Hell

Hell

3.7 40
by Robert Olen Butler
     
 

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Hatcher McCord is an evening news presenter who has found himself in Hell and is struggling to explain his bad fortune. He’s not the only one to suffer this fate—in fact, he’s surrounded by an outrageous cast of characters, including Humphrey Bogart, William Shakespeare, and almost all of the popes and most of the U.S. presidents. The question may

Overview

Hatcher McCord is an evening news presenter who has found himself in Hell and is struggling to explain his bad fortune. He’s not the only one to suffer this fate—in fact, he’s surrounded by an outrageous cast of characters, including Humphrey Bogart, William Shakespeare, and almost all of the popes and most of the U.S. presidents. The question may be not who is in Hell but who isn’t. McCord is living with Anne Boleyn in the afterlife but their happiness is, of course, constantly derailed by her obsession with Henry VIII (and the removal of her head at rather inopportune moments). One day McCord meets Dante’s Beatrice, who believes there is a way out of Hell, and the next morning, during an exclusive on-camera interview with Satan, McCord realizes that Satan’s omniscience, which he has always credited for the perfection of Hell’s torments, may be a mirage—and Butler is off on a madcap romp about good, evil, free will, and the possibility of escape. Butler’s depiction of Hell is original, intelligent, and fiercely comic, a book Dante might have celebrated.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Prolific Pulitzer–winner Butler features a colorful cast of underworld dwellers in his latest novel, and, as in Severance and Intercourse, captures stream-of-consciousness in delicious, unleashed rhythm. On the downside, Butler pushes his love for thematic concept to new levels of explicit puppetry (read: gimmick). Hatcher McCord, an anchorman on the Evening News from Hell, reports on hellishly banal traumas while real-life persons suffer hilarious punishment: Adolf Hitler is repeatedly executed, only to be reassembled gruesomely, his face like a stitched football. All are ruled by a smarmy, Armani-clad Satan who smells noxiously of Old Spice aftershave, is only reachable by voice mail and blames everything on his “father issues.” But when McCord discovers that Satan can't read his mind, McCord becomes a vehicle for free will. Newly empowered, he attempts sexual and emotional relations with the love of his afterlife, a headless Anne Boleyn who gives great (if terrifying) oral sex. Butler's lust for the tabloid romp and his stream of the never-ending punch line both irritates and illuminates. The reader's taste will have to be the final arbiters of worth. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Set in the not-too-distant future, this short novel finds protagonist Hatcher McCord in Hell—which tends to resemble Earth, with the addition of midday sulfur storms. A network news anchor in life, he's in the same role in the afterlife, hosting the Evening News from Hell. He's involved with Anne Boleyn, who still longs for the man who done her wrong, and encounters a variety of famous personages, from Virgil and Humphrey Bogart to various U.S. presidents (Richard Nixon is the Devil's chauffeur). Along the way, he hears that a new harrowing of Hell may be imminent and sets about trying to be included by making amends with those he wronged in life (primarily his three ex-wives). In the end, however, Hatcher learns that you can quite literally "make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." VERDICT One can imagine that Pulitzer Prize winner Butler (A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain) had a grand time writing this endlessly witty and inventive novel. Readers will find it wildly comic and thought-provoking. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09.]—Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, North Andover, MA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802145093
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
10/12/2010
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
263,895
Product dimensions:
7.44(w) x 11.30(h) x 0.61(d)

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Hell 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
DrVig More than 1 year ago
This is Hell. There are no chapter breaks. Should there be in Hell? It makes the reading a little strange at first, but after I flipped through looking for them, I had the Ah Ha moment, it's Hell, for god sakes! This is the most original book I have read in ages, and I read a lot. Most characters are all familiar to readers 20yo and up, and you wouldn't expect to find them in Hell, although some were annoying on Earth. I couldn't wait to see who showed up next and with what affliction. Sure, sometimes there are gross things, but not as bad as what you've find in a crime novel or a detective story. You know how one of those is going to end, the protagonist solves the crime and gets the saves the love interest. This, maybe not. The characters' inner dialogue can be tedious, but if you wrote longhand the stream of consciousness we all have, well, maybe that is Hell. Butler changes the font for that, which alerts you to take a deep inner breath, and the monologue begins. And now mine ends.
TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
the person with the angry review obviously has the sense of humor of Osama Bin Laden.. This book is immensely funny and, yes, it is crude at times; but c'mon, it's set in Hell...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book provides no answers, just a wealth of new angles on how to view the life we lead. That's more valuable, in my opinion. History fans will get a kick out of many of the characters in the book.
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It was a great book and recommend it if your into twisted fantasy storys
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Think_Think More than 1 year ago
I chose 3 stars for this book because, overall, it was entertaining, held my interest and made me think about stuff way more than I thought it would. On the bad side, there were some things in the book I could have done without. Let's just say that the many tortures of hell are disturbing to the mind. But, it's HELL! The ending kind of threw me, but I came up to my own conclusion on that one, lol. I don't want to spoil it, so let me just say I thought it was another level. You will understand that IF you make it through this madness.
bestmomma More than 1 year ago
great book, weird but great. Ok to challenge the norm, here is 180 pages of it. Disregard that bad review. Story is unsettling, but that is the point! Love the visual of Celine Dion, very funny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down and I laughed on just about every page! There is a unique cadence to how the story is laid out, but once I found it and was keeping pace, I couldn't stop reading! AWESOME!
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