Friday, September 30, 2011

Every Shallow Cut



Tom Piccirilli

Every Shallow Cut


Chizine Publications, 2011



The unnamed narrator, once quite a well-known writer in a narrow range, even received several literary awards, remains alone without a home (taken by the creditors), wife (ran to a lawyer), money (books are selling very bad), with only his faithful dog named Churchill. Gathering a few own things in the car, the writer wants to take them to the flea market, helping a little money. Three street robbers who want easy money attack the narrator on the street. The writer sees no reason to live, having lost everything, but something inside him snaps, and now he is fighting back the young scum, seriously beating them and taking money from one of them. Selling possessions and adding the money from the pocket of the beaten punk, the narrator buys a gun, and he does not yet know why: whether to self-defence, or to make a suicide. Alone, driving through the country, the writer goes to his brother living in New York, again without knowing why: whether to see him at last, or to start a new life.

Piccirilli, until this book having reputation of excellent plotter, this time dropped the plot altogether aside, writing an excellent jazzy prose. This is, in general, a poem in prose, stanzas about despair, anger and fall into the abyss. The hero has no name, face, desire and reason to live and flies into the abyss, yet less than a week ago he had almost everything you need for life. The unnamed narrator has no face, because instead of it is a mirror in which everyone will see one’s own reflection when will also fall into the abyss.

Something inside of the writer still does not allow him to say goodbye to this world, perhaps a desire to finish the last novel. One of the best scenes of the book, when the author visits his agent, wanting to know the situation with his unsold manuscripts, ends thus:

«I thought of pulling the piece and putting one in his thigh. The underworld heroes of my stories often shot each other in the thick meat of their thighs. It was a way of saying that they were bad but not too bad. That they could handle violence with ease but still kept life in some kind of high regard. I put my hand in the rucksack and got my fist around the revolver. I started to sweat. His laughter made me sick to my stomach. I glanced at the bookcase and wondered which of the names on the spines of the books he was in love with at this moment.
Toppling the bookcase across his office might make a bolder statement than shooting him in the leg, but the case was bolted to the wall.
I walked out past his girl and said goodbye. She wasn't doing anything. She wasn't reading or typing or texting or checking voice mail. She was just sitting there, lost inside herself. She didn't look up. I almost kissed her.»

This novella cuts like the sharpest knife.

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