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Timothy J. Hillegonds

Connection to Illinois: Hillegonds lives in Chicago and serves as contributing editor for Slag Glass City, a digital journal of the urban essay arts.

Biography: Timothy J. Hillegonds has published work in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Rumpus, Brevity, and other publications. Hillegonds earned a Master of Arts in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University in Chicago and has been named by the Guild Literary Complex as one of their thirty 'Writers to Watch.'


Primary Literary Genre(s): Non-Fiction; Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers

on WorldCat:

Selected Titles

The Distance Between: A Memoir
ISBN: 1496216687 OCLC: 1111087784

University of Nebraska Press 2019

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.

Vodka-Flavored Tears
ISBN: 1595981160 OCLC: 778781114

MavenMark Books 2012

Vodka-Flavored Tears is a memoir told through twenty-six stories about growing up on the South Side of Chicago and trying to navigate through the stormy waters of childhood, adolescence, and the author's early twenties. It s a book about taking chances and making mistakes, and speaks to the part of humanity that identifies with the pain that we each go through as we sift through ourselves in search of a place in this world. The essays were written in order to cope with the residual effects of having to get sober and live life without the crutch that Hillegonds had leaned on for so long. He d been running from the past for years a volatile period that left him with a criminal record, a broken heart, and a beautiful baby girl. The stories remind us that life is short, childhood is fleeting, and we need to ride this thing until the wheels fall off. Not everyone gets expelled from high school for pranks, or ends up in jail for felonies, or lands in rehab for vodka and cocaine. Most of us were never barred from Canada, kicked out of Colorado, or homeless, desperate, and enraged. But we all know what it s like to hurt and love and lose, and do the best we can to live our lives with some semblance of dignity. We all know what it s like to fall down, pick ourselves up, and continue putting one foot in front of the other. Vodka-Flavored Tears testifies that the road less traveled can indeed be daunting, but can also prove far more fulfilling than the beaten path.