Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What Makes You Die” as Want to Read:
What Makes You Die
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What Makes You Die

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  32 reviews
To see more is to find oblivion…

Tommy Pic’s hallucinations come and go and leave sticky notes for him during his bipolar swings. Coming out of a blackout in an unfamiliar psychiatric ward, Tommy Pic awakes to his missing childhood love, his dead brother, his alive family, and a message from his agent that his latest screenplay may yet be his ticket back to Hollywood fame a
Paperback, 153 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Apex Book Company (first published March 19th 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What Makes You Die, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about What Makes You Die

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  61 ratings  ·  32 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had never actually read anything by Tom Piccirilli before, though I’ve always heard great things. Sometimes you just miss a writer. I don’t know why. It’s like their name floats around you, tempting you like a worm on a hook, and for whatever reason you just never chomp. Well, when I saw this in the library the other day and I thought to myself, “Perhaps this is the universe telling me to chomp already!” And so I chomped. And I’m real glad I did.

Tom Piccirilli has such an amazing voice. The wo
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Hollywood screenwriter glamour and glitz is overshadowed by a reality that’s more crumbs and handouts, nightmares rein supreme, dreams a fallacy. Haunted by the ghosts of a missing love and fractured childhood event, Tommy Pic, a b-grade has-been lives in his mothers basement waiting for the next bout of inspiration to drag him from the doldrums of excessive alcohol and depression, but when it comes, the conduit is elusive and forged by a mysterious force.

Piccirilli’s poetic depiction of de
Victoria Hooper

What Makes You Die is a strange book. It’s one of those stories that’s hard to say what it’s actually about. It’s about ghosts, witches, a prehistoric monster living inside a person, and a mysterious self-writing script. It’s about loss, the disappearance of a young girl, mental illness, and a failing writing career. It’s about all those things and yet it’s not really about any of them.

Tommy Pic is a desperate character who seems to be drifting in and out of sanity on the edge of nervous breakdo
This is somewhat irregular, but I’d like to start off this review with a painful confession: I somehow wasn’t familiar with Tom Piccirilli and mistook his new novel What Makes You Die for a debut.

Come back. Stop laughing.

In my defense, so far Piccirilli seems to have written mostly (though not exclusively) in the horror and thriller genres, which aren’t really my bailiwick. The ARC for What Makes You Die came in from Apex Book Company, a relatively small press. It’s a short little book, just 150
Bob Milne
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow. What a wild and crazy ride. If, like myself, you've never read Tom Piccirilli before, then strap yourself in and make yourself comfortable, because What Makes You Die is going to make you supremely uncomfortable . . . while entertaining, of course.

On the surface, this is the story of a writer who has long since lost his grip on reality, and is only somewhat interested in regaining it. Tommy was once something of a success, selling a few novels and screenplays, and even shepherding their tra
Frank Errington
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Review Copy

It's difficult to pigeonhole this new work from master storyteller Tom Piccirilli. Horror? Not really. Mystery? Sort of. Dark fiction, most definitely. Let's go with that. Most important, it's a very good, well told story.

What Makes You Die begins with the protagonist, Tommy Pic, in the bin, strapped to a bed, surrounded by family, some actually there, some dead. Tommy's there because he tried to commit hara-kiri with a steak knife. And that's just the beginning of a wonderful tale of
Feb 08, 2013 marked it as to-read
be my valentine, firstreads program???
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
What Makes You Die by Tom Piccirilli is an odd read.

The main character, Tommy Pic, may share the author's name, but I am assured that all characters and event are fictitious (though to what extent, who knows?). The story starts with him waking up in a psych ward, strapped down to a bed (a commonplace occurrence for him apparently). The last time he woke up with the straps, was a couple years previously, when he attempted to 'hara-kiri' himself with a steak knife. Not because he wanted to die (ne
Anton Cancre
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Because it always feels so personal, it’s hard to separate Piccirilli’s work from the man himself. It certainly doesn’t help the situation when he names his first person narrator Tommy Pic. Of course, he knows that and I’m fairly certain that the bastard is intentionally messing with us (or, more pointedly, me).

Of course, nothing seems particularly clear for Tommy, either. Ever since he belly flopped from near midlist stardom of a sort, he’s been black-out drunk, living in his mother’s basement
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This book came out of nowhere, and the news of its release was nearly as welcome as the news Tom Piccirilli is on the mend. After being diagnosed with brain cancer last year, the guy went to hell and back getting a tumor the size of a tennis ball removed from his skull, then dealing with chemo and all the treatment that entails, and now the ungodly medical bills that are piling up because of the oh-so-wonderful healthcare system down there in the United States. Anyway, Tom is an author with a se ...more
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copy
I finished this book on new years eve and man was I sad it ended. This was a great read, I enjoyed reading about Tommy Pic and the Komodo dragon living in his belly that he decided to hack out and then lost a section of his bowels. Fantasy and reality get blurred in this story about a man whos life is a mess and his mind along with it.

Does Tommy hallucinate and see things no one else can? Does he leave himself post it notes with no memory of doing so? Does he write screenplays he doesn’t remembe
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was a super quick read that kept me engaged from the first page to the last. I thought Mr. Piccirilli's skill with words was surpassed only by his insight into people. For (spoiler-free) example, this is a dark, somewhat bizarre book about a screenwriter so troubled that his being put in the bin is almost a casual thing for him and his family, and yet, one of my favourite passages is the one below where the main character is addressing a group of children (his niec ...more
Dec 10, 2013 rated it liked it
A very interesting and original story about an alcoholic and probably schyzophrenic screenwriter for horror films. The voice of the first person narrator is very interesting and rings true (even if it means reading through some uncomfortable scenes). It works very well as a portrayal, but at some points it gives the impression that the story is more plot-based than it really is, which may lead to disappointment for some at the open ending and unresolved issues, even if (on reflection) this is a ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A sensuous slipstream so thick and real that you'll never know the difference between the impossible and the inescapable. Takes you down into the darkest places but has the magnificently well-timed kindness to let you go at the last sentence.
David Marshall
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an entertaining view of what it takes to write a winning Hollywood script.
Phillip M
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Childhood events can have far reaching impacts later in life and maybe they can even lead to multiple personalities. In Tommy Pic’s case, the story’s protagonist has two personalities, or more correctly, he has another self, a more quiet inner self. His two selves don’t conflict with each other as is usually portrayed in movies. They don’t even know about each other or, at least Tommy didn’t know about his inner self. We know, though, that Tommy’s other self writes very well, maybe even better t ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
****4 1/2 Stars!!

In a word: laugh-out loud funny, pitch perfect writing, a many-layered mystery, filled with quirky characters you'll love.

I looked up into the sky and tried to call down the rain. It was a day when I should have been walking in the rain, with the wind rising around me, the dark funnel clouds opening above me, a mean storm waiting to break. So below, as above.

But there wasn't any rain. The world denied me my tempest. The alcohol gave me a sour stomach. Gideon curled and uncurled
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC copy of What Makes You Die through the Goodreads FirstReads program. I was initially hesitant about this one, pretty sure I had decided against entering the giveaway, but I have to say that this was pretty good. It was dark without being depressing, oddly comedic at times despite the bleak outlook of the protagonist who serves as our narrator.

Tommy Pic’s life has gone down the tubes. Where once he was a rising star in Hollywood, writing a steady string of saleable screenplays,
David Ledeboer
It’s not often I refer back to the author’s blurb before the book, but in this instance, it is necessary. No, not necessary, but required to give mention of it here in this review. The author explains who he wrote the book for and it isn’t your typical: Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son, Bother, Sister, Wife, bla bla bla. He explains that this book is for you, the undesired, the outraged, the outcast and neglected, the failures, fuck-ups, and misfits. (Do you see your proper category anywhere in there yet ...more
Mike Kazmierczak
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book isn't a typical Piccirilli novel. There's no pulp fiction or crime noir that occurs. There's no supernatural elements (though this is debatable). And there's no horror, at least in the vampires, monsters, ghouls sense of the word. Considering though that Piccirilli has said in interviews that he finds more true horror in real life, this novel has tons.

The protagonist, Tommy Pic, wakes up in a mental hospital. Pic is a screenwriter with some success but not much. He also is haunted by t
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have to say right off the top, I have no real idea what genre this novella fits into - fantasy, horror, whatever - but I can say for sure it's one weird and wild ride and just about impossible to put down.

Tommy Pic is a screenwriter who, despite having written some good films, is remembered only for a low budget monster movie which has attained cult status and has spawned two sequels and a porn flick. Then Tommy's career hit the skids, he's plunged into alcoholism, has experienced several psy
Richard Derus
Oct 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: To see more is to find oblivion…

Tommy Pic’s hallucinations come and go and leave sticky notes for him during his bipolar swings. Coming out of a blackout in an unfamiliar psychiatric ward, Tommy Pic awakes to his missing childhood love, his dead brother, his alive family, and a message from his agent that his latest screenplay may yet be his ticket back to Hollywood fame and fortune. If only he could remember writing it.

Searching out the hallucinations th
Michael Estey
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm was surprised the protagonist and main character (told from the first persons point of view) in this delightful Novella is named Tommy Pic. Is this any indication of Tom Piccirilli's real life?

Tommy Pic a screenwriter, with one success under his belt, a low budget horror flick despite other better written screenplays he has written. He wakes up in a mental institution after a failed attempt to commit suicide, a failed attempt at Hara-Kari surrounded by real and imaginary people.

He lives in
Michael Mills
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Tommy Pic is a screenwriter emerging from a serious depressive episode. He cut his own stomach open, spent a long time under sedation and believes there is a dragon living in his stomach. Explaining it like that, you realise how dark a book What Makes You Die is, but strong prose makes it a light read.

Tommy's depression is a buffer against poeticism. This is how he sees the world, with all the discontent that squirms between his life and the version of it he writes. It's a backhand to authors w
John Bruni
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to melancholy pain, no one in the business is better than Tom Piccirilli. This is probably the finest example of this ability. One hopes that this isn't based on a true story, even though the protagonist's name is Tommy Pic. The story hits his usual themes, his usual hauntings. There's just enough personal detail to make a reader wonder and fear that some of these things actually happened to him. I guess the only way to tell for sure is by looking for the scar on his belly from whe ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
It's kinda hard to say with this story is really about. Tommy Pic, author, is losing all sense of himself. Hes an out of control binge drinker. He is writing a screenplay which his publisher loves it but Tommy doesn't remember writing because he was most likely in one of his many fugue states. It's a good story but I feel like its missing something, just not sure what. It did skip around quite a bit which I found confusing at times but all in all it was a good book.
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story. Beautifully written. Tom is complex but not to the point of pretentiousness. Mental illness is part of the story but it's not an issue piece. The humor is self-aware but not self-hating. The story is both large in scale and very intimate. Superb.
Apr 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
i really dont know what to say about this book. the story was well told but it didnt really captivate me. it was somewhat interesting but in my opinion, not that much. i was expecting him to solve his long lost friends mystery. ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? It is Tom Piccirilli. Dark, funny, heartbreaking, harrowing. If you haven't read him, you should.
Sara Habein
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, arc
Full review to come, but this had a promising beginning that petered out about halfway through.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Signed copies of What Makes You Die 1 3 Mar 04, 2013 04:16PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane
  • One More Body
  • The Cambodian Book of the Dead
  • From Dark Places
  • Severance
  • Desper Hollow
  • Macabre Rising: Tales of Man, Myth and Monster
  • Hard Bite
  • Stinking Rich
  • Enter At Your Own Risk: Old Masters, New Voices
  • Those Poor, Poor Bastards (Dead West, #1)
  • The Clearing
  • Sirens
  • Gunshine State
  • Zombie Apocalypse 2012: A Political Horror Story
  • Glitter & Mayhem
  • The Gate: 13 Dark and Odd Tales
  • Frank Sinatra in a Blender
See similar books…
Thomas Piccirilli (May 27, 1965 – July 11, 2015) was an American novelist and short story writer.

Piccirilli sold over 150 stories in the mystery, thriller, horror, erotica, and science fiction fields. He was a two-time winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for "Best Paperback Original" (2008, 2010). He was a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. He was also a finalist for the 20