‘Hell goes round and round. In shape it is circular, and by nature it is interminable, repetitive, and nearly unbearable.’ That comes from Flann O’Brien’s comic masterpiece The Third Policeman and it’s the Jesuitical precision of ‘nearly’ that comes as a jolt. Similar, exquisitely calibrated degrees of suffering occur with satisfying regularity in David Hayden’s debut short-story collection. Twenty infernal episodes play out in a high-definition afterlife featuring the repetition and interminability that come with the territory.
We open with ‘Egress’, a virtuosic account of a nameless man plunging eternally from an office building without ever hitting the fast-approaching ground. It may remind us of the playwright in Borges’s short story ‘The Secret Miracle’, about a firing squad and time stopped in its tracks. The Everyman in