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)