You can go home again, but maybe you shouldn’t

Rolling right along with the new work in progress. Wrote 1700 words this morning, which is a very decent output given the small chunk of time I have. I love scenes with a lot of dialog. They move along at a fast clip. Remains to be seen how much of it will survive the final edit.

Finished up my review of La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith and posted it to Onyx Reviews last night. A charming novel that has very little to do with the title.

While I was working on the review and the website’s multiple indexes, I watched the Sam Rockwell movie Moon, about the lone caretaker of the Sarang lunar base that is mining He-3 as an energy source for the earth. He’s nearing the end of his three-year stint and looking forward to getting back home to his wife and young daughter. He’s in charge of four mostly self-running lunar harvesters named Matthew, Mark, Luke and (presumably) John, and his every need is catered to by a HAL-9000 clone called GERTY, whose voice is courtesy of Kevin Spacey. It’s hard to talk about the film without giving away its main secret, which is revealed slowly starting about halfway in. Rockwell is very, very good in this film, and is called upon to portray a rich array of emotions, sometimes conflicting, sometimes at the same time. Plus he’s on the screen for the entire film, often alone, more or less. Excellent science fiction, even for people who wouldn’t care much for science fiction.

The funny thing, though, was when I clicked off the OnDemand system, the channel that started playing was showing 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Last night I read Every Shallow Cut, Tom Piccirilli’s new noir novella, due out from ChiZine Publications next week. You’d think that grappling to hold onto the unenviable position of being a midlist writer whose every book has sold worse than the one before (and the first one was no great shakes) who has recently lost his wife to another man and his house to the bank would be rock bottom, but that’s just where Piccirilli starts out with his protagonist in this grim story.

What worse things could possibly happen? Well, three thugs could try to rob him of the few possessions he has left, things he plans to hock to fund his cross-country trek from Colorado back to his home town in Long Island, where he will have to throw himself on the mercy of his brother, with whom he’s never gotten along. For starters. There’s famine of sorts and a real-life flood. The only thing missing is pestilence.

If there’s one profession that isn’t recession proof, it’s being a writer. Though his books have won numerous literary awards (the trophies and statues were pawned long ago), he’s never hit the bestseller list, much to his mother’s dismay. Before she died she used to remind him regularly that she always checked the list and he was never there. His most recent royalty check was for $12 and change.

He (the protagonist is never named) is writing again, though it’s something like trance writing. He has no idea what he’s putting down on the legal pads and he can’t read his own handwriting. Maybe it’s the most brilliant thing he’s ever done, or maybe it’s just another version of the rage fantasies that are filling his head. He acts these out a couple of times: a poverty diet has left him in decent fighting shape. Everything is crashing down on him, and only his dog Church remains loyal, though the narrator thinks the dog would have been much better off in the shelter than with him. Nobody in his home town wants to see him, including his brother.

Every Shallow Cut is a relentless look at a nervous breakdown in progress. One person who skims his new manuscript tells him, “You can die from a paper cut if it becomes infected. That’s what I feel in your words now.” Some of the protagonist’s cuts aren’t shallow—they’re cuts to the very bone. By the end of this work, readers will probably be short of breath because of the driving pace and the brutality Piccirilli heaps upon his anti-hero, and which his anti-hero heaps upon everyone else. It’s a slow motion train wreck, and you can’t—don’t want to—look away.

If you’ve never read any of Tom Piccirilli’s stuff before, this would be a terrific introduction. It feels like he’s cutting very close to home with this nameless guy. Hopefully he never runs out of gas.

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