'A young girl delicately chastises her uncle returned from World War I: 'You could have written about home ...I don't know. Remembering. About missing the things at home, about missing'. 'Early in Thomas McConnell's story collection, A Picture Book of Hell and Other Landscapes , the work's overarching theme announces itself in such moments of minimalist dialogue, a theme reworked, replayed and reinterpreted through a group of loosely connected vignettes that come together convincingly within the context of the book: that of longing, of yearning, of the not always reconcilable importance and impermanence of human connection' - Charleston Post & Courier . 'All humans are in some sense exiled' - Hugh Kenner. Imagine Chaucer's pilgrims - without a Canterbury. Across a landscape devoid of monumental shrines, they would wander still, having no more alternative than the planet swimming in its system, just as they would continue to talk the stories of their lives. Such pilgrims are the characters inhabiting A Picture Book of Hell . In stories and situations that chime against one another like variations on musical themes, the quiet wanderers in this collection seem all entrained on the pointless quest for the questless point, as one narrator concludes. Two old friends repeatedly fail to rendezvous, save in the last connection of a suicide note. A reluctant bank teller abandons his life and his rented house to take the place of a dead vagabond. The volume's title novella discloses a veteran of the First World War struggling to reconcile the two worlds he's come to know too well, neither of which seems to fit his frame. From Ireland to the New South, whether exiled from home or homeland, from others or their own retreating selves, these characters rustle through their days rather like the series of small and vulnerable creatures that scurry and flee through the landscapes of these allusive and elliptical stories.