The Distance Travelled 2: A Little Slice of Heaven by Brett Alexander Savory and Gord Zajac
In The Distance Travelled 2: A Little Slice of Heaven by Brett Alexander Savory and Gord Zajac, Stu is a man trapped in limbo. Maybe I should capitalize that like Limbo, because he’s in, you know, Limbo, as in the region between Heaven and Hell. Being a devout atheist myself, I don’t spend a lot of time contemplating the nature of Limbo, not to mention Heaven or Hell, but I never envisioned a place like Stu’s Limbo. Stu’s Limbo is empty—just him and his house, outside of which is nothing but empty space. Everything he needs to survive is in his house—food and booze and whatnot—but, and I suppose this is the tough bit, there are no other people around. To me that sounds like a nice chance to get away from it all, but maybe over the course of eternity it would get a little tiring.
I don’t want to delve too deeply into the story as I feel that would be giving too much away, but Stu leaves Limbo, travels to Heaven, meets Jesus, and travels to Hell, all told in a very irreverent and non-religious way that requires a bare minimum of biblical knowledge (and believe me, I represent the high water mark of the bare minimum of biblical knowledge). For reasons that are never clear, Stu is somehow pivotal in the eternal battle between Heaven and Hell, each side apparently perfectly willing to use him for its own ends, which is highly unpleasant for Stu much of the time. Stu is a very likeable guy, and he reminds me of Jamie Delano’s John Constantine from the Hellblazer series (please don’t think of Keanu Reeves from the movie Constantine), only not quite as savvy. There is an interesting juxtaposition throughout, in that Heaven is a rather dull place while Hell seems kind of like Las Vegas, only run by a pack of hyper-sadistic demons who behave sort of like the mafia. On the whole, aside from the whole 24/7 torture thing going on, I think I’d rather live in Hell. I’m uncertain if that impression was intentional on the part of the authors.
The story is written in a very energetic, crisp, and readable style. It is evidently also a sequel to a book that I did not read, and while I normally wouldn’t hold my lack of having read the prequel against the authors, I do feel that they were overly superficial with regard to many things under the false assumption that the reader was familiar with their earlier work. Stu has a lot of history with many of the characters, especially many of the characters living in Hell (which is apparently where Stu was just before we picked up with him in Limbo) and much of that is only lightly touched upon. There are also several questions I have about being in Hell—for instance, what happens to someone when they die in Hell?—but without reading the first book, I don’t know. Much of the story also feels like it is a simple revisiting of these places to answer questions left over from the previous book—answers to questions that of course I do not have. Finally, while I did enjoy the story, overall, I’m not engrossed enough with it to actually track down the earlier book to read.
Publisher: Burning Effigy Press
Chapbook: 40 pages
Chapbook: 40 pages