Devil All the Time
By Donald Ray Pollock
(Harvill Secker, Paperback, 9781846555411)
Publication Date: November 2011
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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 over-tones 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 sacrifi-cial blood he pours on his "prayer log." There's Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial kill-ers, 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.
"From the Hardcover edition."
Donald Ray Pollock worked in a paper mill and meatpacking plant for 32 years before becoming a writer. His second book The Devil All the Time is set in his hometown of Knockemstiff, Ohio, where he says "nearly everyone was connected by blood through one godforsaken calamity or another." More at NPR.org
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