Saturday, December 10, 2011

Books: Tom Piccirilli

ThrustThrust by Tom Piccirilli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chase and his partner are well known poets and performance artists in New York City. But part of what drives their work is what haunts them, as they are both clinical schizophrenics, subject to delusion and paranoia, but which also infuses their work with edgy passion. They met at a psychiatric facility that Chase was sentenced to after being party to the hit and run death of a young girl while intoxicated and hallucinating. The girl's father also goes away to prison, because he had kidnapped the girl and severely beaten the mother. He vows to kill Chase upon his release from prison. The story follows Chase with flashbacks to his time in the sadistic mental health facility, his affair with a nurse who may or may not be a figment of his imagination and his development in the precarious crucible of the New York arts scene. The story picks up speed and edginess until Chase and the man who vowed to kill him meet for the final time, literally in a dark alley. This was a fascinating story, given the illness of the protagonist the reader is always kept on edge about what is true or illusion, real or false hope. Piccrilli writes about mental illness with a great deal of compassion and dignity, completely avoiding the tropes and cliches that could make the story stumble. A fast paced crime story, with tinges of haunting loss and madness, this is a truly fine achievement.

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