Judgment Day & Other White Lies
ISBN: 978-1-948692-76-2 paperback
ISBN: 978-1-948692-77-9 ebook
Cover by Crowcrumbs, a designer, illustrator, and artist based in Houston, Texas. She studied design and studio arts at the University of Houston.
Judgment Day & Other White Lies is a short fiction collection that deconstructs whiteness by retelling versions of Greek, Roman, and Christian myths, concepts, and characters through a contemporary lens that reads whiteness into history as a force of destruction for white characters (in addition to those they oppress). From an alternative biblical Genesis about apes having orgies while on magic mushrooms to create western civilization (as told by the kinds of philosophers who have to be stoned themselves), to a retelling of the Oresteia where the white heavy metal musician Orestes is helping his aging mother Dawn commit suicide, to a white graffiti writer, magician, and cultural mis-appropriator named Per-C who fundamentally alters reality by painting fantastical ‘Dusa portraits all over the city of Houston, to the eponymous story Judgment Day that primarily concerns the mind-altering-collapsing effects of a hallucinogenic on a Christlike white man who has two sets of memories stuck in his head, these stories show the tragicomic consequences of what happens when white people identify with the white lie of an identity that lives a fiction to maintain power.
“The stories in Judgment Day & Other White Lies are quintessentially Mike Hilbig, his deft artistic imagination at work (and play). What we see in this collection is a Cubist unfolding of narrative: the human impulse toward story—the mythic in its many forms—whether creation myth, or Greek classics, or historical accounts, or religious doctrines, or literary texts, or the academic discourse of scholars (such as the fictional Dr. Angela Ames we find here). Each such narrative is informed by the sardonic wit of a superbly honed surrealistic imagination. The stories themselves engage in a kind of Romantic revolution. But Hilbig’s is a post-Romantic strategy designed both to turn the natural into the supernatural and the supernatural into the natural, and to deconstruct, destabilize that Romantic experiment—a postmodern impulse I believe Coleridge himself would find deeply compelling. Hilbig knows full well the irony of his situation as author: Narrative, language itself, codifies personal and social experience (and historical memory), yet language is the writer’s artistic medium, the one he must rely on, grapple with, in the making of a socially relevant literature. Like Orestes in ‘Fury, or a Matricide in Sound,’ a writer too must find his way into the pulse of the reader’s consciousness, ‘he knew [the crowd] could feel it somehow, the emotional arc like…a call to action. A freedom to act housed inside his calloused fingertips.’ This is the author’s ars poetica. These are stories underpinned by wisdom and humor, which are simultaneously a powerful cultural critique—the call for a reckoning.”—Robin Davidson, author of Luminous Other and Poet Laureate of Houston, TX from 2015-2017.
“A thoroughly enjoyable work by Mike Hilbig on the interconnectedness of race, gender, religion, and spirituality…and Houston! A writing style that’s at once Milan Kundera like, and original, with a voice that speaks for and to our tumultuous times.”—Amit Verma, author of A Quiver in the Purlieu