Every Shallow Cut
Chizine Publications (2011)
One good way to enticing me to read your book is to put a dog in it. One good way to repel me is to put a cat in it. Tom Piccirilli opted for dog. My kind of author.
This isn't a story about a dog though, even if it is an adorable old bulldog named Churchill. It's about an author at the end of his rope. He's lost his house, his wife, his career, and the story starts off with him being beaten and robbed of his few remaining possessions in front of a pawn shop. All he has left is his car and his dog. Throw in a steel guitar and you've got yourself a country song. After he's patched up, he pawns off what he can and buys something he believes he'll need: a gun.
Have you ever had an disquieting feeling go through you, one that feels like when you're in a sawmill? That's kind of how this book makes you feel as you read it. There's a menacing shadow over this guy as he makes his cross-country journey to see his estranged big brother. He's not going on a killing spree or anything as explosive as that, but he's a lit fuse. He drives from Colorado to New York to reunite with his estranged brother, as well as his literary agent. Every relationship he has is strained, if not ruined by how his life has been led. The guy, who is never named, is sympathetic on one level for the hardships he faces, but he's not a very likable guy.
The narration is a combination of frenetic ramblings and brooding contemplation. Piccirilli gives you the idea of what's going through the guy's head as it's happening, not much of it pretty. A feel good story it is not, but it wound up being a story that resonated--like that hum I mentioned--and is rightfully earning praise from just about everyone who reads it. It's a novella length work, which is a perfect fit for a story like this, as it lasts just long enough for the story that needs to be told to have its turn in the spotlight. The ending may not be what you expect, but it's about as close to a perfect ending that you could ask for.
If you have any appreciation for dark fiction, then you should most definitely read this book.