a man and a bulldog on a road trip through hell and memories with nothing left to lose…
such a tiny book to be so sad and yet so funny. and the humor and the pathos both largely come from a situation the author himself must be all too familiar with: a writer—who has had some success, but not the kind that matters—the commercial success:
Readers wanted more mainstream material. They didn’t want sentences that sounded like poetry. No one read poetry. No one liked poetry. This wasn’t the fucking Renaissance.
because, yes, tom piccirilli writes heartbreakingly lyrical sentences, in all three of the books i have read by him, and yet he is largely unknown; a publisher-hopper with a cult following but no real name-recognition. and that is a shame.
you can sense the bitterness, which is undercut by humor, in his author-character:
“Anyway, they balked because they felt it wasn’t commercial enough.”
“Do we even know what the fuck that means?”
“It means not enough middle-age women or tween girls are going to like it.”
“Is that the only audience left?”
“The only one that counts.”
ohhh, it is sad and true, both.
his character is at the end of his rope. he has been left by his woman, evicted, and has pawned off all that he owns, including his
literary awards, which have been tagged “paperweights” or “bookends”
he has seen the remaindered copies of his books stacked at the thrift store and being sold, or not, for a quarter each.
this is the heartbreaking state of literature.
and i hate to be the person who transcribes the paragraph from which the title is taken because it’s a bit gauche, but hey—thanksgiving wine makes a girl do gauche things, and i think it is quite lovely.
There’s a poignancy to it that’s lacking in most of your other novels. You’re writing from the marrow. I can feel every shallow cut you’ve ever suffered in it, all of them still bleeding, tearing wider and becoming deeper. You can die from a paper cut if it becomes infected. That’s what I feel in your words now.
there is a feverish desperation in the struggle to overcome the shit life flings:
Wasn’t there anyone anywhere who would just let you go on your way without making you try to explain yourself? How could you articulate what you didn’t understand yourself?
and that’s what this book is: a rising up over hardships, a quest for self in all the emptiness, a howl of stubborn existence.
I didn’t want to fight a cop. I didn’t want to fight anybody. I wanted to be left alone, but I couldn’t even walk down a street in the south Bronx with an illegal gun packed in my bag without some bastard with his whole shitting life in front of him and the power of right and might on his side bothering me.
so this holiday season, i am going to be thankful for my health, and i will share this link with you to help tom piccirilli, who does not now have his health, and also be thankful for my taste in books, that i can help the struggling authors; the ones who might not get the same kind of publicity as the ones the tweenies are glomming onto. because there are so many secret gems which unfortunately are often the ones that get remaindered because they lack mainstream appeal. i have no problem with the mainstream, but frequently the tributaries are more scenic.
buy this book direct from czp, and help piccirilli pay some medical bills:
or use one of these links:
help a brother out.
and read some of his books.
they are worth it.