Hell

( 39 )

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 ...

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Hell: A Novel

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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.

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802145093
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/12/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 572,119
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 39 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Hilarious. I laughed out loud.

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2011

    funny

    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...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2011

    Entertaining and a fresh, interesting outlook

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2010

    A Hellish Read

    Certainly the author should get some points for his original novel with an interesting take on what hell might be like. Hell, as we quickly learn, is specifically tailored to the individual and what he or she would consider the worst possible experience, relived over and over and OVER again. Even reading the book was a bit hellish, with no chapter breaks and a constant, relentless thrust at the reader of each and every person's personal nightmare. It seems no one has avoided ending up in Hell, thus it is horribly overcrowded and there is no escape from constant suffering. There were some amusing views of famous politicians, entertainers, and others as to what their individual hells are like, but all in all, I felt compelled to just wanting this story to END.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2015

    Hell. Hell,hell. Hell,hell,hell,hell

    Im going to go to HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    Isaiah/Blazin

    Ok.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    Fatal attactions : a were-pire romance novel : by isiah and dharma

    Ariana sat at her desk, contemplating on wht she should do as to her curious relationship, forbidden, yet oh so mystyfing , she picke up her phone, small and beaten and worn, and quickly texted mattaeo, her lover, it was not easy telling your boyfrd that your parents don't know your dating a werewolf .. because almost all of their friends knew about their special bond, it was almost 2 years since the sparks had flewn for the first time between the two, and as if almost by magick, Arianas phone rang , "hello?" She aswered as if her voice could not manage anything more than a low whisper, "hola, caparisita roja" mattaeo sid his voic huskily into the phone , "hola,que quiren, amor?"she replied with a sigh, "i just wanted to ask you over for dinner" he replied , "perfect" she said , an they both hung up

    (isiah will write th next part)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    A book trully aboit A book about hell

    It was a great book and recommend it if your into twisted fantasy storys

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  • Posted April 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting concept...sometimes disturbing.

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 26, 2011

    loving it, but took some getting used to

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2011

    Was a GREAT READ!

    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!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 5, 2011

    APTLY TITLED!

    Hell by Robert Olen Butler
    PLEASE, do not waste your precious reading time to read this piece of trash! Book aptly named,as I felt like I was trapped in Hell the whole time I was reading this worthless piece of garbage. I threw the book down several times but was determined to give it every opportunity to redeem its self. I found nothing of value in this book and I am upset that I wasted my book club bonus points to purchase this piece of wasted ink and paper. I bought this book, as the ad stated it was supposedly a satire about a TV reporter in Hell and those he interviewed. Names of famous persons were thrown about but no actual interviews. There is vulgarity and no humor that I could find. I was most disappointed to see the positive reviews from critics whose opinion I had valued up until now. If, as the critics say, this is his best work so far, I can assure you I will not bother to read anything else by him. My only fear in doing this review is that it will tempt you to waste your money and time on this book just to see if I am being too harsh. I hope you will take my advise and go on to better books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reporting from Hell

    This is the first book I've read by Robert Olen Butler. He is highly raved about and seems to be generally liked by the critics and the public, which gives some credence to his skills as a writer. Hell is fun and sometimes funny, and it is an interesting book. The plot moves fine, a reporter from Earth has ended up in Hell and he must navigate through it and its personalities in order to find his way to Heaven, but I found it lacking on the intellectual end. It is a good book to keep on the nightstand and read before sleep, but I would not recommend it for book clubs or to anyone looking for a book with a "statement."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    So this is Hell?!

    I'm 50 years old now and at times there are books having plots that completely befuddle me. In terms of trying to follow the plot, it reminds me of my Sophomore year in H.S. trying to understand the "Martian Chronicles." Many interesting twists, turns and "celebrity guest" in Hell to keep it at least interesting. The idea of having a "reporter" from the mortal realm acting in the same capacity in Hell is, I'll admit an interesting vehicle for the story.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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