Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers December 3, 2012 - 7:54pm

'Every Shallow Cut' by Tom Piccirilli

Discussion has officially started!

Synopsis: He's nameless, faceless, and has nothing left to lose—and now he has a gun.

Alone except for his beloved bulldog, Churchill, a despondent man who's failed at his career, his marriage, and his own simple hopes makes his way across the fierce American landscape and the spectacle of his own bitter past. As he heads home to his distant brother, he witnesses various tragedies and crimes which bring out the killer in him.

Tom Piccirilli brings us a suspense story for our current struggling times, taken directly from a broken heart. It is full of realism, grit, and a depth of the dark streets that give voice to the fears most of us can barely imagine. The terror of loss, the overwhelming dread of failure, the desperate push towards crime, the horror of missed-out, mediocre dreams. And the all-too-average explosive rage.

About the Author: Tom Piccirilli is the author of more than twenty novels including The Last Kind Words, Shadow Season, The Cold Spot, The Coldest Mile, and A Choir of Ill Children. He's won two International Thriller Awards and four Bram Stoker Awards, as well as having been nominated for the Edgar, the World Fantasy Award, the Macavity, and Le Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire.

Discussion has officially started!

Tom Piccirilli is currently fighting brain cancer. I believe he's gone through one round of treatment now - radiation and chemo. While we can't do much for him the way we're all spread out over the world, I thought the least we could do is read one of his books. The guy is muched loved among our community. So let's do this little thing for him. Also I beleive that the publisher of this book is donating a percentage of sales to help Tom pay for his medical bills.

Publishers website: ChiZine

Purchase the book here

Get to reading!

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow December 4, 2012 - 8:52am

Prepare to feel like an inadequate writer after reading this. I reviewed it at Spinetingler a while back and loved it. 

Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers December 4, 2012 - 2:19pm

Your blurb (which I'm assuming is an excerpt of your review) is one of the things that made me choose this book Nik. Care to link the review?

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow December 4, 2012 - 3:20pm

Here be yon review.

 

Which blurb are you talking about, Pete?

Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers December 4, 2012 - 6:38pm

I just finished Every Shallow Cut a couple days ago and have got to say: Goddammit, man. After reading that, I think I’m hanging up my spurs. Or Moleskine, as it were. I can’t beat it, or really even come close. . . . Flat out, Tom, Every Shallow Cut is a thing of beauty. I could probably go on about ten other things this book does well—oh, and that’s another thing I forgot about: You did all of this in 22500 words? Really? How is that even possible?—but thinking about this has given me the itch to go write something awesome, and that’s about the best comment I could ever give.

It's from the ChiZine website.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers December 4, 2012 - 7:55pm

YAY! I'm going to participate in this one, because I've been wanting to read this, and play in the Book Club.

 

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts December 4, 2012 - 8:05pm

Read this last year. What is it, like 78 pages or so? Wonderful book, quick read, with lots of things to discuss within.

Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers December 4, 2012 - 10:06pm

When I was researching Tom's books, they all seemed pretty short. Has he written anything lengthier? Or are all his books under a 100 pages?

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading Spent AND Mr. Mercedes December 5, 2012 - 1:08am

i'm in too. just got this a few weeks ago.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow December 5, 2012 - 1:29pm

No shit! I never knew that was on their site. Pretty awesome. And yeah, that was from the Spinetingler review.

H.I.Marcuson's picture
H.I.Marcuson from Toulouse is reading a book on spelling December 7, 2012 - 12:40pm

Does anyone know if the kindle edition will play on other ereaders?

Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers December 7, 2012 - 3:54pm

You can get all electronic copies directly from ChiZine if you're unsure.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow December 7, 2012 - 9:45pm

If you buy it directly from CZP, too, I think all proceeds go to Tom's hospital bills. Or maybe that was only for a limited time, Idunno.

LizardKing's picture
LizardKing January 5, 2013 - 9:05pm

I really enjoyed this book. The writing was excellent. There's a real atmosphere that is created when reading the story which you don't get all that often.

I haven't read anything else by Piccirilli but I plan to now. I understand he's written a bit or horror so that should be interesting.

Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers January 5, 2013 - 1:31am

Just finished it. Man, Tom can right. I don't think anybody can deny that he can craft a sentence.

I just kind of feel like it needed something else though. Like story-wise it could have done more.

When I was a little over halfway through with this, I wanted to compare it to The Postman Always Rings Twice. But after finishing it, it still had a similar writing style, but it was way different.

Maybe if I let it sit for a little bit, I'll be able to come up with more to say about it.

LizardKing's picture
LizardKing January 5, 2013 - 9:05pm

Yeah, the story could have had more to it. Not enough finality or something.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Homeboy by Seth Morgan January 8, 2013 - 11:41am

Masterful noir writing. I thought the novella format lended itself well to such slice-of-life open-ended storytelling. I didn't feel unfulfilled, mostly just envious a la Messr. Korpon.

His most recent novel (he's published 20+), The Last Kind Words, is getting raves from people whose opinions I trust, so it's added to my ridonculous reading list. Also, he retweeted me, so, y'know, respeck.

Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers January 8, 2013 - 10:35pm

Yeah, I definately want to read more of his stuff. He has so many out though, where to go next?

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts January 10, 2013 - 3:57am

While reading the first time I did think it was lagging in the middle, particularly like at the point where he's rained in at the motel in like Missouri or somewhere insignificant. Then though I got closer to the end and this minimal action started to make more and more sense until hitting that blistering ending, that last moment that feels just like an endlessly deafening relief.

This is a really beautiful work. Maybe only because it's so super-current but the poignancy of this as a Noir tome really hit home with me. This narrator could be me, or anyone of us, when we wake up tomorrow. Where all the evisceration happens is in these moments where he doesn't take action, where we would expect violence yet it just appears as some sort of grotesque boil on our own skin.

You know there's plenty of writers that have done it over the years, Lansdale comes to mind, Ballard before that and Vonnegut before that, but nowadays when we think of cross-genre we think of these academic, straight fiction writers slumming it in the genre ghetto ("Dancing with the black girls down in darkie town," per Junot Diaz.) But here's a writer who's clearly from "our side of the fence" doing a strict noir and by context of the plot clearly elevates it to a pretty steady and valid literary worth. I think these kind of books don't get championed enough by us genre people when they happen. Just label them as weird genre books, like they're just hideously humpbacked thrillers rather than achieving two different things solidly in one context.

Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers January 10, 2013 - 10:33am

Your post is making me look at it a little differently. Thank you for that.

I think I need to reread this when I have a Saturday or Sunday with nothing to do, and just read it start to finish. I think that's how this story is meant to be read. Life kept getting in my way when I read it and it took me way longer than it should have.

LizardKing's picture
LizardKing January 11, 2013 - 11:55pm

I've just purchased The Last Kind Words. Can anyone recommend any of Piccirilli's other stuff?

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts January 12, 2013 - 12:16am

CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN is the one I hear mentioned most often. It's an unsettling Southernish Noir Horror. I've been meaning to start on his series that I think he's most known for, starting with THE COLD SPOT

 

Tom's had a guest editorial over at THE BIG CLICK and pretty much all his stuff is just the most fascinating thing ever, the first issue though had this essay FAT BURGLAR BLUES that I'd read on the heels of finishing SHALLOW CUT and I kinda saw it as a companion piece.

JYH's picture
JYH from the place is reading the thing January 22, 2013 - 4:08am

[Haven't read the book. Just felt like chipping in on the G vs L stuff.]

You know there's plenty of writers that have done it over the years, Lansdale comes to mind, Ballard before that and Vonnegut before that, but nowadays when we think of cross-genre we think of these academic, straight fiction writers slumming it in the genre ghetto ("Dancing with the black girls down in darkie town," per Junot Diaz.) But here's a writer who's clearly from "our side of the fence" doing a strict noir and by context of the plot clearly elevates it to a pretty steady and valid literary worth. I think these kind of books don't get championed enough by us genre people when they happen. Just label them as weird genre books, like they're just hideously humpbacked thrillers rather than achieving two different things solidly in one context.

I'm pretty fascinated by the literary/genre debate (even though I sort of hate the question "which is better?" I think it's because I've always liked some of both and don't understand why there is a debate. Anyway,) do you think that such books might not be championed because the "genre people" think that it'd be a concession to the "literary people" to do so? I mean, if a literary genre story is especially noteworthy, wouldn't that suggest that the literary qualities are what pushed it into its place of special recognition? Or could it be just the very fact that someone effectively melded two (supposedly disparate) modes of operation? (Like you said, this has been done.)

The literary people acknowledge genre books which they think are literary enough; certain genre books are included in the educational canon. But genre folks don't conversely give special favor to literary books which exhibit genre qualities. I mean, some horror writers enjoy Poe and Shelley, some don't. Some literary writers enjoy Vonnegut and Huxley, some don't. Are Poe and Shelley mainly genre or mainly literary? Likewise Vonnegut and Huxley? Is it your fans who determine your place on the shelves, or the academy?

Ultimately, I think the sides in this debate aren't near enough to being actual "teams" for there to ever be a true battle, and certainly not a victor.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts January 22, 2013 - 12:27pm

Could well be that acknowledging certain books for successfully crossing genre boundaries could be seen as diminishing the literary worth of other books. I've been reading those Jack Reacher books and just on Lee Child's delicate prose alone they're something that shouldn't be ignored, though I don't think anyone would put them on the same level as straight fiction books. Or maybe genre guys read enough of these good multifaceted thrillers that they're not as significant, but that non-significance is really the point to make, right?

I'm just really interested to see how this'll reflect on the next generation of professional writers. We live in a world where Thomas Pynchon has written a detective book. Palahniuk and Michael Chabon are basically celebrity writers, and all their books toy with genre in some way. Joe Lansdale or Stephen Graham Jones or the like, names that maybe we know but not the regular B&N browser, can put out a strict horror book one month and a beautiful not-so-pin-downable book the next. So generation coming up now has this clear path that you can write genre and write literary or do both in the same book and be successful. It's pretty interesting. But if the Genre/Literary class distinction is of less concern now, what's the next class war gonna be?

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Homeboy by Seth Morgan January 22, 2013 - 2:42pm

I personally dig that crossover stuff, because it satisfies my deisre for spectacle written well. A page-turner that I can't quite turn as fast as I want because the language is so good and I want to revel in it. Dan Chaon's another one. Maybe Thomas Harris.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts January 22, 2013 - 3:10pm

Yeah, RED DRAGON is some actual beautiful prose. What's some good Dan Chaon? I've read him in a couple two anthologies and have him here on a list to check out at the library while I'm free today.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Homeboy by Seth Morgan January 22, 2013 - 3:21pm

Await Your Reply is the only Chaon I've read so far, and really enjoyed it.

JYH's picture
JYH from the place is reading the thing January 22, 2013 - 10:35pm

But if the Genre/Literary class distinction is of less concern now, what's the next class war gonna be?

They won't be happy until Stephen King is taught at the post-graduate level. [Is he already?]

So generation coming up now has this clear path that you can write genre and write literary or do both in the same book and be successful.

I think this is a good thing.

JYH's picture
JYH from the place is reading the thing January 22, 2013 - 10:43pm

I don't fully understand how/when there became a divide between genre and literary writing. Probably 20th century. Doesn't really matter; novels themselves used to be considered shit by nature, regardless of the type of story and writing. If lit-people want to avoid that happening again, they should probably allow for and embrace the novel's evolution.

JYH's picture
JYH from the place is reading the thing January 23, 2013 - 11:26pm

[It is unlikely that anybody cares, but I wanted to clarify this statement:]

If lit-people want to avoid that happening again, they should probably allow for and embrace the novel's evolution.

That is meant to go both ways: genre-->lit / lit-->genre.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers January 30, 2013 - 1:12am

Back to the book. 

 

Overall, it was a good read, though it ended a little too abuptly for me. It probably ended exactly where it needed to end, so that's just a personal thing. That first page pissed me off because that's when I realized it was in 1st person, and dammit, and it might just be me, but I'm fucking tired of 1st person POV. But it was really the only way to tell the story, and it worked for the most part. Good characterization and the plot, though it was thin, was both logical yet unpredictable. The style was nasty and gritty, just like I like it. I'm eager to read some of his other stuff now. 

3.5 out of 5. 

Pete's picture
Pete from Michigan is reading Good Sex, Great Prayers January 31, 2013 - 5:52pm

I think we fall in the same place on this one Bob. You said just about everything I thought. Except, I still don't mind 1st person. In fact, I still really like 1st person stories.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts January 31, 2013 - 8:18pm

The ending was abrupt in a way that niggled at me but yeah, it must've fell victim to the constricting narrative frame. Reminds me of how Stephen King really dug the ending of The Mist adaptation because, since he wrote the novella as an epistolary thing, he could only hint at what the real ending might be.

I'm got totally burnt out on the 1st person crime voice a good while ago. So fucking samey, even for great, otherwise unique genre writers. If I pick up a 1st person POV book lately it's usually straight fiction, like Philip Roth, and I'm not bothered with it.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers February 3, 2013 - 1:24pm

I'm just convinced that using 3rd person limited can be done with crime/noir just as effectively as 1st person. The trick is setting up the voice for each narrator early on. Ellroy does this, but his narrative oozes with the vernacular and lexicon of the setting. You know it's him telling the story, only you don't care. 1st person has advatanges for pacing and hiding information, but it's so much more fun (to me) to jump from one POV to another and pace that way, creating dramatic irony (when the reader knows something some of the characters do not know) along the way. As long as the voice is consistent for each character, it gives you the freedom to move around, alieviating getting bored with the same old voice.

 

Every Shallow Cut could only work in 1st, and it was well done, so I didn't mind that much. I want to write an Urban Fantasy (aka Horror/Crime/Noir) in 3rd limited that just as gritty and nasty as Ellroy writes, because most of them are not gritty at all, and I think it's because of the typical 1st person POV. Hellblazer comes close, but that's a comic, so there's that.