In the evolving realms of contemporary literature, the name Kyle Dillon Hertz stands out. His work takes risks, stays honest, and unravels the ugly and the pretty of the human experience. A distinguished alumnus of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, Hertz brings a unique perspective to his craft, seamlessly intertwining personal reflections with a profound commitment to storytelling.

Our conversation with Hertz begins with the genesis of “The Lookback Window” during his tenure at NYU. A pivotal moment arose with the passing of the Child Victims Act in New York, coinciding with his scholarly pursuits at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. This legislative landmark provided the narrative architecture Hertz sought, propelling him into an exploration of the lives of gay men seeking justice after childhood sexual abuse.

Delving into the layers of his protagonist, Dylan, Hertz unravels the symbolism behind the tattoos that adorn him. These inked narratives serve as both artistic expressions and a protective armor, unfolding a mystery that shapes the very essence of the novel’s initial act.

The lauded almost psychedelic style of the novel finds its roots in Hertz’s meticulous writing process. Dylan’s journey with Complex PTSD naturally dictates the sentence-level evolution of the narrative. Hertz draws inspiration from literary luminaries such as Denis Johnson, Jean Rhys, and Joy Williams, subtly infusing their influence into the tapestry of his storytelling.

Hertz’s exploration of trauma in “The Lookback Window” transcends the realms of fiction. Grounded in personal experiences at the Crime Victims Treatment Center, his understanding of childhood sexual abuse and C-PTSD mirrors the arduous journey undertaken by the novel’s protagonist, Dylan.

The novel departs from conventional narratives by focusing on vengeance rather than a straightforward pursuit of justice. As a prominent figure in the gay literary world, Hertz invites readers to grapple with the complexities of justice for someone who has suffered as a child—a journey that is complex, frustrating, and beguiling.

In homage to literary influences like Denis Johnson, Hertz pays tribute without imitation. The novel, adorned with subtle allusions to Johnson’s work, stands as a unique contribution to the canon of queer literary justice novels.

“The Lookback Window” becomes a portal into the extraordinary worlds of New York, Brooklyn, and San Diego, portraying the lives of gay men with authenticity. Hertz, an influential figure in the gay literary scene, seeks not to impose a unilateral message but invites readers to encounter and engage with these diverse landscapes.

Navigating Dylan’s journey into a metaphorical hell marked by bar fights and drug binges presented challenges for Hertz. The confrontational nature of Dylan’s character becomes a source of tension, prompting readers to ponder the outcome of this perilous journey.

A narrative device that transcends its literary function, “The Lookback Window” becomes a symbol for confronting the past. Hertz delves into its symbolism, unraveling its role in shaping the novel’s overall structure and providing a lens through which Dylan’s life is irrevocably upended.

Hertz reflects on language as both a challenge and a healer, especially when dealing with violent trauma. Words, though imperfect, become a vital element in Dylan’s journey to heal from the unspeakable, offering readers a profound exploration of the intricacies of healing.

“The Lookback Window” becomes a delicate dance between the forces of a thriller and the fury of an indictment, all while weaving a narrative of queer healing. Hertz discusses the challenges of maintaining this delicate balance, creating a narrative structure that encapsulates tension and relief.

In contemplating the sensitive subject matter, Hertz expresses a desire for the novel to resonate with readers who may have experienced trauma akin to the protagonist. The novel becomes a vessel for those who have been unheard, dismissed, ignored, offering a space for both thrill and healing. Joy, grief and justice.

While spanning a decade in Dylan’s life, the core of the novel unfolds over three intense months. Hertz reflects on the significance of time in the context of trauma and healing, portraying Dylan’s urgency to accomplish his goals within a limited timeframe.

In the hands of Kyle Dillon Hertz, literature becomes a mirror reflecting the multifaceted nature of the human experience. As a distinguished figure in the gay men’s literary world and an alumnus of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, Kyle’s literary lineage resonates with the transformative power of creative education, echoing through the pages of “The Lookback Window” and beyond.


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