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The Devil All the Time


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A dark and riveting vision of America from the award-winning author of Knockemstiff.

About the Author

Donald Ray Pollock, recipient of the 2009 PEN/Bingham Fellowship, made his literary debut in 2008 with the critically acclaimed short-story collection Knockemstiff. He worked as a labourer at the Mead Paper Mill in Chillicothe, Ohio, from 1973 to 2005.


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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

"Hits you like a telegram from Hell slid under your door at three o'clock in the morning" William Gay, Author of Provinces of Night and The Long Home "Donald Ray Pollock redefines the term 'American Gothic' in his debut novel, taking Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner and turning them up to 11... The Devil All the Time is a very dark slice of Americana." The Herald "Like being dragged backwards through a briar patch by William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor while Nick Cave howls hosannahs at a blood-black moon... Spider-gobbling revivalists, kick-back sheriffs, sideshow freaks, perfidious preachers - all are present and most incorrect...You can taste the metal in the water and the tang of decay in the fetid air." Time Out "[Pollock] has an extraordinarily brutal yet tender insight into the lives of his characters. Superb." The Times "It is [a] profound and moving kind of book; it is a bruise-black slice of Midwest gothic, and confirms Pollock as one of the most adventurous and significant writers of our time... The Devil All the Time is bleak, and plangent, and horrific; but it is also faultlessly written, emotionally compelling and intellectually serious. In the hands of a writer of genius, even as frequently stale a form as 'dirty realism' can shine and expand. If the Coen Brothers want their next Oscar they should buy the rights to this book now" -- Stuart Kelly Scotland on Sunday

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