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.
©2011 Donald Ray Pollock (P)2011 Random House
"If Pollock’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." (Publishers Weekly)
"The God-fearing hard-luck characters who populate Donald Ray Pollock’s debut novel, The Devil All the Time, move through the southern outlands of Ohio and the isolated hollows of West Virginia like figures in a collective nightmare of poverty, addiction, superstition, and crime" (Lisa Shea, ELLE magazine)
“This novel fulfills the promise made by Pollock’s debut collection, Knockemstiff. He is a real writer, and The Devil All The Time 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)
The narration was among the best that I have heard. The story is of the Southern Gothic variety. Not everybody like this genre, but if you do, this one is a real standout.
All the characters in this book are not only flawed humans, they are very damaged. It was difficult to find someone to cheer for. It took me a month to complete this book. Very sad, very violent, incredibly sadistic individuals.
Prayer log scenes. The desperation of husband to save his beautiful wife.
Favorite? Hmmm... I enjoyed the antics of Theodore & Jesse.
Not suitable for for depressed persons. Should not be viewed during cold grey rainy season. THIS FILM IS NOT INTENDED FOR THE MENTALLY OFF BALANCED.
Not a good bed time read. I found this book interesting, the characters were well developed... But damn its dark.
Tell us about yourself!
Donald Ray Pollack is a master of the Southern-grotesque. His characters are cleverly engineered backwoods brilliance, not the dumb hicks you may come to expect from some ahem, other, authors. The story focuses on Arvin, the son of Willard Russell, whose childhood is consumed with sacrificial blood spilling on a "prayer log." No animal is safe from Willard sacrificial log, and Arvin soon learns no human life is safe either. As the story progresses we are introduced to more characters, each sick in their own way, and the story unfolds as each encounters the son of Willard Russell... The performance can be a bit flat at times, but overall a very entertaining read. If you like Danny Woodrell, or James Lee Burke, you will probably enjoy Pollack as well.
This story grabs you right from the start and doesn't let go. It is not for the faint-hearted or the easily offended. It is very gritty and violent and graphic. Bad language, sex, killings, beatings, etc. The writing is good. Not flowery, but it is clear and tight and it flows well. Good dialogue, too.
I liked this book quite a bit, but I thought the plot line about Roy and Theodore (the preachers on the run) could have used more development. The ending was also maybe a little abrupt and left me feeling somewhat hollow or unsatisfied. I don't know....after such a wild ride, I thought it ended kinda quick and quiet.
Most of the characters are horrible people with no redeeming qualities. Arvin is definitely the most likeable character....he's not violent unless he has to be. Because of the characters and because there is so much death and so many horrible things that happen, it can be a little hard to listen to at times. I agree with the other reviewer who said it can make you feel dirty or like you need to take a shower. Still, it is gripping and entertaining and mostly enjoyable - - if you can take it.
Mark Bramhall did an outstanding job reading the story.
" I have my mind... & a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." -T.L.
I say madmen covering both women & men, so there is no gender discrimination for sure. I have to say this was an excellent book but at the same time I'm really not sure who I would personally recommend it to except reviewing it overall. The reason I say this is because I do not want the person who reads this book thinking I have some attraction to the absolute depravity a human soul can travel into & why the psychological minds of the characters were so interesting to me.
The book is obviously a very graphic book from the brief description above but the author does such a phenomenal ability weaving all these random lives of people from what we would probably call the 'cess pit' of humanity & in the beginning u are thinking how all of this can possibly relate to each other or if they do? But apparently the author believes in 'Karma', a spiritual essence I have strong attractions to as well. The story recounts the morbid tales of multiple killers who all carry out they're deeds for different purposes, along with a protagonist that isn't immediately apparent because at the level of twisted thought these groups of humans all have small congruencies in the person I would label as a protagonist could be labeled as otherwise in my opinion & argued that there is no real protagonist but a story written about the darker parts of cosmic karma as the 'circle of life' continues to touch everyone involved voluntarily or not in my opinion
Considering the subject matter & the depth of many of the persona's the authors ends up creating a wonderful book about ultimate karma as I see it... what goes around surely comes around & no good deed goes unpunished. If u have a strong stomach & are interested in this type of journey I would say to satisfy ur thoughts on this novel. If taken into a movie context it could easily fall into a horror section but it's not, its written in a form of poetic justice to some & that life is ultimately just an unknown except that death is the only thing we are truly sure of. The narrator did an excellent job with the material & the two together brought this book alive for me & burrowed into my brain like a earwig... I just hope it didn't lay any eggs while it was in it....
I was a bit hesitant because of the reviews that mentioned Cormac McCarthy and Quentin Tarantino because I didn't want to get depressed. But it wasn't like that. No nightmares, no angst. Just a story about a bunch of sicko degenerates, plus one decent kid and his family who lived among them. Lots of blood, killing, and bad behavior, but I think the reason it wasn't truly disturbing was because the victims weren't fully developed characters. Maybe that was deliberate, don't know. It was fun to listen to, and especially because the narrator nailed the southern accents. To the author's credit, while I was pretty sure how the last scene would play out, I wasn't completely sure. Really enjoyed it.
This novel —which follows Donald Ray Pollock's jaw-dropping "Knockemstiff" —delivers a view of human existence that is disturbing, but truly lurking just below the surface of many human lives.
Brilliantly narrated by Mark Bramhall, I found myself having to take a break from the crushing existential desperation of Pollack's characters; but was glad that I returned to finish the remaining chapters.
There is a certain type of truth that Pollack paints, and it is dark. Some readers may not be able to see past the actions of Pollack's characters, and may miss the deeper layered messages and meanings he delivers with this first full length novel.
After listening to the audio book, I am also going to grab a print copy. In the meantime, I look forward to his next work.
I found this as a recommended book for Stephen King lovers. This has been the best so far among the list. Not too complicated, good visuals, interesting and exciting throughout. As a lover of dark, suspenseful, and unique stories, I got everything I wanted.
Cormac McCarthy's books...........darker, but every bit as well written.
I have not; he's an excellent narrator.
All of it........
Deeply disturbing to the point I've considered not finishing it. One wonders how anyone can imagine the things Donald Ray Pollock describes. His writing is almost too good. I wonder if he's written anything less unsettling.
I didn't read the print version, but the reading of this book was artful. The narrator's voice, combined with Pollock's storytelling, made everything in the story's world frighteningly real. I also enjoyed his performance of Arvin. Arvin seems to find the devil at every turn in this story. In his family, in the woods, in the law, on the road.
The closest I can come to this would be Flannery O'Connor's
I loved to hate Carl! Bramhall's performance of this character made him so believable to me.
Roy and Theodore would probably appreciate the free meal, and would, no doubt, provide an entertaining evening in exchange! I'd also like to meet Charlotte, and ask her more about herself. She was a bit of a mystery in the whole scheme of things.
I heard about this book when Pollock was interviewed on NPR. I had never even heard of him before. I knew then that I had to have it. I was not sorry. Pollock is clearly disturbed in a way that allows him to see the darkness in the hearts of men, and the occasional good.
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