Devil All the Time, The

Donald Ray Pollock
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.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2021-01-19
Fundamentally formulaic.

You know the genre: the dirt-poor and occasionally working white trash, muck, dirty forgettable sex, unattractive characters (like "The Ass Saw the angel", many Cormac McCarthy books) .

So another publisher says "yo, you write me one of those, boy" and Mr Pollock does what he's told. The 'landscape' is rich, but that it's just going-through-the-motions is obvious. No likeable characters and only two developed properly, 'cos it's all just for throw-away, lots of murder and sex....

The real problem is that there's no genius. No Genius.... so it gets tiring, and never really interesting.
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