Are you ready for the gritty, down home writing of Donald Ray Pollock? Pollock grew up in the 50s & 60s in south central Ohio in a holler (it could not be called a town) called Knockemstiff. Knockemstiff then had three stores and a bar and a population of 450. Says Pollock, most were "connected by blood through one godforsaken calamity or another." He dropped out of high school to work in a meatpacking plant at a job his dad found for him and then spent 32 years at a paper mill in Chillicothe, OH. At 45 he quit his job at the mill in order to go to graduate school and become a writer. Pollock’s two critically acclaimed books, Knockemstiff (interconnected short stories) and The Devil All the Time, chronicle life in Knockemstiff and the surrounding area from the end of WWll and up to the late nineties.
In Knockemstiff, Pollock peers into the soul of a tough Midwestern town to reveal the sad, stunted and resilient lives of its residents. These linked stories from Knockemstiff span a period from the mid-sixties to the late nineties and feature a cast of recurring characters who are woebegone, baffled and depraved--but irresistibly, undeniably real. He presents his characters and the sordid goings-on with a stern intelligence, a bracing absence of value judgments and a refreshingly dark sense of bottom-dog humor.
The Devil All the Time
Pollock’s first novel is set in the violent soul-numbing towns of southern Ohio and West Virginia and he draws these towns’ folks and their inevitably hopeless lives without pity. Pollack pulls these characters all together, the pace is relentless, and just when it seems like no one can ever catch a break, a good guy does, but not in any predictable way. He braids his plotlines into a taut narrative that will leave readers astonished and deeply moved. He proves himself a master storyteller in the grittiest and most uncompromising American grain.