Remembering Tom Piccirilli (1965-2015)
I just came home, checked Facebook, and found out about the death of Tom Piccirilli. I met him once, fleetingly, many years ago, at the Horrorfind convention in Baltimore (if memory serves correctly). But I never got a chance to get to know him well (personally).
I did, however, greatly appreciate his work. The truth is, I don’t like a lot of modern horror fiction. But Piccirilli, at his best, was a master at combining savagery and smarts. Anyone who aspires to work in this field needs to read him. His characterizations of the tormented (and their tormentors) stand at the forefront of the genre.
I’ll give you two specific recommendations. First, I’ll recommend his lesser-known (but fucking brilliant) novella Clown in the Moonlight (think Hubert Selby, Jr. + occult magick…or people who think they’re doing occult magick). Second, I’ll recommend his better-known Every Shallow Cut…a demented, Great Recession version of The Catcher in the Rye. Envision Holden Caulfield reimagined as a 50-something pulp crime writer who’s seen better days — and sales — but finds himself somehow empowered (or…pseudo-empowered?) by committing acts of violence during a brief, cross-country romp.
And there are many, many other great works by him, too. (Those are just the two I love most). He also excelled at the short story and wrote many novels.
Mr. Piccirilli may be gone, but he’s left behind some fascinating pieces of his consciousness for us to hold on to. I’m sure that offers little consolation, at this time, to those who knew him personally. But I think it’s worth mentioning.