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. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Knockemstiff
—called "powerful, remarkable, exceptional" by the Los Angeles Times
— comes a dark and riveting vision of America that delivers literary excitement in the highest degree.
In The Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock has written a novel that marries the twisted intensity of Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers with the religious and Gothic overtones of Flannery O'Connor at her most haunting.
Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There's Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can't save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrificial blood he pours on his "prayer log." There's Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, who troll America's highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There's the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte's orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right.
Donald Ray Pollock braids his plotlines into a taut narrative that will leave readers astonished and deeply moved. With his first novel, he proves himself a master storyteller in the grittiest and most uncompromising American grain.
"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." Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love
"This is as raw as American fiction gets. It is an unforgettable experience." San Francisco Chronicle
"Pollock's voice is fresh and full-throated...His steely, serrated prose...calls to mind Harry Crews." New York Times Book Review
"The next important voice in American fiction." Wall Street Journal
"More engaging than any new fiction in years." Chuck Palahniuk
About the Author
Donald Ray Pollock, recipient of the 2009 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship, made his literary debut in 2008 with the critically acclaimed short story collection Knockemstiff. He worked as a laborer at the Mead Paper Mill in Chillicothe, Ohio, from 1973 to 2005.