In my earlier post about librarian boob humor I mentioned a fellow Ohioan and author, Donald Ray Pollock. His collection of short stories, KNOCKEMSTIFF, was so riveting that I picked up his new novel, THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME and proceeded to lose all contact with the outside world for three straight hours. That's right, cover to cover baby.
THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME is not for the weak of heart or those looking for a happy ending. It is brutal, honest Midwestern gothic storytelling at it's height, literature of place in a setting readers will be glad to escape from, though it will never leave them. While despair and depravity may be the coin of the realm in cerebral literature, Pollock's distinctive power lies not in artful and attractive villains with well-delivered lines, but rather in the aging waitress-whore whose cigarettes are turning her teeth yellow, the virgin-hounding overweight minister, who, when pulled out from under the cloud of their cigarettes or from behind the pulpit prove to be not incarnations of evil but tragically human.
The characters weave through their lives on a tragic collision course with one another, an intricate braid of storytelling in which there are few people to root for, but a shade of our weaker selves in everyone.