There is something to be said about those authors that you can always rely upon for a good read. Whether it is picking up a book for another reading or finding an as yet undiscovered gem, you know that you are going to enjoy the story before you even start. Tom Piccirilli is one of those authors for me. Piccirilli has written some very good horror novels but I like his crime/noir works even more. I was happy to find a copy of “Loss” and did not hesitate to jump into the dark mind of Piccirilli one more time.
A failed author now works as a handyman in an old building that has been converted into an apartment building. Not only has the author’s career fallen apart, he finds out that his works were released in other countries without his knowledge and for which he has never received any compensation. Furthermore, a successful author also lives in the building which makes his struggles even more poignant. Lastly, he has a history with the successful author and is madly in love with his wife.
But that is not all, for the apartment building is not an ordinary building but a repository for lost dreams. The real inventor of aluminum foil lives here in obscurity though his invention should have made him rich. Then there is the strange man and his talking monkey, Mojo, who has just moved in. The strangest of all are the residents that just seem to flit though occasionally for it is not apparent if they are living or are just ghosts either in fact or of the mind.
While that may not be the best summary of the story, this is largely because this is a very difficult book to summarize. The title does the best job of wrapping the story up in that every character in the novella is dealing with loss in one form or another. Whether it is the loss of life, the loss of fame or fortune, or the loss of love, everyone in this story is dealing with loss in one way or another. This makes the story very heavy and bleak at times. After all, loss can make life seem not worth living when it has one in its clutches. There are some very dark passages in the story that make the reader stop and think or maybe even take a short break from the story to lighten the mood a bit.
What makes Piccirilli so good is that he is able to tap into human emotion and make the reader feel it. While the overall tone of the novella is very dark and oppressive, Piccirilli is still able to lighten the mood through a kind of slick and subtle humor that kind of sneaks up on the reader just as one’s mind will often do in the face of depression. Piccirilli understands the human mind and has a unique ability to express that onto paper. This is not a perfect story and is a little disjointed at times but, then again, so is life. “Loss” would not be the first book I would recommend by Tom Piccirilli but it is still superior to most works by other authors. Along with Greg F. Gifune, Tom Piccirilli is able to tap into the dark side of the human soul that comes with loss and make the reader feel the story to the core of his being.