Love and torment, lunacy and desire, tenderness and war — the stories in Bats Out of Hell provide a brilliant, dazzling odyssey into American life. Barry Hannah's reputation as a master of the short story, first established in 1978 with the publication of Airships, is magnified in this volatile, long-awaited collection of new stories. Astonishing in range and in the portrayal of the human heart, these fierce and radar-perfect stories give us individuals with whom hilarity and pain combine with true and startling clarity.
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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.
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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Book Description Trafalgar Square, 1987. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110450038734
Book Description Trafalgar Square, 1987. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0450038734
Book Description Trafalgar Square. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0450038734 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1944751