Hills, L. Rust 1924-2008 (Lawrence Rust Hills)

views updated

Hills, L. Rust 1924-2008 (Lawrence Rust Hills)


See index for CA sketch: Born November 9, 1924, in Brooklyn, NY; died of cardiac arrest, August 12, 2008, in Belfast, ME. Editor, educator, essayist, and author. Hills began his editorial career at Esquire in 1956. As fiction editor, he was notoriously exacting and fussy about separating fashionable trends in fiction from lasting works of literature. Under his editorial direction Esquire regained its original reputation as a publisher of seri- ous literary fiction, a reputation that had eroded over the years as adventure stories and other commercially popular fiction edged out the more complex, cerebral work that graced its pages during the 1930s. Hills published established, sometimes controversial authors and sought out new writers with promising careers ahead of them. He was described as an editor with the highest possible standards, one who could attract the literary giants of his day and mollify the most sensitive of them, even while guiding their muse with the aid of his blue-penciled notes. Hills was reportedly adept at excerpting full-length novels in such a way that the segments stood perfectly well on their own. He also serialized full-length manuscripts by the likes of Arthur Miller and Norman Mailer. Hills published a controversial "literary issue" in 1963 that included author interviews, journalistic essays about writers, and an opinionated diagram of the editor's "pick of the lists" of publishers, agents, critics, and other items that prompted a storm of outrage. He left the magazine not long after that. Hills went on to edit fiction for the Saturday Evening Post and other magazines, and thereafter pursued a freelance career, but he had apparently left his heart at Esquire. He returned to the magazine briefly in 1969, then permanently from 1977 until the end of the century. Hills had a background in education. He had taught classes in literature and creative writing at several institutions, including Columbia University and New York University. He did not attempt fiction himself, but Hills wrote the essays in the well-received collections How to Do Things Right: The Revelations of a Fussy Man (1972), How to Retire at Forty-one; or, Dropping Out of the Rat Race without Going down the Drain (1973), and How to Be Good; or, the Somewhat Tricky Business of Attaining Moral Virtue in a Society That's Not Just Corrupt but Corrupting, without Being Completely Out of It (1976). He also edited collections of fiction such as How We Live: Contemporary Life in Contemporary American Fiction (1968) and Lust, Violence, Sin, Magic: Sixty Years of Esquire Fiction (1993).



Chicago Tribune, August 17, 2008, sec. 4, p. 6.

Los Angeles Times, August 16, 2008, p. B6.

New York Times, August 15, 2008, p. C12; August 23, 2008, p. A4.

Washington Post, August 17, 2008, p. C7.

About this article

Hills, L. Rust 1924-2008 (Lawrence Rust Hills)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article