To Join the Lost by Seth Steinzor
About this book:
Seth Steinzor has written a latter-day version of Dante's Inferno. In this, the first of his three-part transformation of the Divine Comedy, contemporary sinners are treated to terrifyingly contemporary variations on the torments of the original Nine Circles of Hell. The book will be of great interest not only to Dante scholars and students but also to the general public, since its depictions of the Nether World are graphic and offered with all the gusto, indignation, immediacy, and not infrequent humor of Dante's original. The follies and excesses of the modern world have never been more clearly defined and excoriated.
Having tried and been unsuccessful at reading all of Dante's Divine Comedy, I decided to give this modern day re-write a shot. I was immediately intrigued by two things that happen immediately; our traveller, Seth meets up with Dante (yes, that Dante) who will be his guide through the nine levels of Hell. Secondly, Seth is not a medieval Christian, as his predecessor and guide was, but describes himself as a "Twentieth Century secular Jewish Buddhist". It makes for an interesting read, knowing that someone of this nature will be traveling through the depths of the very Christian hell.
The book is a brilliant work of poetry and imagery. Steiznor's writing is lyrical and you really get dragged down and sucked in by his prose. I found that not only was I captivated but also mildly horrified at how appropriate some of the changes to the story of the original were. Even without reading the original work, many of us are familiar with some of the images and characters found there; such as Charon the ferryman, who ferries the souls across the river and King Minos who judges and throws the damned to their eternal fates. Minos has been replaced in our age by a corporate office, one of those soul sucking cubicle sorts, which just smacks of sarcasm and made me chuckle despite myself.
It's not all witty and amusing though, as the poem shines a bright light onto the ever present and seemingly ever growing amount of evil that is present in our modern society. There are the obvious, universally recognized Damned such as Hitler and then there is a cast of Damned from Seth's own past. It is these Damned that pulled mightily on my heart strings, for it takes a lot of courage to not only face the demons from your past, but to shine the light on them and their deeds in such a public forum.
To Join the Lost is, again, a wonderful piece of writing. It is far beyond what I imagined a modern day retelling of the Inferno to be and is beautifully composed. The mix of personal stories and universal ones is nothing short of brilliant. I can say with absolute certainty that I am looking very forward to Seth's travels through Purgatory and Paradise after having read about his journey through Hell.
To read what others thought of this work, please click the image above. Thank you to Trish at TLC book tours and Seth Steiznor for the review copy of this book.
To visit the author's website, click here.