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Publisher's Summary

In this unforgettable work of fiction, Donald Ray Pollock peers into the soul of a tough Midwestern American town to reveal the sad, stunted, but resilient lives of its residents.

Spanning a period from the mid-'60s to the late '90s, the linked stories that comprise Knockemstiff feature a cast of recurring characters who are woebegone, baffled, and depraved - but irresistibly, undeniably real. Rendered in the American vernacular with vivid imagery and a wry, dark sense of humor, these thwarted and sometimes violent lives jump at the listener with inexorable force. 

A father pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up bodybuilder. A psychotic rural recluse comes upon two siblings committing incest and feels compelled to take action. Donald Ray Pollock 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.

With an artistic instinct honed on the works of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews, Pollock offers a powerful work of fiction in the classic American vein. Knockemstiff is a genuine entry into the literature of place.

©2008 Donald Ray Pollock (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“More engaging than any new fiction in years.... Knockemstiff gives us the impossible - fast, funny stories about the saddest people you’ll ever meet in fiction.” (Chuck Palahniuk)

“Pollock’s voice is fresh and full-throated.... His steely, serrated prose...calls to mind Harry Crews.” (The New York Times Book Review)

Knockemstiff is a powerful, remarkable, exceptional book.... Pollock knows these people, what they want and think and feel, and he takes us there without flinching.” (Los Angeles Times)

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