Read advance reader review of Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage, page 4 of 4

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Beirut Hellfire Society

by Rawi Hage

Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage X
Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage
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  • Published Jul 2019
    288 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Page 4 of 4
There are currently 26 member reviews
for Beirut Hellfire Society
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  • Susie J. (Fort Wayne, IN)
    Hellfire! This Book Did Not Work for Me!
    Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with Rawi Hage before seeing this ARC listed on BookBrowse. What appealed to me was the title. I anticipated learning more about Beirut's Civil War. And even after reading the summary provided, I still assumed the book would provide me with more history and details of this 15 year conflict. Unfortunately, not much. I found myself putting the book down often to search on line for what I had truly hoped to gain from reading Beirut Hellfire Society.

    Was there a plot? I'm not sure. Pavlov, the son brought into the Hellfire Society after his father's death, spends most of his time NOT bathing, smoking, talking to a dead dog, and watching the funeral processions of those killed during the war. A strange cast of characters parades in and out of his home, but why? Well, to smoke, drink, and have sex, of course. I thought as a member of the Hellfire Society, Pavlov might have a little more work to do.

    Between time spent on the internet actually reading about the Civil War, I found myself rereading chapters of the book trying to understand what I was missing. I certainly got the tragedy part, but missed the comedy altogether. Perhaps I just don't understand dark humor. Was I supposed to laugh? Because I didn't-not once.

    I appreciated some of Hage's profound statements on death and the destruction caused by war, but, unfortunately, that was about it.
  • Myrna M. (Chapel Hill, NC)
    Didn't Light My Fire
    I don't like being negative, but I have no choice if I am honest. The first few pages intrigued me--Lebanon, war-time, a free-thinker. Although from time to time an interesting character appears, the book is a series of vignettes tied together by the central character, Pavlov, who is not very interesting himself--he stands on his balcony, smokes, observes. He is cool, detached. His thoughts about those he observes are surface thoughts. The people who appear in the vignettes come and go, no depth of development. This is not a book to enjoy; nor is the basic premise--fire to fire is better than dust to dust--much of a philosophy.
  • Becky H. (Chicago, IL)
    This tale presents the raw outrage, fear, misery, and indelible sadness of a country at war. The writing is excellent. Unfortunately, it is so filled with sex and depravity that I can not recommend this book. After having to force myself to read past the first few chapters, the book did offer some moments of humor (of the black variety) and the final pages did offer some version of hope after the devastation of hopelessness that war engenders. The feelings of the outcast (religion, societal, employment, mental illness, etc) are clearly shown. I had hoped for a better read.
  • Patti P. (Phoenix, AZ)
    I did not get this...
    I found this to be a struggle to read. Perhaps I am simply thick-headed, as found nearly nothing of note to positively rave about. This was a painful journey of reading, and I only finished it because I appreciate being given the chance to read it and enjoy it. I am, however, interested to learn what others liked about it. For me it seemed that the author used graphic scenes just because he could; for they provided no substance for this reader/reviewer.
  • Lola M. (Renton, WA)
    Blunt Force
    My soul has been bludgeoned by the blunt force of a word hammer. Beirut Hellfire Society takes on all that is wrong with religion, gender bias, class, culture, vices, mental health, and more. It's a virtual spewing of ugliness, hate, and madness taken to the point of death over and over. Every time there is hope it gets ground up and spit out in long, rambling sentences resembling the conversation of the drunk on the stool next to you who keeps leaning in with his sad alcohol-sweet breath, sad eyes and soft hands ... and won't stop touching your knee, in a dive bar, at 4am.

    There is no grace in the characters and absolutely no point of reference for empathy to smooth the rough pages. Beirut Hellfire Society is depressing in its insane self-righteous attempt to wax philosophical as an excuse for perpetuating never ending hell on a street in war torn Beirut watched by a crazy man in a half empty house and dominated by a cemetery. Not even the dogs survive. I need a shower.


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