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Every Shallow Cut
Tom Piccirilli
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Every Shallow Cut

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  329 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
He's nameless, faceless, and has nothing left to lose—and now he has a gun.

Alone except for his beloved bulldog, Churchill, a despondent man who's failed at his career, his marriage, and his own simple hopes makes his way across the fierce American landscape and the spectacle of his own bitter past. As he heads home to his distant brother, he witnesses various tragedies an
ebook, 164 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by ChiZine (first published 2010)
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Jun 10, 2015 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: czp

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
Richard Vialet
Jan 11, 2016 Richard Vialet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in true noir fiction
"I was three days into my life as a homeless loser drifter when they broke my nose and dropped me on the street in front of a nameless pawn shop. I hit like two hundred pounds of failed dreams."
This sad and heartbreaking book is essential psychological noir stripped of any flair or excess. Anyone interested in writing a portrait of despair and anguish and exploring a character at their lowest point should give this a look. It follows a mid-level writer who is critically-praised but could nev
Nov 24, 2012 Lou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main protagonist is a writer who has lost it all in a time where it's make or break for people, he is literally broke right down to a royalty cheque for $12.37. This is about a very human struggle and a man's burden that he did not do it right with his family, his profession and his home all gone to the dogs, one consolation is that at least he still has his dog and a car, and now is in possession of a deadly weapon.

What is he going to do? Where will the road end?

That's the pondering quest
Aug 07, 2015 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night, lit
"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."

Every Shallow Cut starts with a homeless guy getting beaten up by three meth heads, fighting back, stealing their money, buying a gun and taking a road trip. With sentences so bleak, so black, so melancholy, so poetic, so raw and natural that I was immediately infatuated with his protagonist and his journey in to the depths o
Mar 04, 2011 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tom refers to his mesmerizing new book, Every Shallow Cut, as a "noirella" (a noir novella). It is a shame that more publishers (or more mainstream publishers) don't publish novellas. When done correctly, they pack quite a punch. Tom takes full advantage of the form here, as ESC is meant to be experienced in a one-to-two hour sitting. It's no accident, I think, that the length-of-read is essentially movie-length. We're so used to our entertainment being chunked out to us in that format, part of ...more
This is so damn good it simultaneously makes me want to write my ass off and to quit writing. When the history of 21st century noir is written there is no way this novella isn't in the top echelon. Heck with opening a vein, he opened arteries.
What a dark book this is! I had guessed that from the synopsis itself. Yet, Evey Shallow Cut still took me by surprise.

Every Shallow Cut revolves around a man who has failed everything in his life. His books aren't making any money, his wife has left him for another man and no one seems to need him. His dog, Churchill, seems to be the only one who wants to be with him. He has lost everything that's there to lose. As the narrator approaches complete breakdown, he undertakes a journey, with just a
Mar 19, 2011 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was happy to see one of Piccirilli's "noirellas" end up in print (he's put out a number in the digital over the last year) so that I could lose myself in pages - rather than screens - of his writing again. I read this one in a single sitting, and when I got to the parts about the flood and the diner, or the friend who lives in the Bronx in a building with a big, red, metal door, I felt a warm glow: this is the writing that Piccirilli just nails - when his words take over and capture sadness an ...more
Nick Cato
Mar 21, 2011 Nick Cato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Piccirilli's latest noir tale is told from the point of view of an unnamed man who we learn is a mid-list author who has lost everything: his 2nd wife, his house, and apparently most of his readership. He lives in a car with his dog, Churchill, and decides to take a cross-country trip back to New York to visit his older brother.

Before he leaves Colorado, he hocks some of his final belongings at a pawn shop and purchases a .38 with some of the money. After a long, tiring trip, his brother is surp
Sara Gran
Mar 07, 2011 Sara Gran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is everything noir should be--it cuts very deep and hits the exact spot. Brilliant, dark, and haunting.
Jul 07, 2011 Gef rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One good way to enticing me to read your book is to put a dog in it. One good way to repel me is to put a cat in it. Tom Piccirilli opted for dog. My kind of author.

This isn't a story about a dog though, even if it is an adorable old bulldog named Churchill. It's about an author at the end of his rope. He's lost his house, his wife, his career, and the story starts off with him being beaten and robbed of his few remaining possessions in front of a pawn shop. All he has left is his car and his do
May 09, 2011 Traci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"He's nameless, faceless, and has nothing left to lose - and now he has a gun."

Wow! How can you not want to read a book with that as the first line on the back cover? I had picked this for the branch quite a while back, so it took me a minute to recognize it when it finally arrived (sort of like when I add books to my Amazon Wishlist, then forget why months later). I read the whole back cover, then started flipping through it while I did our usual processes for checking in new books - and before
Apr 30, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, Officer High School Security Guard, I’d like to report a crime. Go inside and find my guidance counsellor, grab him by the collar and shake him until his back molars crack to pieces. Rap him upside the head with a dictionary. Tell him he shouldn’t perpetuate the fallacy that we can all be whatever we want to be. That all we have to do is to achieve it is want something badly enough and work diligently enough. Spray his eyes and watch him flail screaming across his desk. Tell him to find a n ...more
Tim Niland
Apr 11, 2011 Tim Niland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dark, dark read for our dark times. The narrator of this novella has lost it all, his house, his bank accounts, his wife, and is slowly losing his mind. All he has left is his dog Churchill, whatever possessions he can hock at the local pawnshop and his car. Headed east from Denver to Long Island and his brother's home, what we get is something akin to Travels With Charley in reverse. As he travels the country, stuck in a near biblical flood subsisting on junk food, his mind continues to gnaw ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011

Tom Piccirilli’s gritty noir novella, Every Shallow Cut, slices to the bone with its portrayal of a down-on-his-luck man descending into madness. The book’s short length, lightning-fast plot, and unreliable narration combine for a white-knuckle experience as the protagonist loses his grip on life and reflects on the agony of disappointment.

Every Shallow Cut tells the story of an unnamed writer who barely recognizes himself as he plunges into insanity; down
Allan Leverone
The nameless first-person narrator in EVERY SHALLOW CUT has lost everything. He's a has-been writer who never was, carrying around his last uncashed royalty check for $12.37 like a talisman. His wife has left him, his home has been foreclosed, his books aren't selling, his pride is gone.

When a group of punks mug him on the street, the narrator snaps, taking down all three young men and stealing their money. With nothing holding him in Colorado, his ex-wife's home, he starts a cross-country trek
Daniel Vlasaty
Jan 20, 2012 Daniel Vlasaty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not stop reading this book. It was short enough to be read in almost one sitting, but I was sneakily reading it at work, so it took me a little longer than it might have otherwise. This novella is powerful. It is a story of desperation, of a man that has lost everything and just wants to go home again. I can feel that this story is going to stay with me for a while.

The nameless narrator is a failed writer. His books are being sold in thrift shops for quarters, and they’re still not sell
Marie Sexton
Jun 25, 2016 Marie Sexton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” I suspect Tom Piccirilli bled a hell of a lot onto these few pages. You get the sense that he dumped a lifetime of frustration into this little novella. The man could gut you with a sentence, but he probably went to his grave (and way too soon) with the phrase "not commercial enough" echoing in his head. This is a quick read, but absolutely worth it. Tragic, but beautiful.
William M.
Jul 30, 2011 William M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Tom Piccirilli is in top form with "Every Shallow Cut". This guy is a writing juggernaut of talent. Book after book, he is consistently better than any of his peers and it is truly a joy to read his stories. His prose is crisp and biting, and the spontaneous violence keeps you on the edge of your seat. Perhaps his greatest strength (although he is powerful in all areas) is his wonderfully realized characters. The pain they endure is so heartbreaking and real, you almost don't want to turn the pa ...more
Scott Emerson
Mar 13, 2012 Scott Emerson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EVERY SHALLOW CUT ranks among Tom Piccirilli's best work. For some of you, that's all you need to know.

The nameless narrator, a midlist writer recoiling from a stalled career and failed marriage, finds himself adrift in a merciless economy with litte more than his trusty bulldog and a pawnshop pistol. Traveling cross-country to seek help from his estranged brother, he embarks on a secondary journey through his past and a headspace that grows increasingly bleak.

As abrupt and vicious as a kick to
May 01, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never read this author before and I must say I was very impressed. He writes in such a way that keeps you glued to the pages. This was a very dark read, but also very enthralling. The main character has some serious emotional issues and you can't help but think, 'how would I react if I was in his position?'. Although he wasn't making the best decisions, I still felt some sympathy for him and wanted to see if he was able to get the help he needed by the end of the story. Did he pull the tri ...more
Nov 15, 2012 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pardon the language but my mind has been thoroughly f**ked thanks to this book. After finishing it I didn't even know what happened to me. Talk about going along for the ride. I think the author had me right where he wanted me for most of the book. There was one part that I laughed uncontrollably at and it was perfect. I didn't give this book a five because I still don't know what's going on and I'm not sure what to make of that. Maybe I will up it a star later. Great fast read. Be prepared and ...more
Apr 29, 2011 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a brutal read. The protagonist, a novelist for whom the phrase "down on his luck" seems far too cheery, drives across the country to revisit his childhood home. Piccirilli's writing is evocative, and I found myself occasionally having to stop reading, pause, and take in what I'd just experienced.

Definitely not a book for the easily depressed, but a great example of how an author's worlds can create characters and situations that "live" beyond the written word.
Jul 16, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, library
I got a couple of short mysteries from the library. This is the first book by Tom Piccirilli that I've read. It was quick, dark, and heart-wrenching, a reflection on the difficult times in which we live, but also on the struggle to maintain our hopes and relationships in the face of disappointment. There's a meditative quality to it, despite its brutality. I'll be thinking about it for a while, I can tell.
Read it for its wonderful restraint...this will sound like an odd comment if you've read the book, given its subject matter: a man going off the rails! Tom Piccirilli has really peaked my interests with this strong and understated novella; I'll have to read more of his work. Readers expecting "Noir" will most likely be disappointed, I'm happy to say.
Mar 18, 2011 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Paul Tremblay's review of this book is so spot on that there's nothing I could add, so I'll leave my review as simply that this is a great book, one that has more honesty and truth to it than any 10 big fat commercial bestsellers combined.
Nik Korpon
Aug 07, 2011 Nik Korpon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, excellent book. Gritty and heartfelt and every sentence sings off the page.

Full review at Spinetingler Magazine, right here.
Nov 14, 2014 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chizine_own
Of all the ChiZene hardcover books i have this was the hardest one for me to find. It's sad, It's grim, it's funny and way too short. Or maybe not, perhaps it's just right.

This is copy 50 of 55 signed numbered copies.
Jan 10, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dark and desperate glimpse into a man's life as goes down the toilet. Besides his bulldog, nothing remains. A road trip to the past reveals no hope there. This felt like real despair.
Aug 02, 2011 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Review "on the fly":

A dark "Noirella"....a meditation on personal and professional failure....Marriage gone bust...Career permanently on the rocks (save the twist)

Our nameless hero is homeward bound, reluctantly....after a failed marriage and a the company of his bulldog Churchill

Lots of pent up rage, accompanied by a case of know this guy is circling the drain.

At first, I would have called this a Stephen King type Road Novel....given his pencha
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