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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • LJ
  • 08-05-17

Flannery O'Connor on overdrive

This author is a hidden gem and I have discovered lives not far from me. I know the places he writes of and have hunted in those areas. I can see the people he describes, true as life. He is a great rider and should be read. The garbage I read on the best seller's list pales in comparison. The religious undertones and country living I myself grew up with are not fiction. Those simplistic virtues and basic living are rural America. Great intertwining story and theme. Keep writing, love the conversational and stream of thought prose.

Do yourself a favor and read something that is tangible.

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This book is fantastic

Advisory warning: this book is f'd up. Super f'd up. If you like intelligent,thoughtful, well written books that are twisted and dark (like I do) do not miss out on this book.

It's upsetting and dark and never lets up.

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Well written

This book was such a fun read. I loved how all the stories were woven together. Mr. Pollock is a very talented writer. The scenes are set up so vividly without him taking a whole chapter to describe it. If you like adventure and fast paced books, I highly recommend you give this book a go.

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Reminded me of home (for better or worse)

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

It would certainly depend on the friend. It's an excellent book for people that enjoy gritty, southern-gothic-esque reads. Many of the characters in this book reminded me of people I grew up with in rural Texas, especially my grandfather. Not in their actions - thank goodness, but in their desires and understanding of how the world works. I'd recommend this book to a few people that I grew up with, because I think it might resonate with them for the same reason.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I'm pretty sure that this book either does not pass the Bechdel test or just barely passes. The male characters in this book are extremely well-developed, and the reader is given great insight into their motivations and vices. None of the female characters, however, manage to move beyond being a trope, a plot device, or both. The female characters are given little to no agency, and they all come across as rather vapid.

Any additional comments?

Pollock's writing is beautiful, and if he given his female characters more voice and personality, this would have easily been a five-star book for me. However, the lack of well-written female characters was a glaring issue throughout the book, especially when they had to sit next to the complicated and provocative male characters.

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accidental not so accidental coincidences

a great book about coincidences and fate. the way he writes about people's choices and how the choices they make affect others in the most disturbing ways..

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Enthralling

I finished listening within a week. I think I might even listen again. Donald Ray Pollock paints a picture like few other writers are able to. His novels are darkness twisted, and keep you engaged all the way through.

Also, the performance is great. Each character has their own voice and personality, and it really brings the scenes and characters to life.

Loved this book!

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Authentic, Interwoven, Literary Ingeniousness

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I grew up in Pittsburgh, but my family stems from the sticks of WV. Even if this isn't the case for other readers, it is a fantastic story with more heart and truth than any book I've read this year.

What did you like best about this story?

The perfect architecture of the woven plotlines. They all come together for one chilling result. Also, I really admire an author that steps up to the challenge of showing the reader the life span of key characters instead of using cheesy, lazy flashbacks.

Which character – as performed by Mark Bramhall – was your favorite?

Hmm, this one is TOUGH. He does every voice perfectly. I guess I enjoyed Emma and Earskill, because their accent was not only thick but had to slow and methodic. He used the right inflection on certain words to get the meaning across, where a person unfamiliar with this accent wouldn't know how to read the phrase on the page.

If you could take any character from The Devil All the Time out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Arvin. Adult Arvin, obviously. I want to marry him. In my mind, he grows up to be Rust Cohl.

Any additional comments?

Pick this one.

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amazing, disturbing, vivid and unforgettable

A dark and vivid story narrated with a hypnotizing candor. you can almost feel the humidity and smell the blood.

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fantastic listen!

decided to check this one out after listening to the heavenly table. both gritty attention holding books!

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Good but dark

The writing was very good, very intense. You could really picture what was going on (which made it difficult to listen to at times). It explores some very dark themes and situations so it is not for those who get offended easily or the faint-hearted. The narrator's voice gave you a sense of foreboding the entire time which is appropriate for the setting.