Tom Piccirilli

Terminal Fright Press / 564 pages / 1st edition (1999)


Piccirilli… Piccirilli… Now, where have we heard that name? Could that be the same Piccirilli who introduced us to the nauseous, but oddly endearing character of Fishboy Lenny in the Going Postal anthology? Really, could there be more than one? Can you say “alleluia” for me one more time?

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That’s right: Fishboy Lenny is back and he’s brought a few of his mutant contemporaries along for your reading pleasure.

Don’t worry; I’m not going to spoil the surprise for you, but I will direct you to “Passing Through” and “He Plants His Footsteps In The Sea” to meet some of his other ‘creations.’ Gosh, you’ll be glad you did. In a collection crammed full of the damaged and the deformed, Piccirilli’s oddities curiosities freaks stand out — not for their abnormalities, but for the protective feelings they inspire. Experience the surprising appeal of these creatures.

Piccirilli has a talent for developing empathy with the strangest creatures. See how long it takes you to grab a gun and climb up on the roof with the good folks “On Oswald Avenue.” Maybe you’d be more comfortable crawling under the bed with Tangera, hiding from “The Hound Of God.” If not there, then there might be room for you at The Works.

This might be a good time to warn you that this is a decidedly adult collection — there is gore and violence aplenty and even one bit of erotica that is the only predictable piece in the book.

Fans of the Self stories will want to jump right in with the nameless necromancer and his nasty, little familiar Self. You may have caught their act in More Monsters From Memphis and wondered where they went after their encounter in the blues joint from Hell. Dealing with tormentors, demons, and leftover gods, the pair is at its chilling best and Self at his ambiguous worst in “Sorrow Laughed.” The more you read, the more you wonder if there is not a malicious Self on your own shoulder.

If you enjoy the Self stories, here is a bit of news that should go down a treat: it appears a novel starring the duo is on the way.

Strangely, strong and disturbing as Piccirilli’s short stories are, it is The Devil’s Wine, a collection of his prose poems, that are the most unsettling. “Children Seen Only In High Beams” is simply a masterpiece of terror. If you don’t shudder at “A Countenance More In Anger Than In Sorrow,” you are made of sterner stuff than I am. I don’t want to know what you’re made of, if “Walking My Dog Through Perdition” fails to affect you. (To be honest, I am no poetry aficionado, but I read through all of the poems in The Devil’s Wine twice.)

Deep Into That Darkness Peering is a treat for Piccirilli fans, present and future. Take this
big book home and curl up in a well-lit corner to devour it; no one can sneak up on you that way.