About the book

All life is a series of stories and Tom Sawyer in Hell is mine. The narrative follows the misadventures of a naive young man who has optimistic expectations about life that rapidly go south as he makes his way through three colleges on two coasts, courts and jails and small town lawyers, strip clubs, a gig as a Park Avenue doorman, hopelessness, psychopharmacology, absurdity, and the struggle to land a corporate job.

Reviews

"TOM SAWYER IN HELL places Peter Black on the scene of new writers to watch. Research into his background fails to reveal any other published works, so this must be a debut novel and as such it deserves a different sort of attention. Some reviewers are calling this novel hilarious as though it were an au courant story related to the plethora of potty mouth guy movies that fill the movie theaters. Some are calling it a modern day 'Catcher in the Rye', referring to the fact that in many ways it could be placed in the genre of coming of age novels. For this reader it is neither. Not knowing the author's background, the book can only be judged on its own merits, and as such it seems to be not a shallow batch of tales of an off center young man, but rather an astute observation of how the progeny of the Baby Boomers are finding their way through the messy, confusing, contradictory world we gave them. Yes, there are some moments of comedy (every good serious evaluation of the times needs the emotional relief recognized by writers all the way back to the Greek playwrights), but there is much more here than the outline of the book suggests.

Peter Black states his vision of this book as follows: 'All life is a series of stories and Tom Sawyer in Hell is mine. The narrative follows the misadventures of a naive young man who has optimistic expectations about life that rapidly go south as he makes his way through three colleges on two coasts, courts and jails and small town lawyers, strip clubs, a gig as a Park Avenue doorman, hopelessness, psychopharmacology, absurdity, and the struggle to land a corporate job.' That is enough of a description of the content of the story. Interesting and more subtle portions of this novel begin with the selection of the name 'Tom Sawyer' for the narrator: some psychologists now perceive Mark Twain's character as a lad with 'inappropriate behavior', or even ' symptoms of 'oppositional defiant disorder' and 'attention deficit hyperactivity disorder', with the addition of poor decisions and demonstrating an inability to take responsibility for his actions, deliberately ignoring rules and demonstrates defiance toward adults. It is not known whether Peter Black views his namesake from this vantage, but reading the manner in which he makes choices and decisions and acts out his frustrations with the society that expects him to chameleonize suggests that this darker side of Tom Sawyer is what produces the latter half of the title of his book 'in Hell'.

Black's descriptions of the multiple places in which he finds himself - whether that be in colleges, in certain towns or areas of the country or in courts or jails or strip clubs or the corporate world - suggests a man at odds with his environment and his concept of the way the world should be functioning. In Wompsville he sates 'In this townie society of know-nothings locked between two dairy farms, you believe the last person who tells you something. Something is better than nothing It is a medieval place where mental effort hurts, and reason is subordinate to authority'. In working at the hotel Sequoia 'What we all had in common was that we were stuck. They, because of their various economic dependencies and played-out life choices, and I because of my lifelong identity as a student, at least for the moment, no longer existed intact.' And on the road 'The only access points into the surrounding landscapes were the exit ramps that led to oases of gas station grocery stores, motels, and corporate fast food restaurants filled with people who looked like they were eating their way across America...Places of nothingness where no one ventured.'

At the end of this lad's disillusioned road or book he shares 'Nobody wants to help you unless there is something in it for them. It seems like a culture devoid of generosity. There's lot of advice, but the meter is always running. You get half-truths, snippets of wisdom, and a big deal made out of giving you nothing.' If this description of the book sounds the opposite of hilarious, then it is just another reader's version. Peter Black is a far better writer than many are describing him. He has the gift to create unforgettable characters, people that live in the subconscious long after there usefulness in the storyline ends. Tom Sawyer, if indeed he falls into the maladaptive character perceived here, is a red flag of our times. Have we produced 'replacements' unable to adjust to the chaotic society we have created and have we prevented them from achieving the world as Candide visualized it? For this reader these questions and the thoughts posted above make Peter Black a far more interesting new writer than one who simply fills the niche of amusing coming of age book tropes."

( Grady Harp, Top 10 Reviewer on Amazon.com )

""Tom Sawyer in Hell" is a collection of stories and narratives not unlike "On the Road" by Jack Kerouak, although the stories and the characters are perhaps a little more edgy. As the author travels from high school through a series of universities and misadventures he produces a constant stream of observations with engaging detail and texture. Line after line the stories describe the absurd that can be found in the ordinary, and how the absurdity of the ordinary can spiral into calamity. Peter says and does things that many of us would like to say and do but don't have the nerve for fear of not fitting in. Graduating from high school having met and exceeded all expectations, Peter sets off to into the world. Now on his own, the book become a roller coaster ride through his early years as he seeks to make sense of the illogical behavior of friends, faculty, and authorities. How a person with such a solid core of values and education combined with the self discipline of the martial arts can so quickly become at odds with nearly every situation he engages is one of the questions waiting to be answered as you move through the book.

Ultimately for me the book is about the broken promise our families, teachers and society in general make; that if we do as we are told and work hard and honestly we are assured success, only to find that we are truly on our own in a perilous world where the truly authentic are few and far between."

( Jim Andrews, author of The MindTech Principles )

Where can I get some?

Tom Sawyer in Hell is available on amazon.com in both paperback and kindle:

Click here for Tom Sawyer In Hell on Amazon.com