of hived honeybees, so
within the incidental similarities that associate Ivan Ilyich and H. L. Hix,
the reader hears in The Death of H. L. Hix the humming of the ultimate
and universal fate that unites writer, reader, and written-of into the one
protagonist of the one story.
About the Author
He knows it is an exaggeration, but still H. L. Hix finds the report of his death plausible.
About the Editor
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put H. L. Hix together again.
About the Translator
Ev’n from the tomb the voice of H. L. Hix cries.
With his debut novel, The Death of H.L. Hix, the poet, essayist, critic, and philosopher, H.L. Hix—not to be confused with the titular H.L. Hix, deceased—makes a brilliant and, thankfully, pre-mortem entrance into the world of fiction. Look beyond the campus satire that sets this story into motion, beyond the comedy of errors that leads to H.L. Hix’s demise; look past the exquisitely and deliciously detailed ordinariness of H.L. Hix’s origins and everyman ways; pay little attention to the fact that H.L. Hix’s corpse resides in Wyoming, or that it’s as American a cadaver as was Louis L’Amour’s, and you will discover beating at the center of this literary post-mortem the afterlife of a Russian soul, very likely reincarnated from a philologist that breathed mostly irony. I’m tempted to call H.L. Hix Count Lev of Laramie. I’m tempted to say after reading this gem of a novel, “The Death of Ivan who?” Hix’s The Death of H.L. Hix is such a joy to read—so cleverly constructed, so gorgeously written, so sharp and wry, amusing and insightful—it deserves to be read and reread and passed around from reader to reader until the paper on which it is printed dissolves into thin air.
David Grand, author of Mount Terminus
The Death H.L. Hix is wondrously funny and tragic, a perfect existential collision updated to these contemporary times.
Debra DiBlasi, author of Selling the Farm
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