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The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
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The Devil All the Time (2011)

by Donald Ray Pollock

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8434215,328 (4)55
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» See also 55 mentions

English (40)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
This is one dark book. I love that about it. In fact, it was much darker than I expected and that is not a bad thing. It lived up to what I expect when someone describes a Southern Gothic novel.

The characters are very dark and very violent. There is a returned World War II vet who falls for a beautiful waitress and settles in Knockemstiff, Ohio. He is kind of a crazy wilderness lay preacher who attempts to pray away his wife’s cancer. Fair warning to sensitive readers, some of his worship involves animal sacrifice that is quite graphic.

There are two crazy travelling preachers who are every stereotype of “Deliverance” characters that you can think of – including the squeal little piggy variety. Those that have read the book or seen the movie will understand.

My favorite creepy couple was Carl and Sandy. Every year they take a two to four week sojourn to different parts of the country and embark on a serial killing spree. It involves sex, photography and death.

What is most interesting is that at different points in the book, all of these disparate stories converge. There were times that I was wondering where this was all headed and then the characters would meet. It made sense when it happened but one thing I loved about that was the author never felt the need to speed the story towards these meetings.

In that sense, the story unfolds at a nice, slow, southern pace. And if I am picturing this story as a color it would be very black with shades of gray and some white. Apparently there is another book called “Knockemstiff” by the same author. I assume that it continues or precedes this one and that it is populated by some of the same characters.

I definitely felt like there was more to say in the story. Even the peripheral characters had very fascinating glimpses that made me want to know more. This was a great bargain and I would not hesitate to recommend this book to other readers. ( )
  ozzie65 | Jan 9, 2017 |
Life is just so sad for the people in this rural noir novel of unrelenting bleakness. It's a good book, but it depressed the hell out of me. There is a husband/wife team of serial killers. A spider-handling preacher teamed with a disabled, guitar-playing pedophile. An orphan who learns vengeance from his father. A prayer log is sanctified by blood (and you may not want to know where the blood comes from). There are suicides and murders and just general despair. Lessons to learn - stay away from preachers, do not hitchhike, keep away from rural America, no good comes from guns and people are bad. If you're in the mood for this, you'll probably like this well-written book. The narration by Mark Bramhall of the audio book is very good, although I needed to speed it up. ( )
  fhudnell | Nov 12, 2016 |
I'd recently read a review of Donald Ray Pollock's most recent novel that sounded interesting, but it wasn't available in our local library. I decided to go father back into his catalog and found 'The Devil All the Time', his first full-length novel. I can't imagine a more auspicious, audacious, and disturbing beginning for a 'new' author.

'The Devil....' is going to be one of those books that won't be soon forgotten. It's set in the period following WWII up into the 60's in the hilly region of Ohio and West Virginia and 'stars' an intermingled mix of characters that include crooked police, serial killers, good religious folk, bad religious folk, poor people, hillbillies..... you get the picture. And lots of violence, believe me.

The various subplots are threaded together expertly and tied up neatly (well, as neatly as possible based on what occurs at the end, anyway) at the conclusion. I won't go into details on the main plot(s), but suffice to say that it's not a 'traditional' whodunnit, mystery, or thriller, but is more of a slice of life over a number of years of a group of violent, hard luck people from a rough part of the country in an era of change for the country.

What's most impressive to me is the writing. The tone, flow, pace, and dialogue are strongly evocative of that period and place. There's nothing fancy in the prose, just very straightforward writing that seems to effortlessly fit the action. Some of the content is violent, some is downright gross, but none of it seems gratuitous.

I've heard Mr. Pollock's writing compared to a number of famous writers, O'Connor, Faulkner, and Cormac McCarthy among them. I've not read O'Connor or Faulkner for years but am very familiar with McCarthy and I'd have to say that I can see some similarity there.

Pollack's initial novel is a great one, but it's not for the squeemish. If you can take the violence and nastiness you'll be rewarded, but be advised that you may be in for a few nightmares. ( )
1 vote gmmartz | Jul 8, 2016 |
Not for the faint of heart.... Starts dark gets darker then pitch black finishes with a tiny glimmer in the end. ( )
  GSB68 | May 19, 2015 |


Awesome book and beautifully written. Disturbing yet not sadistic, just amazing prose and profile of complex personalities in the Appalachian wasteland. Thoroughly enjoyable. ( )
  lincolnpan | Dec 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Tras el sensacional éxito de Knockemstiff, he aquí la esperadísima primera incursión en la novela de Donald Ray Pollock: El diablo a todas horas mezcla la imaginería del gótico norteamericano con la sequedad y crudeza de la novela negra más descarnada en una trama adictiva y contundente, que replica y expande la intensidad de sus mejores relatos. Todo un despliegue de poder narrativo, y la reválida de una firma imprescindible.

Cuando Willard Russell, veterano de la primera guerra mundial, descubre que el cáncer empuja a su mujer hacia una muerte inevitable, concluye que solo Jesús podrá socorrer a quien la ciencia ha condenado; tras erigir un altar en pleno bosque, se entrega a unas sesiones de oración que, poco a poco, se tornarán peligrosamente sangrientas, y en las que participará, estoico, su hijo Arvin. Durante más de dos décadas, desde la resaca posbélica hasta los aparentemente esperanzados años sesenta, Arvin crece en busca de su propia versión de la justicia, rodeado de personajes tan particulares como siniestros: Carl y Sandy Henderson, una pareja de asesinos en serie que patrullan América en una extraña misión homicida; el fugitivo Roy, predicador circense y febril, y su compañero Theodore, guitarrista paralítico y asediado por sus pulsiones; el religioso Preston Teagardin, cruel, sádico y lascivo, y el sheriff corrupto Lee Bodecker, que está dejando de beber. Hombres y mujeres frecuentemente dominados por formas monstruosas de la fe, que perdieron el rumbo en un mundo a la deriva donde Dios no es más que una sombra.
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Book description
In the years following the end of World War II, Willard Russell is tormented by the horrors he witnessed in the South Pacific and fears his punishment for the lives he took is watching his wife die of cancer, while their son also deals with his own personal demons, which may be linked to a serial killer who is on the prowl in rural Ohio.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 038553504X, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2011: With The Devil All the Time, author Donald Ray Pollock has crafted an exceptionally gritty, twisted page-turner. This follow-up to 2008's Knockemstiff is set in the Midwest during the mid-century, but reads more like a gothic Western. Lawlessness roams the rural, god-fearing landscape of Ohio and West Virginia, inhabitated by the likes of Pollock's deranged-yet-compelling cast of characters--a husband and wife who take vacations to murder hitchhikers, a faux preacher and his crippled accomplice on the lam for manslaughter, and an orphan with a penchant for exacting violent justice. Needless to say, The Devil All the Time is a brutal novel, but Pollock exacts the kind of precision and control over his language that keeps the violence from ever feeling gratuitous. The three storylines eventually converge in a riveting moment that will leave readers floored and haunted. --Kevin Nguyen

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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"--Jacket.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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