web site hit counter A Short Stay in Hell - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

A Short Stay in Hell

Availability: Ready to download

An ordinary family man, geologist, and Mormon, Soren Johansson has always believed he’ll be reunited with his loved ones after death 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 hi An ordinary family man, geologist, and Mormon, Soren Johansson has always believed he’ll be reunited with his loved ones after death 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.


Compare

An ordinary family man, geologist, and Mormon, Soren Johansson has always believed he’ll be reunited with his loved ones after death 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 hi An ordinary family man, geologist, and Mormon, Soren Johansson has always believed he’ll be reunited with his loved ones after death 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.

30 review for A Short Stay in Hell

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    i wasn't sure i was going to like this one. the concept is ripped from a borges story about a library containing an infinite number of books; every permutation of every possible arrangement of letters; shelves and shelves of endless volumes, many of which are pure gibberish. and in this book, this is one of many possible hells. it seems zoroastrianism was the one true religion. oops. sorry all you suckers and mormons and buddhists - you are all going to hell. but hell is not forever, all you need i wasn't sure i was going to like this one. the concept is ripped from a borges story about a library containing an infinite number of books; every permutation of every possible arrangement of letters; shelves and shelves of endless volumes, many of which are pure gibberish. and in this book, this is one of many possible hells. it seems zoroastrianism was the one true religion. oops. sorry all you suckers and mormons and buddhists - you are all going to hell. but hell is not forever, all you need to do is locate the story of your own life in this library, and you are allowed to leave. that's all. but in the library of babel, that could be more difficult than you might think. and what is your "true" biography? There's a second by second account of our lives, probably in multiple volumes, a minute by minute account, an hour by hour, a day by day. There's one that covers the events of our lives as viewed by our mothers, one by our fathers, one by our neighbors, one by our dogs. There must be thousands of our biographies here. Which one do they want, I wonder? good luck finding even one of those. good luck finding a book in which you recognize a paragraph, a phrase, a word.... most of the books will just look like this: sdkfhsdihfdofgnlkdfgnodhgfgn and so on and so on. borges kind of leaves me cold. i find his stories to be interesting cerebral exercises, but their execution leaves me as a reader unmoved. but i liked this spin on borges very much. it was wonderfully sad and helpless, but it is also a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the hope that someday it will all get better...even in hell. because, frankly, hell doesn't sound that bad, to me. at first. you get to eat any kind of food you want, you get to meet new people, you can form romantic attachments that last billions of years, sleep and wake refreshed and renewed the next day, even if you "die" in hell. but there is also danger, violence, drunkenness, people who believe they have all the answers, mini-cults, and kidnappings.and you probably ain't never going to find your book. and then losing someone in hell is way worse than losing someone in the real world. losing someone on earth, you know it is finished. they are dead, and that is that and there is nothing you can do about it. losing someone in hell? well, they are somewhere and somehow you could still find them. and it is that hope that is the true hell, the crushing blow. because it is so vast, you could spend billions of years, knowing that they could be there, one story above you.... one more story... one more..... heartbreaking. there is a nice readers' advisory angle to this, too. because how hard is it, when faced with all the books that are published today, to find one that you really want to read?? it is easier than hell, sure, because most of the books are not written in gibberish, but i have read some recently that may as well have been. and it is frustrating, and difficult to read book after book that just doesn't do it for you. imagine that, multiplied by a zillion zillion. good thing i have such highly developed RA skills. i should be okay in hell. provided i can find at least one book to read. come to my blog!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    Mormon Soren Johansson dies and wakes up in the afterlife, only to find that Zoroastrianism was the one true faith. He's then banished to a hell suitable for his rehabilitation needs: a library of near infinite size, containing every possible book ever written, one of which is his life story. Can Soren find that elusive book? I got this book for free from the publisher, and normally that would make it feel like a homework assignment from a crabby teacher once the "free book" excitement wore off. Mormon Soren Johansson dies and wakes up in the afterlife, only to find that Zoroastrianism was the one true faith. He's then banished to a hell suitable for his rehabilitation needs: a library of near infinite size, containing every possible book ever written, one of which is his life story. Can Soren find that elusive book? I got this book for free from the publisher, and normally that would make it feel like a homework assignment from a crabby teacher once the "free book" excitement wore off. Not so with this one. It's a damn good book. A Short Stay in Hell reminds me of something Philip Jose Farmer would concoct after digging through some of Hermann Hesse's notes, or if Hermann Hesse tried writing Riverworld. Soren wakes up in hell with a perfect 25 year old body, gets free food from kiosks, and is resurrected when killed. Sounds Farmer-ish, right? The library Soren wakes up in is based in part on Jorge Luis Borges Library of Babel. It's light-years tall, containing every 410 page book that could possibly ever be written. Needless to say, Soren's road to redemption isn't going to be a stroll down to the corner pub for a beer. Lots of things happen in this slim volume. It explores what immortality would be like while performing a seemingly impossible task. I don't want to give too much away but there's a near-bottomless chasm between the two walls of the library and it gets heavy use. Even though the first word I used in the summary is Mormon and Zoroastrianism also made an appearance, I wouldn't say it's religious fiction. It's more about one man dealing with an impossible task over an untold number of years. Still, he gets to read so it can't be all that bad... Like I said, this book was pretty slim. About the only complaint I have would be that the writing was a bit rocky in the early going but it smoothed out after the prologue and really moved the story along. Other than that, I would have liked it to be three or four times this long. It's either a high 3 or a low 4. I'm going to go with the 4.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Peck uses the Borges story "The Library of Babel" as inspiration for his own take on a version of Hell in this thought-provoking novella. As the story opens, Soren Johansson finds himself dressed in a robe, sitting on a metal folding chair with a view of men and women who are screaming while swimming in a lake of fire. He soon learns from Xandern, the 8-foot tall demon who welcomes him, that he has died, that Zoroastrianism is the one true religion, and that he is being sent to a specific versi Peck uses the Borges story "The Library of Babel" as inspiration for his own take on a version of Hell in this thought-provoking novella. As the story opens, Soren Johansson finds himself dressed in a robe, sitting on a metal folding chair with a view of men and women who are screaming while swimming in a lake of fire. He soon learns from Xandern, the 8-foot tall demon who welcomes him, that he has died, that Zoroastrianism is the one true religion, and that he is being sent to a specific version of hell, selected especially for him, until he has been "corrected" enough to go to heaven. Soren finds himself whisked away into an unimaginably vast library, based on Borges' Library of Babel, where he has to locate his life story among the endless shelves of volumes. He is not alone -- other people have been assigned the same task. Soon, they all realize how much more difficult their quest is than they ever imagined it to be. In the process, Peck creates a microcosm of human history, as he describes how Soren and his companions deal with these challenges -- through intimate relationships, organized study, cults, violence, compassion, loneliness, pain, sorrow, hopelessness, and love. Peck's novella first captured my imagination for the quirky details he uses to flesh out this vision of Hell. (He sold me from the start with the triumph of Zoroastrianism.) However, he kept my attention through his deft handling of key aspects of the human condition. The novella has stayed with me, as I continue to explore and consider the implications of the questions he raises.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    Angst is not a mere intellectual exercise. Existentialism is not just a philosophical movement. Steven L. Peck's A Short Stay in Hell drives this into the heart of the reader like no other existentialist work. I've been eyeball-deep in readings on existentialism lately (research for a novel and for my own despair edification), including William Barrett's outstanding Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy and Sartre's play No Exit, among others. But while I've enjoyed Barrett's study, Angst is not a mere intellectual exercise. Existentialism is not just a philosophical movement. Steven L. Peck's A Short Stay in Hell drives this into the heart of the reader like no other existentialist work. I've been eyeball-deep in readings on existentialism lately (research for a novel and for my own despair edification), including William Barrett's outstanding Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy and Sartre's play No Exit, among others. But while I've enjoyed Barrett's study, it is just that, a study in existential philosophy. And Sartre's play seems just a touch contrived (I mean just a touch, too - it did not spoil the play). But this . . . this little novella kicked my emotional depths right in the crotch. What could have been a work buried in academic gymnastics turns the rational boundaries by which one anesthetizes ones real self completely inside out. And it hurts. Oh, Ahura Mazda, it hurts! This is a novella which, if you have ever been in love and have then been involuntarily separated from the one you love, will tear your heart apart! If you are sensitive to the injustice of the world, your short stay in hell with Soren Johannson is going to be rather unpleasant. This isn't your typical conception of Hell. Hell here is modeled after, or at least pays homage to, Borges' "Library of Babel". And unlike the Christian hell, from which there is no escape (without a guide's help, at least), there is a way out. You merely need to peruse the 7.16^1,297,369 light year wide and deep library and find the one book that contains the complete story of your life, from beginning to end. How long can it take, really? Really . . . wrap your brain around that number. This is the size of the library that contains the books through which you must look to find your escape from Hell. This might take a while. The upside is that you live forever! And you can never die! Or, rather, you can die, but you always come back the next day. This is not without pain, however, and Johannson experiences pain in spades, especially when he finds himself (view spoiler)[murdered as a human sacrifice every morning for a number of months by followers of a nihilistic cult led by the religious fanatic Dire Dan (hide spoiler)] . But physical death, painful as it is, is nothing compared to the emotional pain of falling deeply in love and losing your lover (not that hard in a place as vast as this). You know that the one you love is there, somewhere, because they can't die, either. But, once lost, what hope do you have of finding that one person again, really? "Anticipation is a gift. Perhaps there is none greater. Anticipation is born of hope. Indeed it is hopes finest expression. In hope's loss, however, is the greatest despair." Taken out of context, this quote seems hyperbolic or even pithy. But in the context of the story, I can think of no more gut-wrenching, heart-twisting distillation of existentialism than this. It physically took my breath away when I read it. I gasped aloud and had to remind myself, for a split second, to breathe. It is that emotionally-charged, and a reminder of angst really feels like. A Short Stay in Hell won't give you the intellectual finesse of an examination such as Barrett's or the breadth of understanding that comes with a critical analysis of the philosophy and its history, but it will plunge you face-first down the heartbreaking abyss of what it means, what it feels like, to lose all hope. Dante's Inferno (which I love, by the way, so don't take this as too derogatory) is a childrens' amusement park, in comparison. No need to abandon hope while entering Peck's Hell: It will be stripped from you whether you want it to be or not; just give it time. You've got all of eternity. Or, rather, all of eternity has you!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Finite does not mean much if you can't tell any practical difference between it and infinite." - Steven L. Peck, A Short Stay in Hell I have bemoaned for years the sad state of Mormon letters. Do I need to comment here that I don't really consider Ender's Game or Twilight to be literature? There have been a couple close calls. I personally really liked Brady Udall's books (The Lonely Polygamist, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, and Letting Loose the Hounds: Stories) and I've heard good things abou "Finite does not mean much if you can't tell any practical difference between it and infinite." - Steven L. Peck, A Short Stay in Hell I have bemoaned for years the sad state of Mormon letters. Do I need to comment here that I don't really consider Ender's Game or Twilight to be literature? There have been a couple close calls. I personally really liked Brady Udall's books (The Lonely Polygamist, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, and Letting Loose the Hounds: Stories) and I've heard good things about Levi Peterson, but have yet to read him. There is also Walter Kirn, but I'm certain he wouldn't want his stint as a Mormon to throw him into consideration for Monarch of Mormon Lit (and to be fair, I doubt Steven Peck or Brady Udall would either). There is Brian Evenson who left BYU after the administration basically choked on his first book of stories (Altmann's Tongue: Stories and a Novella). After this small group the ground seems to really dry up. I wasn't exactly desperate to find a Mormon author who wrote well. I kinda just stopped caring. It wasn't like it was some endless quest that had meaning for me. It had none. It seemed absurd to try. My people seemed largely unable to deal with the complexity, absurdity, despair, nuance, and self-reflection necessary (I thought) to write really, REALLY good fiction. So, it was in this frame of mind that I made a dark comment about the state of Mormon letters to a friend named Kevin. The next time we met, he tossed this book at me. I was skeptical. I shelved it among the 2,000+ other books I owned, but had yet to read. I read probably 300 books between the time Kevin gave this book to me and the time I decided I was ready to read it. I'm not sure why I waited so long. The book isn't long. Hell. It is barely a novella. I think it weighs in at 104 pages. If it was a fish, you might be tempted to throw it back. It was ironic that I had more reluctance to read this novel than I had to read Proust's entire In Search of Lost Time. But today, I found it, opened it, and started reading. In about two hours I was done and I was changed. I was wrong. It was like discovering a whole room full of LDS monkeys had written me 1,000 notes and I just read one that said: "Oh, ye of little wraith." Anyway, enough preamble. Why did I enjoy this short book about a short stay in Hell? 1. Peck is an evolutionary ecologist with a background in biomathematics and entomology. So, it seems two (Peck, Evenson) of my three (Peck, Evenson, Udall) contenders for best living writers of Mormon Literature* are either scientists (Peck) or sons of scientists (Evenson's father William E Evenson is an emeritus professor of physics at BYU and is responsible, along with Duane E. Jeffery, of producing Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements). Achtung Mormon mothers. If you really want your little kid to grow up to write the Great American Mormon Novel, either marry a Physics professor, send your kid to school to study statistics and evolution, or surround her with a billion theoretical monkeys. 2. I love Peck's fluency with both the history of Borges, "The Total Library", "The Library of Babel", and the whole idea of large numbers, infinite monkey theorem, etc. He appears to by a polymath with an emphasis on math. 3. For me, what sets Peck apart with this novel, is his ability to turn the complexity and absurdity of large numbers into a believable Hell and nuance the Hell out of it. In many ways 'A Short Stay in Hell' is one of the most economical horror stories since H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. From time to time, this book seemed to also echo Edgar Allen Poe and Dan Simmons. And, least you think I've gone completely out of my mind, 'A Short Stay in Hell' isn't perfect. It could have been longer. Peck also isn't a perfect prose stylist. He isn't writing at the level of Herman Melville, Vladimir Nabokov, or Virginia Woolf. But that is OK. I'm willing to grade the prose of his novella on a bit of a curve since I NEVER thought I would personally live to find and enjoy a book written by a Mormon. My search is over and I so I now quietly apologize to the wise Lord Ahura Mazda for any offense and await my death and judgement. * I am purposefully not including Terry Tempest Williams in my list of Mormon writers of literature NOT because I'm a misogynist and don't think she writes valuable stuff, but because I think she is more of a memoirist and poet.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    March 2012 Hell is a vast, immeasurable, nearly infinite library--and you can only check out one book. Bad news for most of the human race: there is only one true religion, and it's Zoroastrianism. The good news: Ahura Mazda is a merciful god, and nonbelievers are not condemned to hell for all eternity. But they will be there for a very, very long time. For faithful Mormon Soren Johanssen, hell manifests as a library of nearly infinite proportions--a library, inspired by the story "The Library of March 2012 Hell is a vast, immeasurable, nearly infinite library--and you can only check out one book. Bad news for most of the human race: there is only one true religion, and it's Zoroastrianism. The good news: Ahura Mazda is a merciful god, and nonbelievers are not condemned to hell for all eternity. But they will be there for a very, very long time. For faithful Mormon Soren Johanssen, hell manifests as a library of nearly infinite proportions--a library, inspired by the story "The Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges, that contains every book ever written, every book that could possibly be written, and every variation thereof. To escape this hell and to enter heaven, Soren has one task: find the book that contains the story of his life. But which book? As another denizen of the library points out, "There's a second by second account of our lives, probably in multiple volumes, a minute by minute account, an hour by hour, a day by day. There's one that covers the events of our lives as viewed by our mothers, one by our fathers, one by our neighbors, one by our dogs. There must be thousands of our biographies here. Which one do they want, I wonder?" The rules are not specific, but it hardly matters: the library is billions--trillions--googols of times larger than anyone can possibly imagine, and to even find a coherent sentence on a single page of any particular book becomes a daunting task. Phrases like "sack it", "lightbulb ocean left", and "the bat housed again four leaves of it" become celebrated texts. Everything else, for light-years of books, is gibberish. But Soren tries to make the best of it. With much of eternity ahead of him, he drinks coffee (forbidden by his religion) for the first time, explores the shelves, finds love, fights, falls (for tens of thousands of light-years without ever hitting bottom), makes friends and loses them, witnesses the rise and fall of alliances and cults, and searches--searches--searches for his book. Eons later, after hundreds of billions of years, he is still searching. Did that sound boring? Sorry. I'm in a reviewing slump, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around this book, but you're going to have to take my word for it: THIS. BOOK. IS. FREAKING. BEAUTIFUL. And did I mention it's only 104 pages long? Ahura Mazda damn it, this book is too short. But at 104 pages, it also contains a trillion years of sorrow and hopelessness, so anything longer would be dangerous to read. Soren's impossible quest to find a single tome among several billion universes worth of books, and his other impossible quest to find the one woman who fell to the bottom of the library before him, is bleak, heartwrenching, disturbing, frightening--and impossibly beautiful. Gah. Bluh. But don't take my word for it. Go read this thing yourself. Faced with an eternity of torment promised by some of the other, lesser religions, or a not-quite-eternity on a single impossible quest, which would you choose? Another reviewer said that they were going to have to check out Zoroastrianism "just in case." Me, I'll take my chances. Hell is a vast library? C'mon, it can't be that bad... I'll probably regret saying that in about half a million years. (ARC provided by publisher)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Barrett

    Question: If you knew for a fact that not only was there a Hell but that there was a vast array of different types of Hell, how would you feel if you knew the Hell selected for you was a library? If you are reading this review then it's obvious you are also a book lover so you are probably thinking the answer is a no-brainer. All righty then! You need to read this novella and then tell me what you think after that. Of course I didn't get into detail as to how a library could possibly be bad, let Question: If you knew for a fact that not only was there a Hell but that there was a vast array of different types of Hell, how would you feel if you knew the Hell selected for you was a library? If you are reading this review then it's obvious you are also a book lover so you are probably thinking the answer is a no-brainer. All righty then! You need to read this novella and then tell me what you think after that. Of course I didn't get into detail as to how a library could possibly be bad, let a lone any kind of Hell, but I will let the reader discover that for themselves. Let's just say, this story almost hurt my brain just trying to fathom the magnitude of suffering from something as incomprehensible as an existence that continues on for innumerable light years. I really enjoyed this story. It peeled back my perspective like an onion and left me actually appreciating my mortality. If the man on the corner preaching Hell fire and brimstone ever reads this story I'm sure he will be altering his sermon.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Newton

    I absolutely loved this book! It's a short read, but a unique one. It raises so many questions, and it haunts you long after you have finished reading it. It also calls into question the concepts of finite and infinite, and introduces numbers the size of which make my head hurt (not actually that hard to do--I'm an English teacher, so I'm befuddled by fairly small numbers, which these aren't). It starts with a Mormon guy finding out, as everyone else is, that no matter what your religion was, it I absolutely loved this book! It's a short read, but a unique one. It raises so many questions, and it haunts you long after you have finished reading it. It also calls into question the concepts of finite and infinite, and introduces numbers the size of which make my head hurt (not actually that hard to do--I'm an English teacher, so I'm befuddled by fairly small numbers, which these aren't). It starts with a Mormon guy finding out, as everyone else is, that no matter what your religion was, it was the wrong one. Only Zoroastrianism will get you into Heaven, and how many people practice that? Everyone else is condemned to Hell. The good news is that Hell is not how it has been portrayed to many. There are no flames and imps with pitchforks, and it's not permanent. After a period of time, you can win your way out. Our protagonist, Soran Johanssen, will spend his period of penance in a library full of an infinite number of books. Wait! You say. Isn't this supposed to be Hell? Isn't Hell supposed to be bad? Are you sure this isn't Heaven? It's a library! But wait, children--you didn't let me finish. Out of this infinity of books, the percentage of ones that have the alphabet arranged in ways that make sense is extremely small. So, yeah, it's Hell! Imagine being in a library and seeing shelves that stretch as far as the eye can see: rows and rows of books, AND NOT ONE THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY READ! That, my friends, is HELL! *** SPOILERS AHEAD *** Soren's job, like everyone else there, is to find the one book that is about him. It doesn't take long for the newly condemned to realize the futility of this enterprise. They have been tasked with the library version of finding the needle in the haystack. They start off bemoaning the fact that this might take up to ten years to accomplish, but later in the book, they have been searching for billions of years. Like I said, the numbers make my head hurt! There are some good things about Hell: you can get anything you want to eat--anything! You just order it at a feeding station and it instantly appears. There are other people to hang out with, to be friends with, and even to have romantic encounters with. People hook up and break up, just like on Earth. No matter what injury you sustain, even death, is magically healed the next day. If you die in Hell, no matter how horrifically, you wake up the next day, fresh as a daisy. The problem with Hell, other than the lack of good reading material, is that it is peopled by humans. Humans find a way to ruin everything, including Hell. They form gangs, they attack each other, there's rape, assault, and murder. It is during one of these attacks that Soren experiences the event that makes this place even more hellish for him--he loses the woman he loves. Losing someone in the library doesn't mean in death; it means you actually lose them, as in you can no longer find them. They're still there, but you don't know where. Since it is infinite in size, and you don't have cell phones, it's extremely unlikely you will find each other again. So he knows she's still there, probably looking for him, but there's nothing to be done about it. There are just so many issues to ponder with this book: religion, God, eternity, existentialism. Soren clings to his hope, both of finding his book, but especially of finding his lost love. Many others he runs across have lost all hope. What a truly terrible existence--to have lost all hope, all reason for living, but to be cursed with eternal life. That truly is Hell. I urge you to read this book, despite how bleak it sounds. It's really quite engrossing. Highly recommended!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marvin

    When I first read the description of this brief book I was fascinated by the premise but also had some questions. Why would the description emphasize that the protagonist is a "faithful Mormon". The letter from Strange Violin Editions that came with this advance copy only piqued my curiosity with its stated mission being to release writings by "Mormons, former Mormons, and people interested in Mormonism who seek thought-provoking, intelligently written, Mormonism-related books that strive to att When I first read the description of this brief book I was fascinated by the premise but also had some questions. Why would the description emphasize that the protagonist is a "faithful Mormon". The letter from Strange Violin Editions that came with this advance copy only piqued my curiosity with its stated mission being to release writings by "Mormons, former Mormons, and people interested in Mormonism who seek thought-provoking, intelligently written, Mormonism-related books that strive to attain a high level of literary quality." I wondered if this book was possibly a religious tract of some sort beyond the somewhat bleak and horrific plot description. It is not. While it has strong philosophical tones, it is quite existential and offers more questions than answers. And they are questions that are relevant to anyone regardless of their religious or philosophical background. The Hell of Peck's novella is based on a short story by Jorge Luis Borges about a library containing an allegedly infinite amount of books. The new arrivals are informed that the true religion is Zoroastrianism. "Zoor-what-ism?" acclaims one shocked Christian. The main character is sentenced to a vast library with the goal to seek out the book that contains the story of his life. But eventually even this seemingly final exile into hell is questioned. Peck in his accessible and delightful style seems to have written a story about uncertainty and our attempts to make that uncertainty have meaning. Despite the heavy sounding plot, A Short Stay in Hell is an easy and engrossing read but it also full of ideas that stick with you long after the last page. At the beginning of our protagonist's trip into hell, he is given a list of rules. The last rule in not commented on much in the book but it stayed with me... Lastly, you are here to learn something.Don't try to figure what it is. That can be frustrating and unproductive. It appears that Peck's hell isn't all that different from life. Four and a half stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David

    So, you die and wind up in hell, greeted by a demon who says "Yeah, that religion you chose? Sorry, wrong one!" This was a very odd little short novel, about a Mormon who dies and finds out that in fact, there is one true religion, and it isn't Mormonism. But don't worry - this is neither an anti-Mormon nor an evangelical work. The fact that the main character is a Mormon is just coincidence - he is joined in hell by many other people who are equally surprised at having checked the wrong box. (Wha So, you die and wind up in hell, greeted by a demon who says "Yeah, that religion you chose? Sorry, wrong one!" This was a very odd little short novel, about a Mormon who dies and finds out that in fact, there is one true religion, and it isn't Mormonism. But don't worry - this is neither an anti-Mormon nor an evangelical work. The fact that the main character is a Mormon is just coincidence - he is joined in hell by many other people who are equally surprised at having checked the wrong box. (What is the "one true religion," according to this book? It probably won't be your first or second or third guess... you'll just have to read it.) The hell he is sent to (it's implied that there are multiple hells) is an infinite library, in which the residents are told all they have to do is find the one book on its shelves that tells their entire life story, complete and without a single typo or error. The catch is that every possible book of a given length, given the 95 standard characters on a Latin-character typewriter, exists in this library. This is, in fact, literally Jorge Luis Borges' Library of Babel. So, technically it's not infinite. But someone calculates the actual number of books that must exist in the library. If you know anything about exponentiation, you already have an inkling of how big the number is. For all practical purposes, the library is infinite and the residents of hell are stuck there for eternity. The main character spends some time (a lot of time) exploring, meeting other people, figuring out the metaphysical rules that govern this place, and searching for that one book in umpty-gazillion-googleplex-to-the-numptifinity-power that will get him out. This wasn't as philosophical as you might expect - there are not really any theological explorations on the part of the author or the characters. It's more of a modern tribute to Jorge Luis Borges, with some parts that reminded me a bit of Piers Anthony or Jack Chalker - not their penchant for skeeviness, but the way they create odd alternate worlds with different metaphysical rules and then toss an ordinary person into them to figure their way around.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jami

    This is a rather disturbing, thought-provoking novella. Read it in a single sitting. One of the most horrific hells I've ever pondered. I'm sure it will be in my brain until the day I die. Some parts reminded me of Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place, others of Orson Scott Card's short story "A Thousand Deaths." A good read, but don't expect a happy ending. It's about hell after all. Available very inexpensively as a Kindle book. Update: It's been nearly a year since I read this and I still fi This is a rather disturbing, thought-provoking novella. Read it in a single sitting. One of the most horrific hells I've ever pondered. I'm sure it will be in my brain until the day I die. Some parts reminded me of Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place, others of Orson Scott Card's short story "A Thousand Deaths." A good read, but don't expect a happy ending. It's about hell after all. Available very inexpensively as a Kindle book. Update: It's been nearly a year since I read this and I still find myself thinking about it. I originally gave this three stars because I didn't like the darkness, the subject, or the main character, but I'm going to have to raise my rating to five based on pure mind-bending power.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    The food in hell is fantastic. Anything you want. Whenever you want it. They do your laundry and the bar is open 24/7. You can hang out with your friends all day, every day, for eternity. Sh*t, there are even walls and walls of books on the shelves for as far as the eyes can see…and beyond. 410 pages each. 40 lines per page and 80 characters per line. Maybe, hell, ain’t so bad after all. Nope. Wishful thinking. It’s still hell...Damn. (Literally.) Steven L. Peck pens an excellent novella about a The food in hell is fantastic. Anything you want. Whenever you want it. They do your laundry and the bar is open 24/7. You can hang out with your friends all day, every day, for eternity. Sh*t, there are even walls and walls of books on the shelves for as far as the eyes can see…and beyond. 410 pages each. 40 lines per page and 80 characters per line. Maybe, hell, ain’t so bad after all. Nope. Wishful thinking. It’s still hell...Damn. (Literally.) Steven L. Peck pens an excellent novella about a man who gets sent to hell for not recognizing the one true religion. The fact that he was a decent person who never harmed anyone, and the religion in question is so off the wall that virtually nobody has ever heard of it, seems to be irrelevant. Now, our protagonist is shipped off hell in search of the story of his life that will set him free. Good luck brudda. Youz gonna need it. A super solid novella from a "new-to-me" author that I will be keeping an eye out for in the future. 4.5 Stars and Highly Recommended!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    What an eye-opener this book is. Today, I appreciate the birds singing, the cockroaches crawling, the flies flying more than ever; I just finished “A Short Stay in Hell”. This was a concept of hell that I’ve never thought about before and that’s what makes this book so good. It makes you think about religion in a whole different light. Back a few months ago I read a review of this and was excited to try it. I had to order it at Barnes & Noble, it wasn't on the shelf. I am so glad I did. Steven What an eye-opener this book is. Today, I appreciate the birds singing, the cockroaches crawling, the flies flying more than ever; I just finished “A Short Stay in Hell”. This was a concept of hell that I’ve never thought about before and that’s what makes this book so good. It makes you think about religion in a whole different light. Back a few months ago I read a review of this and was excited to try it. I had to order it at Barnes & Noble, it wasn't on the shelf. I am so glad I did. Steven Peck brings you into an eternity that is unbelievable and haunting. Who is this God? Never heard of him/her! Of course, that is the whole idea. Who should we REALLY be praying to? References are made of “The Library of Babel” by Borges. I wonder if I had read this first, would I have enjoyed “A Short Stay in Hell” more. I can’t get this story off my mind, and I will be haunted by it for a long time to come, maybe eternity. This is a 5-star with no hesitation.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition

    It was fascinating at first, and as a reader, a version of hell would definitely be all the books possible, yet none that make any sense. However, all the countless numbers overwhelmed me and became tedious to the point that a short stay in hell was trying to finish this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    April Cote

    What if hell was full of nothing but books? Doesn't sound bad right? Wrong. It's hell, and even if it's full of something you love, it can be an unbelievable torture. This short story was mind blowing and terrifying. I have never thought of, or read of hell in such a way. Highly recommend! What if hell was full of nothing but books? Doesn't sound bad right? Wrong. It's hell, and even if it's full of something you love, it can be an unbelievable torture. This short story was mind blowing and terrifying. I have never thought of, or read of hell in such a way. Highly recommend!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gloria Mundi

    Imagine, you have just died. I know, kinda crappy, right? But! At least all your earthly suffering is over. Whatever caused your death is no longer troubling you and you are restored to the prime of your youth and deposited into a vast, almost infinite library filled with every book that could ever be written and where you do not age, you have perfect memory and are able to recall every word you have ever read and every event that has ever happened to you, your every injury and even death are he Imagine, you have just died. I know, kinda crappy, right? But! At least all your earthly suffering is over. Whatever caused your death is no longer troubling you and you are restored to the prime of your youth and deposited into a vast, almost infinite library filled with every book that could ever be written and where you do not age, you have perfect memory and are able to recall every word you have ever read and every event that has ever happened to you, your every injury and even death are healed overnight, your every culinary desire is met by an automated kiosk and you are surrounded by people who are pretty similar to you in background. You would think that you are in heaven, wouldn't you? Or at least a book geek's version of it. Yet, you'd be entirely and completely wrong. Because you are actually in hell. Or one version of it based on a short story by Borges The Library of Babel. Until I read the book, just the concept of a library as hell was complete anathema to my mind. The story tells you straight up, however, that this is hell, as you are greeted by a polite but very red demon against the backdrop of bodies burning endlessly in tar and lava and told that you are here because the one true faith is Zoroastrianism, so bad luck for you unless you worship the Lord of Light and Wisdom Ahura Mazda. Here he is by the way: (I seriously need to go read up on this stuff as this is the second book made of awesome which I have read in the last year which is based, at least in part, on Zoroastrian mythology). The devil, of course, is in the detail and comes down to how you define a "book". Because for me, you see, in order to be a "book" something needs to not just be shaped as a book (in fact, with the advent of e-books, it doesn't even need to be shaped as a book at all) but also have content capable of conveying meaning (even if it is meaning which I am not capable of understanding). Whereas in the Zoroastrian hell library, a "book" is essentially a paper book of a set size, 410 pages long and with a set number of lines per page and letters per line consisting of about 95 characters on the standard English keyboard arranged in all possible variations which gives us 95 to the power of 1,312,000 possible books, i.e. quite a bit more than there are electrons in the universe and a library that's about 7,16 to the power of 1,297,369 light years wide and deep but the vast majority of which are just a random arrangement of letters and symbols which carries no meaning whatsoever. Your task in this hell is to find your earthly life story without errors. "If your story is accepted, you will be admitted into a glorious heaven filled with wonders and joys beyond your imagination." Oh, and "you are here to lean something. Don't try to figure out what it is. This can be frustrating and unproductive". This book was mind-blowing. It is a book about philosophy and religion and the meaning of life – all things that normally make me cringe and move slowly away but here it was all done in such a gentle non-patronising non-head-bashing way, it was fascinating. My only complaint is that it was not long enough. At the start, it is described as a book found by the narrator in the library. So where, I ask you, are the other 302 pages then? Yet, this is a minor complaint. For all its brevity, there is so much packed into the pages of this book. Love, loss, violence, horror, insanity, cattle mentality, sorrow, hope, hopelessness, infinity are just a few of the themes. I'm sure I will be picking this up again sooner rather than later.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside)

    An imaginative, weird, and often funny look at what happens when one man dies and finds out the true religion was Zoroastrianism, and he's bound for a rehabilitative Hell. Don't worry; he only has to stay for a little while, until he's been brought around. Unfortunately God and his/her demons reckon time differently from the way humans do, and his short stay in Hell stretches for a virtual eternity while he searches for the one book containing the story of his life among more books than there ar An imaginative, weird, and often funny look at what happens when one man dies and finds out the true religion was Zoroastrianism, and he's bound for a rehabilitative Hell. Don't worry; he only has to stay for a little while, until he's been brought around. Unfortunately God and his/her demons reckon time differently from the way humans do, and his short stay in Hell stretches for a virtual eternity while he searches for the one book containing the story of his life among more books than there are atoms in the universe. Cleverly, this novella explores the origins of religion and the role of violence in human nature as background themes. The little society which builds itself up in Peck's imaginative Hell is fun and funny, but it certainly has its problems, and goes through familiar evolutions as the eons pass. A novella, though, may not be the perfect vehicle for such a story. In some respects it felt too short, too pat for the larger ideas it contained. I would love to see this scenario redone as a full-length novel, so the characters and setting could be more fully explored, so the ending could feel like more of an unmistakable wrap-up (even considering not much is actually wrapped up; the ending still seemed abrupt), and so the entire Rebecca situation could feel like a more convincing motivation for the narrator. It's hard not to compare two different works by the same author. So I won't try to avoid that. I recently read and loved The Scholar of Moab, Peck's novel. By comparison with this novella, Scholar was far more engaging and poignant, to the point that I couldn't stop reading it, even at inconvenient times. Longer forms may be Peck's greater strength, though I've only read two of his works, so how can I say for sure? In all, though, A Short Stay in Hell is worth reading. It's quick, smart, and funny, and boy am I glad I'm not in Hell.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Valentina

    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 ta 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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Muntz

    This is an interesting book. It's sort of like Borges fanfiction, except the Library of Babel is slightly modified into an afterlife (in a universe where Zaroastrianism is the true religion, and there seem to be multiple hells). I feel like Peck is mostly a mediocre writer who stumbled onto a good idea, but this book is pretty fun to read, despite painfully bland characterization and a sort of clumsiness from scene to scene. By making the library an afterlife I feel like Peck sort of misses part This is an interesting book. It's sort of like Borges fanfiction, except the Library of Babel is slightly modified into an afterlife (in a universe where Zaroastrianism is the true religion, and there seem to be multiple hells). I feel like Peck is mostly a mediocre writer who stumbled onto a good idea, but this book is pretty fun to read, despite painfully bland characterization and a sort of clumsiness from scene to scene. By making the library an afterlife I feel like Peck sort of misses part of the appeal of Borges' original story--a lot of mechanisms are similar, and we see the same attempts to create culture and struggle against the futility of it, but in the original story I was always very interested in how this contained universe generated a culture that seemed to come completely from outside it... though I guess, yeah, that also frames the original as a kind of afterlife. But there was something much more mysterious about Borges' self-contained universe, whereas framing it as a Zoroastrian afterlife makes it comprehensible in a different way; there's a lot of stuff about size and scale in this book, but the metaphysical questions all become religious in a way that felt more familiar and much less interesting. What surprised me, I think, is despite the very rudimentary characterization, this book becomes very affecting around the time it becomes a love story, mainly becomes it captures this really fantastic, almost existential futility. It was also fun to see something that messed with such a silly timescale--the protagonist stays in the afterlife for something like billions of years--even if the novel doesn't finish its arc so much as give up. When it comes to work that draws from Borges, I'd definitely recommend The Infinite Library by Kane Faucher, which is a much more successful attempt to turn The Library of Babel into a novel, and one that adds to the original ideas instead of just drawing them out; but this was still a fun, quick book to read, so I think I'd settle somewhere around 3.5 stars.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leah Polcar

    This review refers to the audiobook. I found A Short Stay in Hell a remarkable novella. The premise is relatively simple: when you die, unless you are a Zoroastrian, you will find yourself on a cheap folding chair facing a demon who decides your not-quite-eternal fate. Our hero ends up assigned to a hell that instantiates Jorge Luis Borges' Library of Babel where he must search for the book(s) that perfectly describes every second of his life. Peck's library is even worse than Borges since I am p This review refers to the audiobook. I found A Short Stay in Hell a remarkable novella. The premise is relatively simple: when you die, unless you are a Zoroastrian, you will find yourself on a cheap folding chair facing a demon who decides your not-quite-eternal fate. Our hero ends up assigned to a hell that instantiates Jorge Luis Borges' Library of Babel where he must search for the book(s) that perfectly describes every second of his life. Peck's library is even worse than Borges since I am pretty sure he allows for some punctuation Borges didn't, but in essence the library is a collection of every book that could ever be written. At first glance, assuming you haven't read the Borges story, this could be awesome – one gets to spend (a near) eternity reading every possible coherent narrative (fictional, non-fictional, and poetic) and come across a google of seriously kick-ass stuff before you found your story. (If you don't break your glasses that is). However, coherence was never specified and Peck's hellish library contains every possible combination of the 26 letters in the English alphabet and the punctuation found on a QWERTY keyboard. He does throw in a Borges limitation that each book contains only 410 pages where each page contains 40 lines with 80 characters per line, but even if you aren't a math person, you can probably see that there are going to be a lot of possible books. (Put it this way, if you were to try to write out the number of possible books it would literally take more digits than there are observable atoms in the known universe. Peck does provide an estimate – though I was on the audiobook so I didn't see how it was expressed – but in terms of just the space needed to house the number of books, we are talking light years of space). To get an idea of what a hell like this could be like, check out the very cool The Library of Babel and select a random page. Needless to say, the punished celebrate enthusiastically when they find any sort of coherent phrase – forget about an entire coherent volume. The demon makes a point when assigning his new inductees that Christians are very un-Christian when they talk about a hell that would exist for eternity, but as we find out in A Short Time in Hell, eternity is sort of relative at a certain point. It is exactly this sort of concept that Peck entertains in this novella and which is so very effective. Peck addresses many philosophical, existential, and to some degree sociological questions in A Short Stay. What does it mean to be human? Does morality have intrinsic value? What does it truly mean to have one's needs met? What is loneliness and what value does human connection bring to our experience of existence? And so on. The sociology is a little light – we do see the formation of societal groups, but Peck isn't concerned with creating a civilization or exploring man's relationship to social constructions (in my opinion), but instead focusing more narrowly on the experience of the individual connected to other individuals, not a collective. Despite the heavy-hitting themes, I thought the story was well-conveyed and I was never bogged down in overly philosophical meanderings or academic language. The plot, such as it was, moved right along – and I found it a very entertaining story -- and the novella format allowed Peck to introduce a lot of concepts that get the reader thinking without either providing all the answers or leaving the reader hanging. I loved this book and highly recommend it. The audio is also well done and I found Sergei Burbank gave perfect voice to the thoughtful Soren Johannsen. At turns both ironic and very human, the narration was top notch. Buy, Borrow, or Burn: Buy. You can also read this on my blog READ OR DIE . The review there has extra bonus features like a whole extra picture!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    "A Short Stay in Hell" has some elements of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Defending Your Life, and Groundhog Day. But, especially for a Mormon (despite the recent request, I'm still using this term for this book) reader, it is also a fabulous blow-your-paradigm-out-the-water mind shift. I can't stop thinking about it. I have talked about it with nearly everyone I've come in contact since I began it. Its importance for a Mormon thinker goes both ways: it opens your mind to the idea that, if yo "A Short Stay in Hell" has some elements of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Defending Your Life, and Groundhog Day. But, especially for a Mormon (despite the recent request, I'm still using this term for this book) reader, it is also a fabulous blow-your-paradigm-out-the-water mind shift. I can't stop thinking about it. I have talked about it with nearly everyone I've come in contact since I began it. Its importance for a Mormon thinker goes both ways: it opens your mind to the idea that, if your religion happened not to be "the true one," how would you respond and adapt?; and, if the Mormon religion happens to be the one, like in the South Park episode, this book creates a window of understanding and compassion for those who don't think like you. (The coffee section especially made me snicker.) Peck's writing is clean, straight-forward, and descriptive; nothing elaborate nor elegant. And yet, he has some beautifully crafted ideas. I was immediately charmed on the first page with the phrase "a brief love can structure and define the very topology of our consciousness ever after." And this one: "Where do all the things you believed go, when all the supporting structure is found to be a myth?" (p. 52) And this: "How do you stay with someone when there are no dreams to build?" (p. 63) A Short Stay has a subtle humor which I appreciated. The initial interview with the gatekeeper of Hell was a fantastic contradiction and disjointed image of bureaucratic humor and pagan realism. He doesn't have fully fleshed-out, nuanced characters. There are some relationships where hundreds of years go by, but we only get a blink of that personality. It often felt like time was glossed over - because, duh, eons - and time spent developing these missing areas might have given the book and the characters a little more substance; OR, rightly so, might have only invited the reader to the intense boredom and monotony the protagonist felt. I gained several insights as I read and scribbled them in the margins. I found it an interesting thought that, no matter where we are, we will create little societies within those spaces. Relationships and personal interactions are important and make us who we are. Being that some of my work revolves around promoting The Golden Rule, I was delighted to see that its universality carried into Hell as well. I couldn't help thinking that, despite the eternal damnation present in this scenario, there are ways to find and do good there. It comes down to helping others and seeing beauty in hidden places. Man makes his own hell. Man is his own devil. And Man is his own God. Man makes his own heaven.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) Earlier this year I had the chance to review Therese Doucet's delightful if not flawed lapsed-Mormon memoir A Lost Argument, which I thoroughly enjoyed despite its problems; so I was excited to learn that Doucet had actually started a new small press based on her experiences, and devoted to putting out ot (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) Earlier this year I had the chance to review Therese Doucet's delightful if not flawed lapsed-Mormon memoir A Lost Argument, which I thoroughly enjoyed despite its problems; so I was excited to learn that Doucet had actually started a new small press based on her experiences, and devoted to putting out other intelligent looks at formerly devout people questioning their faith. But unfortunately, the next title from this small press, Seven L. Peck's A Short Stay in Hell, is not that book; instead it's a rather silly and awfully padded-out fairytale, in which a Mormon dies and promptly learns from God that the one true faith is actually the obscure Zoroastrianism, and that the vast majority of humans who didn't believe in this faith while alive are fated to spend several billion years in a Hell that for some reason is specifically designed after a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, in which an infinitely large library contains one full-length book for every combination of a million sequential letters that exists in the universe. You could argue the logic of such a setup, argue that the human mind would snap long before finding the one specific book that each person is charged with locating in order to leave Hell, complain that the book is literally worthless in all the pages between the gimmicky setup and the "ba-dump-dah" ending; but all of that would miss the bigger point, that this book isn't worth spending that kind of time complaining about in the first place, the kind of empty cute literary exercise that you would normally expect to find as filler in the back of a random church bulletin one Sunday, not as a full-length book that someone is expecting you to pay ten dollars for. A disappointment from a press that otherwise got off to a great start, here's hoping that Doucet will be able to find further smart, intimate memoirs for Strange Violin in the future, and be able to skip these time-wasting bad jokes altogether. Out of 10: 5.2

  23. 4 out of 5

    The Behrg

    A Short Stay in Hell is one of those books you wonder why you haven't heard of prior to actually hearing of it, then you pick out each of your friends who HAVE heard of it and shoot spit-wads at their doors for not telling you about it sooner. This is the type of writing I enjoy -- ultra creative, character-driven, but more than just "fluff." In fact, there's some serious goings on in this going on. This is the story of a devout Mormon who ends up in Hell, learning that the one true religion was A Short Stay in Hell is one of those books you wonder why you haven't heard of prior to actually hearing of it, then you pick out each of your friends who HAVE heard of it and shoot spit-wads at their doors for not telling you about it sooner. This is the type of writing I enjoy -- ultra creative, character-driven, but more than just "fluff." In fact, there's some serious goings on in this going on. This is the story of a devout Mormon who ends up in Hell, learning that the one true religion was Zoroastrionism. Talk about a let-down, huh? But it turns out hell isn't that bad -- there's free food, plenty of people to chat with, and you can even get out of hell by finding the one book that carries your life's story in it in a library where every book that could possibly have been written has been written. What Peck does with the premise is spectacular and quite mathematical, infusing emotions you wouldn't expect within this complex equation. More questions are posed than answered, but this is a story where the execution exceeds the idea, and you'll never have so much fun experiencing what a truly hellish existence could be like. "There is a despair that goes deeper than existence; it runs to the marrow of consciousness, to the seat of the soul." Part love story, part memorandum, but all in all one "hell" of a novella. Highly recommended. (Spit-wads can be directed at the others who DIDN'T recommend this to you)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Butterworth

    This is a fast read, but count on it dwelling in your mind for a while as you can't help but contemplate what eternity really means, and your brain tries to comprehend things so large and long that it literally boggles. Plus a great story, sympathetic character development, and fascinating hi-jinks ensue. This is a fast read, but count on it dwelling in your mind for a while as you can't help but contemplate what eternity really means, and your brain tries to comprehend things so large and long that it literally boggles. Plus a great story, sympathetic character development, and fascinating hi-jinks ensue.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    It seems I love any story that has a library as the setting, even if the library is hell. Very well written and thought-provoking, I especially liked the author's ideas on how homogeneity and monotony would affect us. I am not normally a fan of novella's but this is well worth the read. It seems I love any story that has a library as the setting, even if the library is hell. Very well written and thought-provoking, I especially liked the author's ideas on how homogeneity and monotony would affect us. I am not normally a fan of novella's but this is well worth the read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul Genesse

    Most Fascinating Trip to Hell . . . Ever I’ve been to Hell a few times, but this was my most fascinating trip ever. Sure, my trips were through the eyes of characters in books that went there, but I have felt like I was in Hell on numerous occasions. Don’t even think about comparing the Hell of junior high, or any experience anyone on Earth has ever had to Steven L. Peck’s novella, A Short Stay in Hell. This is like no other journey you or I have ever had. Why? Because our existence here on Earth Most Fascinating Trip to Hell . . . Ever I’ve been to Hell a few times, but this was my most fascinating trip ever. Sure, my trips were through the eyes of characters in books that went there, but I have felt like I was in Hell on numerous occasions. Don’t even think about comparing the Hell of junior high, or any experience anyone on Earth has ever had to Steven L. Peck’s novella, A Short Stay in Hell. This is like no other journey you or I have ever had. Why? Because our existence here on Earth is just the blink of an eye when compared to the span of time that approaches eternity. The sheer creativity of this novella (29,000 words) boggles the mind in its breadth and scope, and the writing was so thought provoking and gripping both for atheists and believers alike. It’s great fiction and I read this book in about two hours, and literally did not want to put it down. The 104 pages flew by as I read about Soren Johansson, a forty something year old man who died of brain cancer and ended up in a very different place than he was counting on. He learns rather quickly from the demon he meets at the start that the only true religion is Zoroastrianism, and only those practitioners go to Heaven. Or perhaps that is a lie. Regardless, poor Soren is condemned along with the others that he meets. Each person goes to their own personal Hell, and Soren ends up in The Library, which is based on George Luis Borges story, “The Library of Babel.” You don’t need to have read the story to understand this book, and I shall not spoil some of the surprises here, but suffice it to say that Soren must accomplish a task that seems utterly impossible if he wishes to ever leave this terrible place where he has been condemned. This book is so profound that it had me compulsively mulling over the terrifying implications for the past two days. The opening of A Short Stay in Hell is intriguing, but slightly confusing. It’s a frame story, but the rest of the book was very easy to understand and once I finished the last page all told from poor Soren’s point of view, I instantly turned to the first pages and read the whole first chapter again. It was one of those “wow” moments to go back and read them again. I read a quote about this work from an author I greatly admire and I think it captures the essence of Peck’s novella flawlessly: “Profound and disturbing, A Short Stay In Hell is a perfect blend of science fiction, theology, and horror. A terrifying meditation on faith, human nature, and the relentless scope of eternity. It will haunt you, fittingly, for a very, very long time.” —Dan Wells, author of I Am Not a Serial Killer I loved reading A Short Stay in Hell and it has given me an understanding of the human condition that I never had before. It’s hard for me to fathom how Steven L. Peck packed so much into this slim volume, or how difficult it was to whittle down this story to the razor sharp book that it is. This is no effete literary or philosophical book that distances the reader from the text. It pulls you in, tugs at your heart, makes you question the meaning of life and love, while being utterly captivating, gripping, exciting, mysterious, hopeful, and above all illuminating on the concept of forever. A Short Stay in Hell is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED —Paul Genesse, Editor of The Crimson Pact anthology series

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Raymond

    It's books like this that make me absolutely love Goodreads. I received this as an advance copy after finding the book's premise to be really fascinating. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, and there's no way I would have ever even known the book existed without Goodreads, so yeah. The premise is very simple - Hell is different for different people, there's only one true religion (and you probably don't subscribe to it), and the hero of our story, Soren, is in Hell and has been sent to It's books like this that make me absolutely love Goodreads. I received this as an advance copy after finding the book's premise to be really fascinating. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, and there's no way I would have ever even known the book existed without Goodreads, so yeah. The premise is very simple - Hell is different for different people, there's only one true religion (and you probably don't subscribe to it), and the hero of our story, Soren, is in Hell and has been sent to a version of the Library of Babel, a library that contains every possible book that could ever possibly be written, and the only way out is to find your own story in a book somewhere on the seemingly limitless shelves. The book is great on a number of levels - it has a really fun version of Hell as is, and the book really instills the right about of depth and despair inherent in the concept while leaving room for some humor and light-heartedness. While I don't know if I can go so far as to say that there's a deeper message here, there's plenty of thoughts and ideas that come about from reading this regardless, whether it be about the reality of humanity, the inanity of seemingly pointless tasks, or just the concept of what may very well be infinite or forever. I really have no complaints about this book. Even the ending was as immensely satisfying as it was unexpected, and that is a rarity in a lot of fiction. At novella length, it makes me wish it went on longer in some respects, but also makes me very happy that there's absolutely no filler to have to deal with. I feel like this book is much better than it has any business being, and that's just a great find amongst the many shelves we have on earth. I cannot recommend this book enough.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    A terrifically thought-provoking novella about a Hell based off Borges' "Library of Babel". It's a philosophical examination of infinity and eternity, of the human capacity to adapt, and of religion and tolerance. Smart, funny, and surprisingly good at shrinking mind-boggling concepts into a comprehensible framework. Still, a library that goes on for lightyears in every direction that's mostly full of gibberish... a truly terrifying thought if ever there was one. Definitely worth your time - I s A terrifically thought-provoking novella about a Hell based off Borges' "Library of Babel". It's a philosophical examination of infinity and eternity, of the human capacity to adapt, and of religion and tolerance. Smart, funny, and surprisingly good at shrinking mind-boggling concepts into a comprehensible framework. Still, a library that goes on for lightyears in every direction that's mostly full of gibberish... a truly terrifying thought if ever there was one. Definitely worth your time - I sincerely hope this book gets picked up by a wider audience, as it might just go a little ways in helping our fractured society remember to a) laugh a bit, b) tolerate a lot more, and c) stop worrying so much about who is and isn't going to Hell - because if it does exist, it probably isn't what any of you think it's going to be. I'd love to send this book to every Santorum voter, see if we can't bring about a little more rationality and sanity. Jon Stewart, you ought to have Mr. Peck onto your show - it's an ideal conversation. More talk about philosophy and this wondrous little novella over at Raging Biblioholism: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-lM (PS: a big thanks to Strange Violin Editions for sending me a copy as a First Reads! So glad I got to read it!)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Shumate

    This eschatological novella gives an unblinking look at what is often the unspoken worst part of the traditional idea of damnation: its duration. Highly recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leah Bayer

    Holy. Shit. (more eloquent review to come when I can collect my thoughts on this beauty of a book)

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.