Friday, February 22, 2013
What Makes You Die - by Tom Piccirilli - New book coming March 19th
It's difficult to pigeonhole this new work from master storyteller Tom Piccirilli. Horror? Not really. Mystery? Sort of. Dark fiction, most definitely. Let's go with that. Most important, it's a very good, well told story.
What Makes You Die begins with the protagonist, Tommy Pic, in the bin, strapped to a bed, surrounded by family, some actually there, some dead. Tommy's there because he tried to commit hara-kiri with a steak knife. And that's just the beginning of a wonderful tale of a struggling screenwriter looking to recapture past glory.
I can't imagine how difficult it must be to write a first person narrative from the perspective of a madman with moments of lucidity and pull it into such a cohesive story, but Tom pulls it off and the result is wildly entertaining.
There are many subplots in this story from the screenplay Tommy is working on (but doesn't remember writing), to Eva, the new woman in his life, that he meets at Weird Sisters, a store specializing in Wiccan supplies, to his overwhelming desire to find his childhood friend, Kathy, who disappeared when he was ten. And then there's the Angry Clown who in a strange way brings it all together.
I loved the twisted way Tommy would often look at his own situation in terms of the screenplay he may or may not have written and makes life decisions on what a particular character might do next to further a plot line.
And the prose is just wickedly enjoyable. One of my favorite lines, of which there are so many. "You can sometimes find what you're looking for if you're hunting for the right thing. Usually I'm not, which is probably what brought me to a party in Hoboken to chat with a talking pug." In context that will make perfect sense.
The only downside for me was that I didn't want it to end. I want to know so much more about these characters, but that's certainly not a complaint, just a personal preference.
I debated mentioning the following in this context, but finally decided it was important. Tom Piccirilli has been writing for more than twenty years and has had some modicum of success, even to the point of receiving a number of prestigious awards. Last Fall it was discovered he had a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball, which he had removed and he has since undergone both chemo and radiation therapy. While his progress has been nothing short of remarkable, the expenses are very high. One of the best ways to support Tom is to buy his books. This way, you get a good read and Tom gets a bit of cash.
What Makes You Die won't be available for a few weeks, but put the release date on your calendar. March 19th, from the fine folks at Apex Book Publishers.