Joanna Christopher, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by Joanna Christopher)
Refreshingly raw with attention to details...grotesque, yet familiar characters. Genuine. Knockemstiff, Ohio, reminded me of Southern Illinois...rural, economically depressed...not much happens, but when it does, it's of Gothic proportions.
Viking, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Viking)
I have to pick this as my favorite book of last year, if for no other reason than to support a book that more people should know about. Donald Ray Pollack is one of my favorite new authors and I can't wait to see what he does next.
Jennifer March, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Jennifer March)
BRILLIANT! Start to finish, I absolutely loved this book, couldn't get enough of it, found Pollack's words creeping around in my head before I went to sleep at night, and still worming their way around when I woke up. Hands down, my favorite book of 2011.
In The Devil All the Time, Pollock mixes equal parts Tod Browning (Freaks) and Davis Grubb (The Night of the Hunter) to concoct an entirely original work that is as heartfelt as it is visceral. Simply put, it's an astonishing debut novel.
by Michael T.,
Donald Ray Pollock toiled in an Ohio paper mill for over 30 years before selling his first book, Knockemstiff. Though most of Pollock's work takes place in Ohio, there's more than a touch of the Southern literary tradition in his writing. His characters, unconventionally religious and by degrees both desperate and resigned, are drawn into a great circular story. They grapple and confront each other in ways that are often violent and sometimes bizarre. Players include a failed faith healer, a desperate husband and a son caught in his wake, and a serial killing couple who document their dirty work on camera. His work has legs. The message: Life isn't fair, but it's rarely uninteresting.
by Michael T.
The Devil All the Time is a dark, gritty, heartbreaking story set in the South after WWII. Arvin Russell watches helplessly as his mother dies and his father goes slowly insane trying in vain to save her. Carl and Sandy Henderson are a married pair of serial killers combing the countryside for hitchhikers who later beg for mercy but receive none. Sheriff Lee Bodecker is the designated lawman, but he makes his own rules, which never match the law he's promised to uphold. A pair of pseudo-preachers, Roy and Theodore, are running from a crime they are almost too confused to understand. The new preacher, Preston Teagardin, has an uncontrollable appetite for young girls and no qualms about satisfying that urge, despite the fact that his bride is 16. Pollock's characters seem absolutely real and convincingly tell their stories as the book builds to a dramatic and explosive ending. Violent, harrowing, deeply disturbing, and horrific, Pollock's story is difficult to read but amazingly well written and exceedingly worth the effort — it is truly fantastic.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"If Pollack's powerful collection Knockemstiff was a punch to the jaw, his follow-up, a novel set in the violent soul-numbing towns of southern Ohio and West Virginia, feels closer to a mule's kick, and how he draws these folks and their inevitably hopeless lives without pity is what the kick's all about. Willard Russell is back from the war, on a Greyhound bus passing through Meade, Ohio, in 1945 when he falls for a pretty waitress in a coffee shop. Haunted by what he's seen in the Pacific and by the lovely Charlotte, he finds her again, marries her and has a son, Arvin. But happiness is elusive, and while Willard teaches his only son some serious survival skills ('You just got to pick the right time,' he tells him about getting back at bullies. 'They's a lot of no-good sonofabitches out there'), Charlotte sickens, Willard goes mad — sacrificing animals and worse at his altar in the woods — and Arvin's sent to his grandmother Emma in Coal Creek. Emma's also raising Leonora, the daughter of a timid religious mother who was murdered, possibly by her father, Roy, the visiting preacher at the Coal Creek Church of the Holy Ghost Sanctified, who along with his guitar-playing, crippled cousin, Theodore, in a wheelchair after drinking strychnine to prove his love for Jesus, has disappeared. And there's on-the-take sheriff Lee Bodecker, whose sister Sandy and her perverted serial killer husband, Carl Henderson, troll the interstates for male hitchhikers he refers to as 'models.' Pollack pulls them all together, the pace relentless, and just when it seems like no one can ever catch a break, a good guy does, but not in any predictable way. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love,
"Pollock brings grace and precision to colloquial language, and the ferocious integrity of his vision is flat-out stunning ...I keep reaching for some other writer to compare him with — maybe a Raymond Carver with hope and vitality, or a godless Flannery O'Conner — but Pollock is no shadow of anybody else. This is a powerful talent at work."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"This is as raw as American fiction gets. It is an unforgettable experience."
by New York Times Book Review,
"Pollock's voice is fresh and full-throated...His steely, serrated prose...calls to mind Harry Crews."
by Wall Street Journal,
"The next important voice in American fiction."
by Chuck Palahniuk,
"More engaging than any new fiction in years."
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