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The Devil All the Time
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About the Author

DONALD RAY POLLOCK is the author of the novel The Devil All the Time and the story collection Knockemstiff, recipient of the 2009 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Fellowship. He worked as a laborer at the Mead Paper Mill in Chillicothe, Ohio, from 1973 to 2005. He holds an MFA from Ohio State University.

Reviews

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.

"Brutally creative. . . . Pollock knows how to dunk readers into a scene and when to pull them out gasping."--The New York Times Book Review

"Fulfills the promise in [Knockemstiff]. . . . Invites comparisons to Flannery O'Connor and Raymond Carver." -USA Today "Finely woven. . . . [A] throat-stomping Appalachian crime story." -GQ

"For fans of No Country for Old Men . . . sure to give you goose bumps." --Details

"Should cement Pollock's reputation as a significant voice in American fiction." --Los Angeles Times "Will have you on the edge of your seat." --Christian Science Monitor

"A systematic cataloguing of the horror and hypocrisy that festers in the dark shadow of the American dream." --The Portland Mercury "You may be repelled, you may be shocked, you will almost certainly be horrified, but you will read every last word." --The Washington Post

"Disarmingly smooth prose startled by knife-twists of black humor. . . . Expertly employs the conventions of Southern Gothic horror."-- The Wall Street Journal

"Reads as if the love child of O'Connor and Faulkner was captured by Cormac McCarthy, kept in a cage out back and forced to consume nothing but onion rings, Oxycontin and Terrence Malick's Badlands."--The Oregonian

"[Pollock] doesn't get a word wrong in this super-edgy American Gothic stunner."--Elle "Features a bleak and often nightmarish vision of the decades following World War II, a world where redemption, on the rare occasions when it does come to town, rides shotgun with soul-scarring consequences."--The Onion, A.V. Club "Mr. Pollock's new novel is, if anything, even darker than the Knockemstiff, and its violence and religious preoccupations venture into Flannery O'Connor territory."--The New York Times

"Donald Ray Pollock's engaging and proudly violent first novel...suggests a new category of fiction--grindhouse literary. Subtle characterization: check. Well-crafted sentences: check. Enthusiastic amounts of murder and mayhem: check, check."--The Daily Beast "Beneath the gothic horror is an Old Testament sense of a moral order in the universe, even if the restoration of that order itself requires violence."--The Columbus Dispatch

"A smorgasbord of grotesque characters trapped in a pressure-cooker plot. . . . Brutal fun."--Esquire

"For a first novel so soaked in stale sweat and bright fresh blood, Pollock's sweat is well-earned, and his blood is wise."--Philadelphia Citypaper

"A gallery of reprobates and religious fanatics... are multidimensional, flawed human beings."--Dayton Daily News "[The Devil All the Time is] a world unto its own, a world vividly and powerfully brought to life by a literary stylist who packs a punch as deadly as pulp-fiction master Jim Thompson and as evocative and morally rigorous as Russell Banks."--Philadelphia Inquirer

"Stunning . . . . One wild story . . . gives us sex, murder, mayhem and some of the most bizarre characters in fiction today."--Richmond Times-Dispatch

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