Fans will find bits of damn near every genre and style this prolific and varied gentleman has dabbled in (no small feat for someone who has written not one, but two gothic noir westerns). Have you been missing his older, more arcane stylings a la A Lower Deep? Look no further than his entrancing entry from Leisure Press’ Four Dark Nights, “Jonah Arose”. Those with a hankering for the soul crushing morbidity of A Choir of Ill Children have tales like “Thin Skin of the Soul Worn Away” awaiting them. I need not bother mentioning the presence of some good old hard-boiled and grittier than a Texan dust storm crime fiction like the unstoppable “Fuckin Lie Down Already”.
Then there is “Jesus Wrestles the Mob to Feed the Homeless”, an SF crime-noir amalgamation that is everything that bizarro aims for, but, unlike most bizarro I’ve read, manages to pull off the absurd, sublime and all out bannafish craziness in a way that feels natural as a part of the context in which it occurs. Or “Alchemy”, the most singularly fucked up story I have read to date. The physical events aren’t what messed me up (as a veteran of Ed Lee at his worst, I’m fairly inured to that), but the mental and emotional environment in which they occur create something the most Hardcore of writers never approached. And “These Strange Lays” is an oddly rapturous embrace of the simple joys of chaos and sex with crazy people.
In addition to that, I can’t tell you how happy I am that they included so much of his poetry (45 poems selected from his three previous anthologies). As a poet, Tom’s voice is deceptively clear and accessible, spinning concise vignettes full of the same emotional force as his fiction but possessing a depth that is belied by his no nonsense style. For instance, “It Knows So Much Than Me” is an oddly engaging conversation between a man and the cockroach on his chest but a peek under the sheets will reveal a meditation on the shared nature of guilt and grief that can build bridges between incompatible beings. Besides, if you aren’t drawn in by titles like “How to make it Through Friday Night Without Biting Your Tongue in Two”, then you aren’t worth talking to.
Honestly, at this point in his career, if you are questioning the purchase of a mammoth book of Piccirilli’s short prose and poetry spanning from 2000 to 2005, then you might want to read one of his fantabuloso novels before dropping forty bucks on this puppy. Fans should already have a few drops in their pants.
buy it here.