Andy Thomas is not only one of my best friends, but for quite some time, he worked at Suburban Home. In addition to putting out 2 fantastic solo records, he has been and in countless bands, some of which you may have heard of (Tin Horn Prayer, The Knew, Only Thunder, Bloodlines, Shining Wires, Ghost Buffalo, and more). Throughout all of these creative endeavors, he found the time to write a book, “Hell is in New Jersey”. Prior to the book being published, he asked me if I’d read the nearly finished novel. I read it and while I did, I could not believe my good friend had written a book that I wouldn’t mind putting on my book shelf next to books I own by Klosterman, Sedaris, and Cometbus. I enjoyed every page of this book and urge you to pick up a copy; I can’t recommend this book enough.
Hell is in New Jersey is inspired by the Etgar Keret short story A Souvenir of Hell. It follows a disillusioned 29-year-old named Dylan who has worked at Outer Shell gift shop for eleven years. The Outer Shell is located at the exit from Hell, where Inhabitants march in a straight line out of the exit, by the gift shop and back through the entrance. This was once a cultural phenomenon, now nobody cares. Fed up with his station in life and, infatuated with one of the dead women in the line, Dylan goes on a quest to leave his former life behind and, with the help of his two friends, sneak into Hell. Battling a throng of incompetent guards, a Devil with a speech impediment and a villain with a fake English accent Dylan eventually completes his quest and later realizes it was a horrible mistake. Hell is in New Jersey takes Keret’s vision and adds a modern theme to it touching on the short attention span of the human race and the disenchantment in most of us.