Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck

As a faithful Mormon, Soren Johansson has always believed he’ll be reunited with his loved ones in an eternal hereafter. Then, he dies. Soren wakes to find himself cast by a God he has never heard of into a Hell whose dimensions he can barely grasp: a vast library he can only escape from by finding the book that contains the story of his life.

In this haunting existential novella, author, philosopher, and ecologist Steven L. Peck explores a subversive vision of eternity, taking the reader on a journey through the afterlife of a world where everything everyone believed in turns out to be wrong.

This is a book that definitely stays with you after you finish reading it. I closed it last night and this morning it was still haunting me, poking me in the side for me to think about it just a bit more.

It’s not an easy one to classify. It’s fiction, sure, but there’s a bit of satire, a bit of philosophy, a bit of horror, a bit of everything, really. The writing is sparse and careful, setting the mood as well as the descriptions do. For me, it was a pretty claustrophobic read. Since the book takes place only in this version of hell that the author has created for us, with unending stacks of books and almost infinite corridors and floors, there is an oppressive atmosphere to the story. The reader begins to feel trapped. Quite scary and therefore, effectively done.

The book will provoke you to ask yourself questions about life, about theology and what it means to believe in our heavens and hells, so this is not a light read, although it is a short novel. I can recommend this easily, since I enjoyed it very much. Once you start it, it’s a tough one to put down.


Lianne said...

So, it's hell, but you're surrounded by books? Does not compute... :)

Steve Peck said...

Thank you so much for reviewing my book! This was one of most insightful I read. I appreciate a reviewer who can capture the spirit of the book so well. Steve