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Bats Out of Hell

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  278 ratings  ·  11 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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collection of short stories where almost every one features a bunch of bitter old men. couldn't get into 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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Matthew Hittinger
We read selected stories from this in a Living Writers class back in 1997. Decided to read the whole book. Good subway reading.
Jun 19, 2008 Jimmy added it
Psychotic and long, and delicious.
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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
More about Barry Hannah...
Airships Ray Geronimo Rex Yonder Stands Your Orphan High Lonesome

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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
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