Reviews for Commandant of Lubizec
In The Commandant of Lubizec, Patrick Hicks imagines the unimaginable and thus gives us a glimpse into the terrible complexity of the human heart. This is a fascinating and important book.
—Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
This is a vividly detailed, terrifying, convincing, and completely spellbinding story rooted in those murderous events we now call the Holocaust. It is also the story of a loving, good-humored family man who each morning goes off to oversee mass homicide–a dramatic example of what Hannah Arendt once referred to as ‘the banality of evil.’ Patrick Hicks has accomplished a very difficult literary task. He has given a believable and fresh and original face to barbarism. What a fine book this is.
—Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
The fictional presentation here measures up to any factual account of the Holocaust this reviewer has ever read. Highly recommended, especially for general readers who wish to know more about this unspeakable chapter of human history. Even specialists will be taken in by its human-interest dimension.
A heart-rending novel about a Nazi death camp that didn’t exist—but could have. Hicks tells the story of the fictional Lubizec as if it were a historical account, complete with footnotes and quotes from future fictional documentaries, to devastating effect. [. . .] Hicks’ prose is clear and unflinching, and while, as a result, there are many difficult-to-read scenes, this is as it should be. [. . .] Thought-provoking and gut-wrenchingly powerful.
Out of the cooling ashes of Holocaust history, Patrick Hicks manages to break our hearts with a story we thought we already knew. The Commandant of Lubizec is profound, provocative, and profane in all the best ways. While reading The Commandant of Lubizec, one question kept running through my mind: ‘Was it really this bad?’ Through his all-too-real fiction, Patrick Hicks convinces me that, sadly, the answer is ‘Yes.’ The Commandant of Lubizec is important and unforgettable.
—David Abrams, author of Fobbit
In a powerful blend of research and imagination, Patrick Hicks ushers us through the history of a prototypical death camp during the Holocaust. This novel mourns the millions who were silenced, while reminding us how ordinary and matter-of-fact the face of evil can be. The Commandant of Lubizec is a painfully necessary book.
—Clint McCown, winner of the American Fiction Prize
The Commandant of Lubizec melds the historian’s factual precision with a storyteller’s compassion and love for humanity. This is fiction at its highest register — creating inroads into the past so that we might hear those murdered in the extermination camps of the Holocaust, so that we might better recognize the world we have inherited. Profound and trenchant, The Commandant of Lubizec is a brave and unflinching book. It is a stunning literary debut. I urge you to read it before it’s made into a film.
—Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise
In The Commandant of Lubizec, Patrick Hicks may have invented a brand new genre, the fictional documentary. This novel seems so convincingly based in evidence that any reader unsure of the names of the Nazi death camps is likely to read it as non-fiction—which is part of Hicks’ deep intent. He reveals to us how quickly we lose track of history and how troubling that loss is. In writing a novel about those who survived a fictional death camp, he mysteriously makes us feel and understand the millions of deaths in the real ones. Through his playful art, he makes us feel and understand the horror of the Holocaust in ways most non-fiction simply cannot. It’s a remarkable and elegant artistic achievement. This is a novel I deeply admire.
—Kent Meyers, author of The Work of Wolves
Enigmatic, powerful, moving. . . memorable and well worth reading.
—The American Israelite
Reviews for The Collector of Names
The stories in Patrick Hicks’ The Collector of Names haunt me the way that Joyce’s great story “The Dead” haunts me. And for the same reason: the precision of the evocation of our mortality, set against the different music of our lives. The speed he manages, like a blaze of light and intrigue, to imbed you in these stories is nothing short of breath-taking, and there is just enough of a well-earned nod to magical realism of the highest order to lift these so-called ordinary lives into the light of their varying ideas of death, and thus understanding. Mr. Hicks is a gifted story-teller and an accomplished craftsman who has a deep appreciation for, and a wide understanding of the great stories that have come before him, and at the same time carving out his own territory in the landscape of our recent American fiction.
—Bruce Weigl, author of Song of Napalm and The Abundance of Nothing, finalist, Pulitzer Prize
The immediacy and urgency of the depiction of crisis moments make these stories magnetic. . . More than simply cataloging or describing these confrontations with death or loss, this collection offers readers hope about how they might face character-defining moments and come out undaunted. Hicks does so without pulling any punches to soften readers’ discomfort. . . What is not immediately obvious about this collection is that all of the stories share a common strand: confronting loss in its many guises. This commonality creates a reverberating pleasure while reading. Each story builds on and replays similar notes, like different instruments playing together in an orchestra. . . compelling and inspiring.
—Colorado Review (read the entire review HERE)
From a horrific airplane crash to a database cataloguing the bright and human store of a life, the stories in Patrick Hicks’s The Collector of Names shimmer with a deep and abiding reverence for all who fix their gaze on that most elemental of walls: death. And despite moments of great pain, suffering, and loss, there is a remarkable sweetness to this collection, a deeply hewn love for the people who live within these pages, within the world of this book, a world that serves as an extension of our own. As I finished reading The Collector of Names, I realized—as one of the characters does early on in the collection—that “the fiber of my heart has been rebuilt.” A mature hand is in the wheelhouse of these extraordinary stories.
—Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet and My Life as a Foreign Country
In the title story of this collection, a young boy refuses to erase the bullies from a record of people he has met in his life. In Patrick Hicks’ vision, death is the ultimate bully. These extraordinary stories look violence and pain in the eye, wonder how they might be erased—and then leave them, to deftly reveal, as if by magic, the restorative power of human love.
—Kent Meyers, author of The Work of Wolves and Twisted Tree
Hicks’s own skill as a writer ensures that no one who appears in his stories is ever reduced. Full of vitality and doubts, capable as much of making mistakes as making vital meaning, his characters grapple with the hardest question of our lives. And they do so in moments that will stick with the reader long after. Throughout this wonderful collection, then, if Hicks guides us to discover in these shared moments, not consumption and loss, but inspiration and generosity, he does so with a magic to more than match even death’s own.
—Briar Cliff Review
Patrick Hicks has written a wonderful collection of stories that linger in the mind. Though these magical fables about loss and grief include visitations from the dead, a bombardier who restores life rather than destroys it, a flirtation with necrophilia, and a horrific airline disaster, among other extraordinary or tragic events, what’s most amazing is that Hicks has transformed such disquieting situations into a haunting book about the ordinary terrors of mortality, lives “dictated by random circumstances, by dumb stupid luck, and by strange collisions.” It’s powerful work that deserves wide attention and many accolades.
—Alan Davis, author of So Bravely Vegetative and Rumors from the Lost World
Though there is much to admire in Patrick Hicks’s debut story collection, The Collector of Names, what I find most affecting is his abiding faith in human perseverance, in simple human acts that matter. In story after story Hicks insists that despite bad luck, calamity, and the betrayals of history, we might yet find ways to love and console one another. In “57 Gatwick” a small-town coroner connects the many disparate families shattered by a horrific act; in effect, the coroner, who has a hard time even talking with his teenage daughter, becomes an artist of grief and healing. ‘But they all touched him as if they needed to look into his clear eyes,’ Hicks writes, ‘and believe that everything, in time, would be okay.’ Leaving this collection, I, too, believe.
—Joe Wilkins, winner of the 2014 GLCA New Writers Award for The Mountain and the Fathers
Hicks’ style and imagination are engrossing.
Reviews for Adoptable
Adoptable is a tender, hopeful book of a father’s observational grace. A heartwarming gift from the poet to his young son, this book bursts with love while knowing that “at the heart of very
adoption…is a breaking apart.” From South Korea to South Dakota, these touching poems offer an accurate window into the experience of fatherhood and adoption. The son’s bright light shines on each and every page, and just as Hicks hopes his son will one day find ‘the galaxy widening before him,’ readers of this book will discover the same: a galaxy in the poet’s love for his son. These poems, this poet, this son—treasures that will expand your heart.
—Lee Herrick, author of Gardening Secrets of the Dead
Adoptable is a powerful and moving book of poems by Patrick Hicks that focuses on the adoption of a Korean child and the way the narrator and his wife become as connected to this child as any birth parent possibly could be. These poems are lyrical praise songs to the family relationship that emerges and to the power of love. The poems are perfectly crafted and the endings simply lift off the page. Hicks is an amazing and exquisite poet.
—Maria Mazziotti Gillan, American Book Award winner
At the heart of every adoption is a ripping, a knifepoint, a breaking apart, / like cracking open an oyster” writes Patrick Hicks in his stunningly moving new collection, Adoptable. These poems ride that knifepoint edge into the vulnerable center of the poet’s experience adopting his Korean-born son, Sean Min-gyu, with raw honesty and humble compassion. Adoptable explores the complexities of adoptive diaspora in deft language of fierce silver clarity, wit, and unabashed tenderness—a father’s poems written in an adopted tongue to hold and encircle his beautiful boy with the twice-cut umbilical cord, and to borders, across oceans, across time.
—Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of Dandarians
With beautifully-written free verse poems, observational narratives, illuminating moments and quiet reflections, author Patrick Hicks explores adoption, cross-cultures, birth mother and life mothers, and a son’s identity. He articulates a man’s desire, parental anxieties, and a father’s amazement at his son.
Reviews for This London
This London brings us the living and the dead, the lutefisk and the vindaloo, Joseph Merrick and the veterans of the Somme. It gives us the Middle Kingdom and South Dakota and the Imperial War Museum. Roman centurions and Halal delicatessens. The Luftwaffe and Saint Paul’s Cathedral. This London is a generous, nuanced collection which invites the reader to reconsider the known and the familiar, to walk the streets of a great city and to contemplate what it means to be alive-not beyond the dead, but among them.
—Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise
This London is an enjoyable book of poetry in its own right, as much for its ambitious engagements with millennia of London history as for the inviting openness of its speakers […] I would most highly recommend it for those about to visit London, or those recently returned. It will be a far more engaging volume than your average guide book.”
—Brett Foster (read the entire review HERE)
The strength of this collection, the bones around which these poems amass, is a sense of humanity: a reminder that we are all connected in this world despite the different origins of our ancestors and the opposite directions in which they may have traveled.
—Terrian.org (read the entire review HERE)
A book of poems about London by any non-Londoner has to be a interest. But a book of poems about London by a ‘foreigner’ has to be of especial interest […] with his clear-eyed perception and the ability to focus on the apposite and illuminating details [Hicks] has something of Chaucer’s and Defoe’s gift in his writing.
—William Oxley, Acumen (read the entire review HERE)
Though there is much to admire in Patrick Hicks’ work, what I find perhaps most powerful is his deep faith in human connection. In poem after poem and story after story Hicks insists that despite bad luck and cringe-worthy history and our own personal shames and failures, we can do better as human beings, we might even find a way to love and serve one another. In his prize-winning story “57 Gatwick” a small-town coroner connects the many disparate families shattered by a horrific event; in effect, the coroner, who has a hard time even talking with his daughter, becomes an artist of healing and grief. In his poem, “Lighting the Christmas Tree, Trafalgar Square,” Hicks claims “From light we began, and to light we will return.” And I believe him.
—Joe Wilkins, author of Killing the Murnion Dog and The Mountain and the Fathers
Patrick Hicks’s story “Soldiers in the Dark” captivated me with its opening line and never let me go. With its fable-like tone, this powerful story offers hope for redemption through the eyes of Milo Hewitt. As Milo sorts through his intuitions of revenge and forgiveness, his understanding of what it really means to see helps readers do the same.
The lively prose in Patrick Hicks’ “Living with the Dead” carries the reader through the story of a young man whose family runs a funeral home. Though surrounded by death (particularly the passing of a young woman from his school), Brian has learned that “no one teaches you how to enjoy life better than the dead.” His pursuit of romance in the story seems somehow sweeter when filtered through the perspective of a teenager who understands how very special it is to make a connection with someone who wants to connect with you.
Patrick Hicks writes poems of personal history, social history, world history. It is, I think, his way of redrawing the map of our human hearts.
—Richard Jones, author of Country of Air, A Perfect Time, and The Blessing
These finely wrought lyrics are focused on the family-in Ireland, Canada, the United States, and in-transit-to reveal origins, maps, anxieties, and coincidences. Hicks recovers from time desires, loves, and the moist mother tongues of the dispersed. Hicks searches through literary history for those he seeks to follow–W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Brian Moore in particular. Traveling Through History is a singularly impressive first collection–allusive, engaging, exciting.
—Eamonn Wall, author of The Crosses and Refuge at DeSoto Bend
The poems of Patrick Hicks brim with the confluence of Irish, American, and personal history.
—Daniel Tobin, author of Second Things and The Narrows
These poems come out of real, actual, lived experiences, a rare thing these days. Hicks seems to have absorbed the work of some of the best poets in that same vein in the past half century: Theodore Roethke, Robinson Jeffers, James Dickey, Seamus Heaney, to name a few. What I find remarkable about Hicks’ poems in this collection is that they can simultaneously accommodate not only personal but national, international, and even evolutionary phenomena. […] Hicks is the kind of poet I go for: straight-forward, clear, tough-minded, knowledgeable, accessible, memorable. He has experienced much in his young life; he has taken the time to inform himself on the facts of history and science; and he writes with insight, power, and passion.
—David Allan Evans, poet laureate of South Dakota
Patrick Hicks takes us to many places, among them Barcelona, Berlin, and Belfast, as he reflects upon the mystery of existence, of what it means to be alive where the “poisonous ghosts of history” challenge and haunt us. I admire the variety of subjects that the poems reflect-regret and wonder, concern and disdain, compassion and hope. The voice in these poems is honest and recognizable. It wants what most of us want-to find meaningful identification with the past no less than the present. Carrying history on his back like a knapsack, and aware of the vagaries of chance, Hicks looks to what, for him, finally matters: one person loving another.
—William Kloefkorn, poet laureate of Nebraska
Like the delicate draglines connecting spiderlings to their nest, Patrick Hicks connects us all to his thoughts. We have no control over the directions he leads us, but his words-these fragile draglines-make sense of past and present chaos. Tenderly, inexorably, he reveals the world through his eyes and words […] I like the delicate touch evident in Hicks’ poems. Regardless of topic, Hicks demonstrates the innate compassion present in the human spirit. Draglines addresses human concerns and sorrows, but leaves the reader oddly comforted in the process.
—Midwest Book Review
Patrick Hicks’ poems are largely about the “Janus face of history,” as he calls it. We are continually reminded that time can travel both backwards and forwards along the routes of memory and anticipation. Hicks’ steady, imaginative gaze brings the past, both personal and historical, to life, transformed from frozen fact to something warm, human, and moving. We range from Belfast to Berlin, from earliest history to the present moment in which a father draws for his son maps which are, like time itself, “fluid and restless.” In vivid, lucent imagery and flawlessly elegant sentences, Hicks reminds us that even the most personal act – a kiss, for instance – takes place on the larger field of history.
—Jeanne Emmons, author of Rootbound and The Glove of the World
One of the most frequently repeated phrases in Patrick Hicks’ Draglines is “I imagine.” Hicks’ resists “the gravity/ of poetic journalism” and instead opts to “dream spirits into words”. His subjects range widely: Bombs over World War II Germany, the plane dropping the Little Boy bomb, the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, a sound engineer at EMI the day the Beatles recorded the first album, the world of the Lakota before the advent of the White Man, and a number of others. Hicks’ poems offer meditative intensity, amplified with startlingly similes, assonance, and alliteration. These poems are vital seeds, ready to sprout and spring up in readers’ imaginations.
—Clif Mason, author of From the Dead Before