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The Distance Between: A Memoir (American Lives ) (Paperback)

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(Biography and Memoir)


At eighteen years old, with no high school diploma, a growing rap sheet, and a failed relationship with his estranged father, Timothy J. Hillegonds took a one-way flight from Chicago to Colorado in hopes of leaving his mounting rage and frustration behind. His plan was simple: snowboard, hang out, live an uncomplicated life.

The Distance Between chronicles how Hillegonds’s plan went awry after he immediately jumped head first into a turbulent relationship with April, a Denny’s coworker and single mother. At once passionate and volatile, their relationship was fueled by vodka, crystal methamphetamine, and poverty—and it sometimes became violent. Mere months after moving to the mountains, when the stakes felt like they couldn’t be higher, Hillegonds learned April was pregnant with his child.

More than just a harrowing story of addiction and abuse or a simple mea culpa, The Distance Between is a finely wrought exploration of, and reckoning with, absent fathers, fatherhood, violence, adolescent rage, white male privilege, and Hillegonds’s own toxic masculinity. With nuance and urgency, The Distance Between takes readers through the grit of life on the margins while grappling with the problematic nature of one man’s existence.


About the Author

Timothy J. Hillegonds has published work in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Rumpus, Brevity, and other publications. He lives in Chicago with his wife and serves as contributing editor for Slag Glass City, a digital journal of the urban essay arts.

Praise For…

“If more men were capable of this kind of humility and vulnerability, who knows what changes we might see in our definitions of masculinity?"—Ryan Smernoff, Los Angeles Review of Books

— Ryan Smernoff

"The title of this book–The Distance Between–captures, not only the miles travelled and the motion created in the story it tells, but as the ending of the book asks us to look forward, the title also conveys something about that space between who we used to be and the people we can become."—Penny Guisinger, Brevity

— Penny Guisinger

"If I could level any criticism against Hillegonds' tour de force memoir, it is that I wish it had gone on for a few more chapters so that we could learn more about his recovery process. Then again, that's not a flaw in the book but a testament to the captivating story it tells."—(Shepherdstown) Observer

— Gonzalo Baeza

"Earnest, well-written and compelling."—Timothy Parfitt, Newcity Lit

— Timothy Parfitt

“What a gorgeous book. Hillegonds’s candor and insight are a marvel, his storytelling gripping, harrowing, and beautiful.”—Michele Morano, author of Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain


— Michele Morano

“With earnest, unflinching prose and piercing detail, Hillegonds chronicles a turbulent past defined by a toxic mixture of rage, recklessness, and addiction. His willingness to peel back the layers of vulnerability and shame to reveal the man he once was is a stirring testament to the man he is now.”—Melanie Brooks, author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma 

— Melanie Brooks

The Distance Between is a bracingly honest account of a boy’s search for manhood through the wilds of addiction, violence, and early fatherhood. This story gutted me. Hillegonds’s debut announces that he’s a writer to watch.”—Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss

— Hope Edelman

Product Details
ISBN: 9781496216687
ISBN-10: 1496216687
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Publication Date: October 1st, 2019
Pages: 280
Series: American Lives