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Steven L. Peck

Autor(a) de A Short Stay in Hell

15+ Works 358 Membros 18 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Também inclui: Steven Peck (2)

Obras de Steven L. Peck

Associated Works

Monsters & Mormons (2011) — Contribuinte — 14 cópias
Continuing Revelation: Essays on Doctrine (2021) — Contribuinte — 5 cópias
Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Poets (2011) — Contribuinte — 5 cópias, 1 resenha
Cosmos, Earth, and Man (2016) — Contribuinte — 5 cópias
Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry (2018) — Contribuinte — 4 cópias
Moth and Rust: Mormon Encounters with Death (2017) — Contribuinte — 4 cópias
Mormon Studies Review, Volume 6 (2019) (2019) — Contribuinte — 2 cópias
Sunstone - Issue 167, June 2012 (2012) — Contribuinte — 2 cópias
Irreantum - Vol. 15:1 (2013) (2013) — Contribuinte — 1 exemplar(es)
Sunstone - Issue 174, March 2014 (2014) — Contribuinte — 1 exemplar(es)


Conhecimento Comum



More a thought experiment than a story, Steven L. Peck's A Short Stay in Hell takes the premise of Borges' famous story 'The Library of Babel' – a near-infinite library that contains not only every book that ever existed, but every book that ever could exist (including ones of complete gibberish) – and takes it to its logical end. Calculating that this would mean more books on shelves than there are electrons in the universe (pg. 92), Peck goes a great job of extrapolating what a 'Hell' composed of such a scenario would actually mean for one sentenced to it. The infinite totalitarian bleakness of Peck's novella is hard to describe, and genuinely terrifying.

What makes it more terrifying is its sheer capriciousness; those sentenced to this Hell do not know why they have, what they did wrong, nor does the task in front of them seem negotiable. (In order to escape this Hell, they must find the 'book of their life' from amongst the shelves and submit it.) On this front, A Short Stay in Hell is more of a mixed bag.

On one hand, the capriciousness of the task gives a sense of terrifying futility to their lot, a dose of stark existentialism that is daunting for the reader to ponder. However, the hastiness of some of the premise undercuts this and raises more questions than the short book can satisfactorily answer. A demon (yes, the sort with horns) glibly consigns people to this peculiar fate because they didn't follow the one true faith, but the implication that Zoroastrianism is the one truth faith means just about everyone who dies is consigned to Hell's torture by default and through no fault of their own. The task of finding the book is, by any reasonable measure, impossible; early on, it is noted that given the dimensions of the library even writing down the floor number it is on would be a longer number than the book could hold (pg. 2). It leads to a question, why would a God submit his people to this torture?

Of course, the idea of a capricious, or mad, or unfeeling God is in itself terrifying, particularly when such a God has sentenced you to an impossible eternal task that you cannot escape. But sometimes the questions raised by Peck's book felt like loopholes or oversights in the thought experiment, rather than implications, and that is before we even get onto some of the arbitrary particulars left unanswered (such as why everyone in this Hell is a white American – something remarked upon so often I assumed there would be a reason for it – or why they need food, or why the library resets every night).

I suppose the fact that the reader can be left alternately perplexed, frustrated or disturbed by the arbitrariness shows that Peck's Hell is working. Nevertheless, I had expected more resolution, or at least more in-depth consideration of the implications of Peck's world. Given the nature of the concept, I half-expected the 'solution' to be to submit any book – any of the gibberish on Hell's shelves – through the slot provided, because although each book was meaningless, so too was a life (from this existential perspective), and consequently a meaningless sequence of babble would be analogous to the 'story of your life'.

However, Peck leaves all of this on the table. The relentless questions that bobble up, futilely, might not be narratively satisfying, but the realisation that "we can't make a difference – all meaning has been subtracted" (pg. 65) is shown in its totality here. Peck has created a genuine Hell, one that shows the various hells that can be found in infinity, in belief, in time, in people, even in love. It's a profoundly disturbing, mind-destroying scenario, and one can only hope that if there is a god or power at work in the world, it is not cruel enough to create such a place. Peck's Hell is palatable only when safely ringfenced as fiction.
… (mais)
MikeFutcher | outras 15 resenhas | Jul 6, 2024 |
Holy shit this is the bleakest book I have ever read and it makes me immensely grateful that I’m not living it. Goddamn terrifying. Turns reading books into hell.
spiritedstardust | outras 15 resenhas | Jun 1, 2024 |
A compelling and short riff on the concept of the Library of Babel as put forward by Borges. A library is (near) infinite and contains every variation of every written work. It's hell, which is not eternal. You can get out if you find the book containing your life experiences. Milleniums pass. Stuff gets bleak.
Amateria66 | outras 15 resenhas | May 24, 2024 |
This little novel has been stuck in my head (and my heart) for months now. It presents questions about the sense and scale of time and size that I still cannot wrap my head around. It's about being wrong, cosmically wrong, and having to accept it. It's about love, too. And loss. It made me think of my girl and if I ever show you this review, Bethany, I would look for you in the stacks. Forever.
Wordslinger1919 | outras 15 resenhas | Jun 21, 2023 |


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