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Bats Out of Hell Hardcover – February, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his long-anticipated but disappointing second volume of short stories, one of the gurus of contemporary "guy" fiction ( Airships ; Boomerang ) focuses on the red-blooded American subjects with which he has made his reputation--sex, booze, drugs and guns. The visceral description for which Hannah has rightly been praised in the past degenerates here into bad-taste verbosity and sophomoric prurience. "High-Water Railers" concerns fishing and old men, one named Sidney Farte, as they share sexual secrets and confessions of missed opportunity. "Scandale d'Estime" begins with great promise in Kosciusko, Miss. (Hannah's home state), as old reprobate Harold befriends teenage George and takes him to a production of Waiting for Godot ; the story line (which also includes the young man's infatuation with an older woman) disintegrates into short takes on paregoric addiction, attempted suicide, the Klan, and bondage equipment. The best story, "The Spy of Loog Root," pairs the telescope-toting scion of a white-trash clan with the owner of a tobacco and magazine shop in Montana, and shows what Hannah is capable of in terms of characterization and emotional insight. For the most part, though, he seems to have invested more time in pompous, overwritten story titles--"Upstairs, Mona Bayed for Dong," "Hey, Have You got a Cig, the Time, the News, My Face?"--than in polishing the pieces themselves (some of which consist of only a few paragraphs). Half of these 23 stories have been published in magazines; a few aren't ready to be published anywhere. Too much of this volume reads like the output of a writing group that meets in a bar; as the saying goes, "You had to be there." Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Hannah's approach to writing is wonderfully summed up by a character named Harold in the story "Scandale d'Estime." "Scandal is delicious, little man. All we are is obsession and pain. That is all humans are. And when these things go public and are met with howls, they ring out the only honest history we have. They are unbearable! Magnificent! Wicked!" Indeed, there is a fierceness to these 23 pieces (to call them all stories is something of a misnomer) that generates both power and perturbation. In his drive to get to the essence of things, Hannah takes no prisoners. Some readers will find his work misogynistic and offensive in its violence, yet beneath its often tormented surface lies a desperate, almost tender search for truth. Coming out of the Southern tradition, Hannah writes with fervor and, in spite of the violence, considerable humor. He is willing to take chances, to go to the edge, to challenge the reader in untypical ways. Not a "mainstream" work, this book nonetheless belongs in most library collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/92.
- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (T); First Edition edition (February 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395488834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395488836
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,318,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Schuyler Corry on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
All right; I hadn't planned on writing a review for this book, but no one else has, and it definitely deserves one. The characters in these many short stories are all too human, from the man who liberates his wife from her sister only to suffer the consequences of a newly independent woman, to the psychotic cowboy who laughs at his pathetic state and battles a woman who keeps her deformed son under lock and key. The situations are almost all surreal, but the characters seem like people you know, only more honest. Hannah shows us the delight people take from cruelty, but also shows us how these people are no worse than us, and their transgressions simply make life more interesting. It's been a few years since I read the book, but I constantly find myself remembering stories, characters, and even lines. Where else would you find a story about a thinly-veiled William S. Burroughs that becomes a South-American voodoo tale? Where else do you find a story that is written solely to fit to the title, "Upstairs, Mona Bayed For Dong"? Also notable is the one about the man whose friend longs for a tragic ending, but the narrator himself ends up involved with the mistress of a German Nazi in the American South. The stories' endings are also worthy of comment: never does a story end the traditional, fairy-tale way, but somehow the stranger, more cryptic endings seem perfect. I admit that there are a few I had to trudge through, but there are also enough gems to make this a necessary purchase.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dirty Dave 33 on April 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an outstanding read from an old South author that writes about what he knows. Very intersting and entertaining, very hard to put down after I started reading. This a keeper.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Serious Reader on March 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
The visceral description for which Hannah has rightly been praised in the past degenerates here into bad-taste verbosity and sophomoric prurience. "High-Water Railers" concerns fishing and old men, one named Sidney Farte, as they share sexual secrets and confessions of missed opportunity. "Scandale d'Estime" begins with great promise in Kosciusko, Miss. (Hannah's home state), as old reprobate Harold befriends teenage George and takes him to a production of Waiting for Godot ; the story line (which also includes the young man's infatuation with an older woman) disintegrates into short takes on paregoric addiction, attempted suicide, the Klan, and bondage equipment. The best story, "The Spy of Loog Root," pairs the telescope-toting scion of a white-trash clan with the owner of a tobacco and magazine shop in Montana, and shows what Hannah is capable of in terms of characterization and emotional insight. For the most part, though, he seems to have invested more time in pompous, overwritten story titles--"Upstairs, Mona Bayed for Dong," "Hey, Have You got a Cig, the Time, the News, My Face?"--than in polishing the pieces themselves (some of which consist of only a few paragraphs). Half of these 23 stories have been published in magazines; a few aren't ready to be published anywhere. Too much of this volume reads like the output of a writing group that meets in a bar; as the saying goes, "You had to be there."
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