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Butler in Hell.jpg

Hell by Robert Olen Butler

By HarperJay | Books | February 24, 2010 |

By HarperJay | Books | February 24, 2010 |

Robert Olen Butler’s Hell is well written and quite funny. Hell, in his imagination, is a thoroughly modern place with all the amenities of today’s society. It seems everyone is there from the obvious — Stalin, Hitler, Henry the VIII — to the less obvious: Bill Clinton (who is compelled to pull down his pants every time a woman enters his hotel room), Shakespeare (his writing is doomed by the Blue Screen of Death), and a maniacal Nixon as a chauffeur. I seem to remember the Bee Gees being there. Huh.

So the premise is this: Hatcher was a newscaster in life and is now one in hell. He lands the interview of the his afterlife with Satan for his ongoing series “Why Do You Think You Are Here?” Though this interview is just a small portion of the book, I found it to be the absolute funniest part. To avoid giving too much information, I will go on to say that as a result of this interview Hatcher figures out that he still retains his own free will and that his thoughts are his own; Satan is not in on everthing. From this discovery he begins to formulate a way out of Hell. With the help of Virgil, Anne Boylen, his ex-wives, and many other guest appearances he eventually finds what he is looking for.

Again, engaging, well written (unlike this review), and somewhat thought provoking. From Butler’s comments on society to the “cameos,” this is one of those books that you read the first time for the content and the second time to pick up all of the humor you missed on the first pass. Kind of reminds me of An Evening of Long Goodbyes and Good Omens (funniest book ever, and I missed 99 percent of the British humor).

So yeah, that is it on this one. I would read Olen’s other titles. In short, thumbs up — from my perspective. Oh yeah, one problem. The Kindle version was kind of jacked up. The ‘y’s were cut off at the bottom and would show up in random places leading to confusing formatting at times. And that is my only gripe. On this topic.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of HarperJay’s reviews, check out the blog.