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Bats Out of Hell

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  310 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
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 portra ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 6th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1993)
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Mar 23, 2008 Ann rated it did not like it
collection of short stories where almost every one features a bunch of bitter old men. couldn't get into it.
Oct 07, 2015 Tayne rated it really liked it
This book is a genuine goddamn riot. Barry Hannah hits these motherfuckers right out of the stadium time and time again. The best of the stories in here are the best stories I've read anywhere, period. Streets ahead of Saunders, et al, and oh so much fun. But it's not all wild loose swinging energy like his debut collection Airships. Old Bazza has hit his stride here, there's a startling maturity and clear earthy wisdom under the antics, which comes through clearest in the longer pieces (Two Thi ...more
Dec 04, 2014 Bryant rated it really liked it
This one is hard to rate. The stories I loved, I truly loved, big in scope and wild, full of that good Barry Hannah fire I can't get enough of. But the duds were just plain not good. They felt like Hannah trying to throw his arms around something that just kept eluding him between every beautiful sentence. And that's all they were, bunches of beautiful, hollow sentences. These I often skipped or skimmed. It almost felt like a problem with editing, meaning that there was none. A good third of the ...more
Josh Luft
Aug 03, 2014 Josh Luft rated it really liked it
Barry Hannah is always original and compelling. Even when he's seemingly rewriting his own work--the lead story "High-Water Railers" is either a variation of or sequel to "Water Liars" from Airships--or telling formless tales. Formlessness in stories does not have to be detrimental. We like shorts when they're clean and structured, but that's not necessarily true to life. Life is more amorphous. Hannah captures how lives spill, whether following cracks, veering wildly, or remaining inert, in a g ...more
Oct 02, 2014 Bobby rated it really liked it
There are 23 stories in this collection. Several of them are forgettable. 5 are very good: "The Vision of Esther by Clem", "Rat-Faced Auntie", "Scandale d'Estime", "Slow Times in a Long School", and "Tyranny of the Visual".

Then there is the long short story, "Hey, Have You Got a Cig, the Time, the News, My Face?" Dear God. It is perfect.
Dec 29, 2013 Eraserhead rated it liked it
Some really boring and overly long stories, which is too bad, since Hannah's best work usually comes through concision. Still, a few great stories mixed in with a lot of fertilizer. Far from his best writing---the man never really made it through the early 80s in terms of his best output. In breaking free of Lish's insane editing, I think Hannah went a little too far into maximalism, where his normally blistering language feels more bloated than electric.
Unky Dave
Jun 28, 2008 Unky Dave rated it really liked it
Fans of David Foster Wallace will appreciate the liberties Hannah takes with usage and syntax. Hannah is one of the most underrated and relatively unknown (to commercial book stores)writers writing what I consider to be very important fiction. Yonder Stands Your Orphan (also by Hannah) is a refined gem that was well worth the wait.
Pretty twisted, and not in a pahlaniuk way.
Some of the stories were hard to read because of the content.
At least they were very literary, which made me not feel as dirty.
Definitely not a book for the feint of heart or the very pious.
Oct 20, 2010 Thad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At it's best it was twisted, dark, and hilarious. At it's worst it was twisted and dark. I was pretty hot and cold on this collection. The stories I did enjoy made it worthwhile to keep slugging through it.
May 08, 2007 Andy rated it it was amazing
There are roughly 10 near-perfect stories in here and a few that aren't as strong. "Hey, Have You Got a Cig, the Time, the News, My Face?," is flat-out amazing.
Christina Lockard
Sep 08, 2015 Christina Lockard rated it it was amazing
I will continue to read this book over and over again until I die. I love Barry Hannah with my whole soul and I hate him too for doing this to me.
Matthew Hittinger
Aug 02, 2008 Matthew Hittinger rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
We read selected stories from this in a Living Writers class back in 1997. Decided to read the whole book. Good subway reading.
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Barry Hannah was an American novelist and short story writer from Mississippi. He was the author of eight novels and five short story collections. He worked with notable American editors and publishers such as Gordon Lish, Seymour Lawrence, and Morgan Entrekin. His work was published in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Oxford American, The Southern Review, and a host of American magazines and quarterl ...more
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“Let us have it plain: my society is comprised of metal-worshipers. They pray to metal, are owned by metal, and metal uses them; it shoots them, it stabs them. I witness its sycophants, grave zombies, moved about humorlessly as its agents. My minions are spiritually rapt as the ages climaxes in gunpowder. One notes that, upon first being handed a rifle -- by Burton or Speke? -- a chieftain blithely shot one of his own lackeys, expressing radiant joy as the man tumbled dead. Do not stop there, happy Klansman, but watch with me early in the morning as I come in from work: across the street here in the clean "burbs" your white policeman goes reverently to his car with a deer rifle coddled in his right arm like a precocious, beautiful child. This man lives with a pistol on his hip all week, but that is not enough, no, he is devout and it is the Christmas season. His own cowardice, affirmed by the use of guns, would not occur to him any more than the cowardice of God. The gun lobby, oh my peaceful friends, you may hate, but first you had better understand that it is a religion, only secondarily connected to the Bill of Rights. The thick-headed, sometimes even close to tearful, gaze you get when chatting with one of its partisans emanates from the view that they're holding a piece of God. There is no persuading them otherwise, even by a genus, because a life without guns implies the end of the known world to them. Any connection they make to our " pioneer past" is also a fraud, a wistful apology. Folks love a gun for what it can do. A murderer always thinks it was an accident, he says, as if a religious episode had passed over him.” 2 likes
“When you read and wonder, for six seconds, about the random pointless violence of these days, then are blissful it was not you, having, really, a better day, stop and think: Could not these felons be, really, God's children loose, adept, so hungry and correct in our world?” 0 likes
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