"When We Join Jesus in Hell" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Delirium Books
Written by Lee Thompson
2012, 118 pages, Fiction
Released on September 11th, 2012
There was a time in my life that I hated poetry. Hated it. I saw absolutely no need for it other than to use it in an attempt to work your way into some pants. Other than that, I found it pretty useless. Over the years, however, I've come to the conclusion that my hatred for it was pretty baseless. I mainly didn't like it because its lack of structure (and maybe, just maybe, some of the assholes I've come into contact with who claimed to be poets). And as I've written (albeit reviews) more and more, I've really come to appreciate the word play in poetry more than I ever thought I would. That doesn't mean I read poetry...I don't. I still can't stand its structure. But I no longer hate it.
So what does all of this have to do with Lee Thompson's When We Join Jesus in Hell? Because all I could think of when I read this novella is how poetic it is. Not in the sense of poetic justice, but rather Thompson's amazing prose that moves and flows like poetry, but with a normal structure I can live with. It's unnatural.
In When We Join Jesus in Hell, our main character Fist comes home one evening to find his wife having sex with another man. The problem is, it's far from consensual. Through a series of heartbreaking scenes, all happening within the first few pages, we follow Fist on his journey to track down the man who raped his wife. The plot is actually far more damaging then rape, though, but I don't want to spoil anything more than that, as it will take power from this book and that wouldn't be fair to you or Thompson. But know this: expect an asskicking from this novella.
When We Join Jesus in Hell is not a fun read in the sense of a happy ending. There is nothing joyous to be found. It's like The Road. Or Stakeland. It's a depressing trip through pain and sorrow. But like the two mentioned, even though the journey is bleak, it's still a compelling one. And that goes back to what I was saying about Thompson's amazing prose. You really want to stop reading, but you can't. You need to know what happens. You need to know how this ends. You just need to know if there is vengeance. It's like a scab that you pick before it comes off naturally. It hurts like hell, but you have to get a good look at the horror underneath.
I guess you may be asking yourself at this point, "But is it horror or not?" I admit, my intentional vagueness of the plot as not to spoil it doesn't really help either. But I assure you, this is horror. There are parts that will seep into your brain and just...bother you long after you have read it. I for one will not look at a shopping cart the same way again.
Lee Thompson has really delivered a terrific piece of work here. When We Join Jesus in Hell is one of those reads you want to recommend to everybody and nobody. It's so well written that it demands to be read, but it's so emotionally crushing you don't want the person you recommended it to coming back yelling at you for suggesting such an awesomely painful novella. Ultimately, it's easy for me to recommend. Maybe it's the sadist in me that enjoys the pain some people will feel reading it. Maybe it's the child in me that says, "Hey, if I felt sorrow, you should too!" Or maybe it's the simple fact that When We Join Jesus in Hell is a great story and should be appreciated by all who can handle it.