My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have a confession to make. I don’t like stories about writers. Or losers. Or writers who are losers. Well, that’s not technically true, as most noir tales are about losers of some sort, and a few writer stories like Misery are interesting, mostly because of the crazed fan with a chainsaw. I am picky with the kind of loser story I like. If you are on a path of self-destruction, that’s fine. If you are crushed by forces bigger than you, that’s fine. If you’re a schlub, I am not interested, 99% of the time.
Two books* in recent memory have been exception to this, and one of them is Every Shallow Cut, Tom Piccirilli’s raw and unflinching tale of a man in a death spiral. A bullshit artist in a world of bullshitters clinging to a crumbling bullshit world, our nameless narrator was happy once, but built his house on the soft clay of imaginary dreams. The inevitable sinkhole has consumed his wife, his work and his life. He trades his last possessions for a gun in a pawn shop, and goes tracking the condescending villains of his personal tragedy, only to find they are as pathetic and devastated as he is. Every Shallow Cut is a subtle masterpiece that lays open the story of the man who’s lost everything and goes looking for answers.
* (The other book is The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte).