Any narrative that begins “Burn this book” definitely merits attention—unfortunately, readers would be much better off were they to heed this advice.
The novel starts in Hell, so there’s literally nowhere to go but up. The demon Jakabok Botch, also the narrator, introduces us to his sadistic and dysfunctional family. Botch wants to ingratiate himself with his mother by inventing “the first mechanical disemboweler.” Shortly thereafter he is horribly disfigured in (go figure) a fire and winds up with no nose and no lips. Soon Botch and his father, Pappy Gatmuss, succumb to the temptation of steak and beer, but this turns out to be bait from the Upper (i.e. our) World. Although they’re both hauled up in a net through the nine circles of Hell, only Botch makes it up alive. To disguise his demonhood, he wears clothes that cover his devilish aberration, two tails. In the Upper World he links up with Quitoon, an elder demon who’s even more adept at evil than Botch. For 38 years they travel around the countryside, doing (as we would expect) repulsive things like burning people (Quitoon’s specialty) and taking baths in the blood of infants. Eventually they meet Johannes Gutenberg, of printing-press fame, and his wife Hannah, who turns out to be an angel and hence an arch-enemy of Botch and his homoerotic friend. An overfed and puffed-up archbishop is also revealed to be on the side of the devil. During an apocalyptic battle between Hannah and the archbishop, Botch inadvertently puts his finger (claw?) on the problem: “Everyone continued to watch them as they carved up Humankind’s future…the whole thing, for all its Great Significance and so on and so forth, was actually beginning to bore me.” Exactly.
An affected and pathetic narrative—nothing would be lost by confining it to the ninth circle of Hell.