Wednesday, September 9, 2015

EVERY SHALLOW CUT by Tom Piccirilli

"I was three days into my life as a homeless loser drifter when they broke my nose and dropped me on the street in
front of a nameless pawn shop. I hit like two hundred pounds of failed dreams."
This sad and heartbreaking book is essential psychological noir. Anyone interested in writing a portrait of despair and anguish and exploring a character at their lowest point should give this a look.  It follows a mid-level writer who is critically-praised but could never find commercial success, and after dwindling sales, the collapsing economy, and the loss of his wife and belongings, is on the verge of (or in the middle of) a nervous breakdown and decides to take a roadtrip to visit his brother in Long Island. And to make matters worse, some dumbass actually sells him a firearm at the beginning.

There's something so honest about everything in this book that it was a little uncomfortable to read it. Piccirilli managed to pull out more emotion in me in a few paragraphs of this noirella than some writers do in 600 page novels. Every page of Every Shallow Cut is filled with what everyone loves about David Goodis's writing when he's at the peak of his talents. I believe that anyone that has a passion in the creative world will be able to relate with this main character whether you want to or not. Benoit Lelievre, my Goodreads buddy and succinct writer in his own right, said it best on his blog review for Every Shallow Cut: "You can't turn your back on its protagonist because you're the only thing he has left, the reader of his tormented masterpiece and you can't really bond with him either as he's stuck in a place you don't want to be." That's one of my favorite quotes ever from a book review and such a great summary of what real noir is. 

And this book is even more heartbreaking once you realize how meta and biographical it might be; when you think of the fact that Piccirilli himself was a prolific, award-winning writer that passed away before finding real commercial success. When you think of him writing this out of his own frustration and during particularly dark times, it takes on even more meaning. Instead of dedicating the book to a friend or loved one, here's Piccirilli's dedication: 
"For everyone with an unfulfilled hope, a mediocre dream, a half-forgotten love, a vague regret, a thorn of disappointment, an average fantasy, a fear of failure, a ghost that walks the midnight corridors, Every Shallow Cut is for you—"
Read this if you're looking for amazing writing and an affecting story. Don't read this if you're not ready for some dark, heavy material, although your missing out on really great work. And if you're looking for a happy ending, you won't find it here.


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