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In Pitiful Criminals, Greg Bottoms offers thirteen genre-bending chapters from his past that take a close look at the lives of small-time criminals driven, often by confusion and desperation, to deeds that range from the absurd to the heinous. We meet the author’s schizophrenic arsonist brother, a depressed pot grower, a damaged ex-dealer who barely escaped a violent burglary, a born-again teenage shooter, and other alienated Americans pushed to extremes by psychology and circumstance. Forceful, poetic, unique, and utterly uncompromising, it is an unforgettable tour of the dark side of the human condition.
Greg Bottoms’s innovative fiction and creative nonfiction have focused on the American South, the effects of violence on individual lives, criminal behavior, mental illness, ecstatic and spiritual experience, and class in America. He blends explicitly autobiographical and biographical content with artful storytelling, a cultural journalist’s observations, and a philosopher’s deep inquiry into the strange ways we live now. This is postmodern crime fiction at its gritty and original best.
Greg Bottoms is an essayist, story writer, and critic. He is the author of a memoir, Angelhead: My Brother’s Descent into Madness, two books of narrative essays about American self-taught religious artists, The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art and Spiritual American Trash: Portraits from the Margins of Art and Faith, and three genre-blurring collections of autobiographical short prose, Sentimental, Heartbroken Rednecks, Fight Scenes, and Swallowing the Past. He is a Professor of English at the University of Vermont, where he teaches creative writing.