Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Deceased (1999) by Tom Piccirilli

The Deceased (1999) by Tom Piccirilli:  The late and much-lamented Tom Piccirilli's early horror novels were uniquely strange. Strange events, strange creatures, strange protagonists. The simplest of plot-lines could suddenly stop dead for disturbingly violent and/or sexual set-pieces. Characters might spend pages immersed in their own poetic maladjustment. The prose would push the limits of the purple and the florid, sometimes going way, way beyond the red-line. 

And it all worked as the expression of someone who wanted more out of the horror novel than simply plain prose and A-Z plotting.

The Deceased embodies Piccirilli's approach to horror. Indeed, there's almost no point describing it in all its pulpy, poetic, weird glory. It's about a young horror writer wrestling with the demons of his terrible past. Some of those demons are deceased members of his own family. There's pathetic fallacy and incest and tips on writing (seriously). There are strange things in the forest surrounding the ancestral home. There's that ancestral home with its weird construction and hideous facade. There are ghosts and monsters and voices from the past.

To borrow a phrase from somebody, it's all a bravura frenzy. It's also the sort of writing that seems to drive a certain type of reader, one looking for the straightforward and the plain style, completely nuts. You're watching a gifted writer assemble and disassemble himself simultaneously. It may not always be pretty, coherent, or even 'good' in a traditional sense, but it's compelling and very human. Recommended.

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