Of course, it can end up reinforcing a kind of moral superiority within the reader as it merely offers a simplified rendition of violence begets violence. Only the bad guys are killed and everything is neatly tied up at the end. Whereas a film like 1972's Last House on the Left thrusts the viewer into a world of moral ambiguity. One where you cheer on the "heroes" but you're aware the whole time that the quagmire of violence and revenge merely degrades the protagonists.
Thankfully, The Things We Bury is a text that doesn't offer up platitudes. Filled with dirt, despair and an impending sense of doom, it epitomises the "hamster wheel to hell" image made famous by David Ervine.
Beginning with a wounded narrator, Fenton informs the reader that:
A flash from the barrel and a kick from the recoil turn the world upside down ... for a few brief moments I feel like God. But it doesn't feel as good as you'd think.
It turns out that the job ended up being a lot more complicated than originally intended, and so a period of downtime/hiding is required.
Turning up at a motel, Fenton proceeds to ruminate on his life, his mistakes, his choice to end everything which is interrupted by a woman staying in the same motel as him, called Analise. They seem to be on the same wavelength but will things end well?
An intense read that operates as an existentialist musing as well as a 'crime gone wrong' thriller, The Things We Bury is the tenth book from "...transgressive poet/author/photographer..." Philip LoPresti. Barely 110 pages, it packs a serious wallop for the reader. LoPresti keeps the self-loathing narrator on the right side of bearable, whereas other authors would have shifted into maudlin terrain. The depiction of the surroundings is one of a broken America: chilly, isolated, run down and decrepit, fuelling the atmospheric text.
Short, succinct and snappy, this is much more than a crime novel.
Philip LoPresti , 2020, The Things We Bury. Nihilism Revisited ISBN-13: 979-8613206209
⏩Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.