At the top of the list of authors who needs a lot more love that they have now, you will most likely find the name of Tom Piccirilli. You might know him already, you might not. He's been writing dark crime and horror novels (amongst other things) for about two decades now. He wrote books such as THE NIGHT CLASS (winner of a Bram Stoker and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN, which are still haunting horror literature discussions and will do for a long time. The crime writing community know and love him for THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE and SHADOW SEASON and more recently, for his tiny noir novella EVERY SHALLOW CUT.
It was my first Piccirilli, but I couldn't start at a better place. I think I finished it in one or two sittings. I was literally sewn to my book. The writing of Tom Piccirilli is beautiful, human, brooding and graceful in its own way. He has his followers sure (which I am a part of now), but he's a writer of great talent and an explorer or the dark side of the human psyche. That's why I wanted to introduce him to you today, with this little underrated jewel...
THREE REASONS TO READ: EVERY SHALLOW CUT
1) It's a freakin' novella! I know this has nothing to do with the book, but the form is back with a vengeance and genre writers are making the most of it. Piccirilli himself is embracing it. He published others such as FUCKIN' LIE DOWN ALREADY and CLOWNS IN THE MOONLIGHT. It's short, not intimidating and it doesn't waste any words. It cuts down to the bare essentials of good storytelling. You don't want to risk wasting your precious time on a novel that faffs about? Try a novella and tell me what you think...
2) It's a pure noir, but it has only one cop (for a few pages), one gun, no mobsters and very little violence. It's about a ruined, depressed writer on a road trip with his dog and it's bleaker than most stories where people wield guns at every page. The weight of every actions is getting heavier and it keeps getting worse. That's just what you need for a great noir and Piccirilli understands that very well.
3) It's a sad book. Don't get me wrong, it's not a tear jerker or anything (well, maybe for some people it will be) but it's a sad story that echoes a truth that will reach every one of us. Piccirilli understand very well the mechanics of emotions. There's no bawling characters, but there are people facing their failures and looking deep within themselves. Sadness is a difficult emotion to trigger through page, but this is done amazingly well and should you embrace that you want to read something sad, this is the perfect book.
THREE TOPICS ABOUT: EVERY SHALLOW CUT
1) Why is midlife such a critical time for human beings? Are we raised to expect too much?
2) The narrator and his brother achieved success in very different ways. One has material comfort, the other has become a multiple award winner in his field (writing). Why do you think both are left so unfulfilled?
3) Why do you think the novella opens with the narrator selling his parents' posessions?