Tom Piccirilli and a Pack of Thieves

I’ve never had the pleasure, as they say, to meet Tom Piccirilli. At least not in the traditional sense. We’ve bumped virtual shoulders through Brian Keene’s forums and on Twitter, I’ve followed him on Facebook. He and his work have always come in high regard. Tom is a working class writer who seems easy to admire. Because of that I’ve always intended on reading his work, to make that call for myself, and like several writers I intend on reading time always seems to stand in the way. I often imagine myself like Burgess Meredith in that episode of The Twilight Zone where all he wished for was time to read, and what happens when time is no longer a factor? He breaks his glasses. And with twenty odd years of eye strain from working too close to monitors, I need those glasses now to read.

When Tom’s The Last Kind Words was released in June to solid reviews and internet buzz, at least in my circle of influence, I wanted to run out and get the book. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t in a position to drop $18-$25 on a book, any book. So it was shoved off to my to my TBR list and I would be able to pick it up who knows when? Then the unfortunate happened.

Tom Piccirilli was diagnosed with a near tennis ball sized tumor in his brain, and he would have to have surgery and follow up treatment. If you’re in my circle of influence, you probably know all this and have been following updates from his wife, Michelle, on Facebook. If you haven’t, even if you have, you should read Tom’s guest post on writer and friend Brian Keene‘s website. It encapsulates the unique experience of facing death, fear, hope and love. Go read “Meeting the Black” and I’ll be right here when you come back.

Powerful stuff, wasn’t it?

Since the announcement there has been an outpouring of support from the community, and any doubt that Tom is loved, respected, has been overshadowed many times over. From notes of well wishes, offers of publishers to donate proceeds, to a rise in sales, and the many donations Tom and his wife have received.

Being in a little better place, I purchased The Last Kind Words and contributed a small token to the Indie Go Go campaign set up in his name. What better way to show your support for a writer than to buy his books?

I don’t know if the The Last Kind Words is the perfect introduction to Tom Piccirilli, to his his catalog of work, but as a first time reader I am sold on Tom the writer. I am hopeful that my stockings will be filled with several of his past novels this year, and that I’ll have years more of new material to read once Tom has put Cancer under his thumb.

The Last Kind Words is the story of Terrier “Terry” Rand a rehabilitated thief who is drawn back to his family, a family of thieves, when his brother Collie asks to see him weeks before he is to be executed for a killing spree he committed five years earlier. The same time Terry decided he was done with the life and with his family, putting his past behind him and heading out west to live a quiet life of anonymity. Despite his resentment of his past, of his brother, he is drawn back hoping to answer questions and to have a glimpse of a life he left behind.

Piccirilli deftly tells a story of family, fractured by unexplained and unforgiving murders committed Collie the eldest son. Then he presents us with a mystery when Collie recants to one of the murders, a mystery that would weave its way through the family story to either stitch them back together or unravel them completely.

The story is multifaceted, creating as many questions as there are answers. And I will admit that by the end I wanted more. There are stories yet to be told about Terry and the remaining family in this pack of thieves, so perhaps wanting more is exactly what Piccirilli was going for and I suppose time will tell.

This won’t be the last book I read by Tom Piccirilli, I look forward to reading more and letting him know in person one day just how much I enjoy his work. Maybe next time I’m out in Colorado visiting the in-laws I’ll take an afternoon and drive up for a sit down.

Tyrus Books, Concord Free Press and the Gift of Reading

Gift giving is an important part of this time of year, the Christmas Season, or at least it should be. Yes, we all love receiving gifts replete with mysterious anxiety, orgasmic joy and potential disappointment. It’s a test of our mettle to see just how well we know each other.

Unfortunately for some, many in fact during our current dismal economy, gift giving isn’t as adventurous as we’d like it to be. Pockets aren’t as deep and the savings are pretty bare. So when the opportunity to give, and receive, is available it shouldn’t be squandered.

In my opinion, the best gift you can give someone is the gift of reading. This in and of itself isn’t just about giving books, but giving, passing on, the joy of reading. It can’t be a forced thing, though. Most of 1977 I was indentured to reading because my mother, an avid reader since 4 years old, thought I didn’t read enough. It didn’t take initially, but she did manage to pass the love of reading on.

Anyway, the gift of reading …

Had Tyrus Books not already been my favorite publisher of 2010, giving us books like Seth Harwood‘s YOUNG JUNIUS, Victor Gischler‘s THE DEPUTY and Reed Farrel Coleman‘s INNOCENT MONSTER, the initiative that Ben LeRoy offered pushed Tyrus Books right over the top.

This holiday season you can choose any book from the Tyrus library (if available) and Tyrus Books will send it to a recipient of your choice within the US and Canada. No strings attached. You can read it in full detail at Tyrus Books.

If you ask me, it’s really a great deal. Quality books from Tyrus library sent as a gift and all you’re out is a saw buck, if that.

Scott Phillips, no relation to myself, recently published RUT from Concord Free Press. I’ve been told this a smart, funny and sometimes horrifying book about a dystopian future. It’s gotten some great reviews and it’s on my list to buy.

But wait, you can’t buy RUT at the bookstore or from Amazon, or anywhere at all. You can’t buy RUT. It’s a free book.

Free you ask? Yes, F-R-E-E!

Concord Free Press publishes one title at a time for free. When they’re gone, they’re gone. A catch, you ask? Not really, but yes, Concord Free Press does ask something of you.

From their charity of a free book, they ask that you pass it on. Like that creepy kid from SIXTH SENSE who went on to smoke pot and wreck his care, but is now in college and doing OK. I’m sure he’ll return to acting soon enough.

So, yes, the free book isn’t exactly a free ride. They ask that you take the money, or more, that you would have spent on the book and donate it, pass it on, to a cause or charity of your choosing. When you’re done reading the book, pass that on too.

Give the gift of reading.

Beat the Reaper (review)

3173125It was by chance that I found Josh Bazell’s debut novel, Beat the Reaper. My local stores have a poor track record of picking up first time novelists’ books, so unfortunately a lot of my book buying is online. Fortunately while purchasing another novel Beat the Reaper was recommended. So I took a look at the description and the plot grabbed me.

Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at NYC’s worst hospital, Manhattan Catholic. He’s also a man hiding from his past under the protection of the Witness Security Program (WitSec). That past, a former mob hitman turned informant, catches up to him one evening while making rounds as he runs into a familiar face, a mobster dying from an aggressive stomach cancer. From there we are taken on a roller coaster ride of violence, love, loss and redemption through the eyes of Peter Brown aka Pietro Brnwa aka “The Bearclaw”.

Josh Bazell is a unique voice, mashing up a blood soaked crime thriller with a detailed medical procedural, that pushes you from cover to cover causing both awe and revulsion. I could not put the book down despite some questionable scenes that were both probable or improbable. My favorite bits were the footnotes through out the book that filled in the reader on medical knowledge. I will never forget ‘degloving’.

Beat the Reaper is a great novel debut from Bazell and I can only imagine how he will follow it up. This books is not for everyone with it’s violence and profanity, but with flavors of Chuck Palahniuk, Charlie Huston with a touch of Mickey Spillane it might have an appeal to those readers.

Related Links:
Buy the Book (hard bound)
Buy the Book (Kindle)