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)
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.
Certified bookworm since 1962
I did not love this story. Maybe I missed some subtlety that other reviewers picked up on, but for me, the novel was relentlessly filled with misogynists, perverted religious believers, sociopaths, and violence that went nowhere and served no purpose. The book was disjointed and felt more like a series of short stories or novellas that were too neatly tied together at the end. The violence and perversion seemed to serve no other purpose than to shock.
The narrator was excellent. Great performance.
I really enjoyed this story. Pollock sets the pace early and it doesn't let up throughout the story. There are a lot of grotesque displays of behavior, and some beautiful ones as well. Each character is interesting and they are interwoven very well. The narration was also great, it was a fantastic story to listen to.
Pollock explores the dark side of humanity. And he does it well. So matter of fact it hurts. I truly enjoyed this book.
An exposition of depravity, just short of so strange that you can still relate. Involving to the end. Captures a bottom fisher part of the society we wish were not there.
This book was gross. Pollock is a very good writer and the characters are interesting but it was just too gross for me. I don't get it. The narration was excellent.
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