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Futile Efforts / Tom Piccirilli

Cemetery Dance Publications / December 2009
Reviewed by: Blu Gilliand

Okay, just listen to this:

"Sometimes the insanity you leave behind just settles in and waits for a new ear to crawl into."

That’s from “Shadder.” And this:

"Nell moved with the consistency and gravity of the setting moon."

That’s from “Jonah Arose.” Then there’s this one:

"He used glazes between the stratum of color so light reflected through each coating. The pigments appeared suspended, as if ready to break from the landscape and splash free. The physical substance of the picture seemed less important than the fact that it was chosen as a vehicle of expression. Shadow and relief were what counted most. His style was fiery, exhibiting life, movement, and harmony but the boundaries were softened to blurs and smoke."

That’s from “Jesus Wrestles the Mob to Feed the Homeless.” These passages were written by Tom Piccirilli, and the stories they come from all appear in his new Cemetery Dance collection Futile Efforts. If these excerpts alone aren’t enough to convince you of the quality and craft inherent in each page of this collection, I doubt that anything I say will make a difference.

I will go ahead and say this, though – Piccirilli is a prose writer with a poet’s soul. (Oh, and of course he’s a poet, too – an accomplished one at that, as evidenced by the 45 poems that stuff the back end of this collection.) His words cut and wound, leaving marks and scars for the reader to pick at for days afterward. Take the above-quoted “Shadder” for example – it’s a story about a haunting that will haunt you for days afterward. Even through the next few stories, I couldn’t shake “Shadder.” My advice is to read that one, then stop for a while and let it sink in.

Actually, that’s probably the best way to approach all of these stories. Read one, then put the book down and study on it for a while. You don’t want to wash away the taste too quickly by diving into the next story immediately. These aren’t one-note shockers with a twist at the end (not that there’s anything wrong with those). These are layered experiences, ones that are to be sipped and savored individually, not bolted down in one quick gulp.

Piccirilli publishes so much stuff in so many places, it’s great to have so much of it pulled together in one collection. Kudos to Cemetery Dance for gift wrapping some of his best for us – let’s hope they do it again some time.

Purchase Futile Efforts by Tom Piccirilli.

Posted on Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 10:11AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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