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Knockemstiff (2008)

by Donald Ray Pollock

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8633324,994 (3.85)91
"More engaging than any new fiction in years." --Chuck Palahniuk An unforgettable work of fiction that peers into the soul of a tough Midwestern American town to reveal the sad, stunted but resilient lives of its residents. Knockemstiff is a genuine entry into the literature of place. Spanning a period from the mid-sixties to the late nineties, the linked stories that comprise Knockemstiff feature a cast of recurring characters who are irresistibly, undeniably real. A father pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up body builder. 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.… (more)
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    In the Devil's Territory by Kyle Minor (Anonymous user)
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    Mrs. Somebody Somebody by Tracy Winn (lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Short story collections examining various characters living in the same town.
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» See also 91 mentions

English (30)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Whew. Love.

One thing about these short stories, (eighteen of them) and, a reader might not be aware of this unless they write, but I thought they were written almost like character studies. Each story took off from the first sentence, and then I just sort of hung on for the ride.

While the common thread throughout pinpoints people who are at rock bottom - and if possible - may have sunk even lower - I couldn't help but see each of them, and feel empathy to some degree as they struggled through their decrepit lives. This batch of human misfits were all card carrying members of The Losers Club. At times they were pitiably funny, downright disgusting, or so inept at making a total mess of their relationships, you might wonder how can anyone get into such situations, or act in such a manner, yet, they will also appear as all too familiar. Maybe you'll find yourself recognizing that one family member, friend, or acquaintance, who just can't seem to get their act together no matter what. I was in these scenes with each character, experiencing what they were experiencing, much to my dismay at times. (yuck)

That's what made each of these tiny tales of turpitude so doggone addicting.

Highly entertaining, highly recommend - but not for the faint of heart or the squeamish.

( )
  DonnaEverhart | Jun 21, 2022 |
This was a great first novel by Mr. Pollock. If you like the transgressive genre, you will definitely want to pick this up. The method that he joins the townsfolk stories together through time is brilliantly done. The small town of Knockemstiff is a really crappy place! ( )
  Drunken-Otter | Aug 20, 2021 |
If possible, I'd give this book ten stars. Five for brilliant writing and storytelling and five for gut-wrenching, head-spinning, brain-exploding imagery. Lord have mercy..... ( )
  mortalfool | Jul 10, 2021 |
Little podunk town
chock-full of nasty people
ugly, but sincere. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
I've read some crazy, outsider, efftup fiction before, but this was some next-level shizzle. Poverty, despair, drugs, violence, incest, bigotry, drugs again, drive-ins, infidelity, murder and a lot more drugs. And it's funny. Dark, mean, bleak and funny. These connected short stories are not for everyone, but I ate them up like diner pie with extra cream. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donald Ray Pollockprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andrews, MacLeodNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bray, R. C.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Godfrey, MattNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landon, AmyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ochman, JoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shapiro, RobNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woren, DanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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All Americans come from Ohio originally, if only briefly.

—DAWN POWELL
Dedication
FOR PATSY
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My father showed me how to hurt a man one August night at the Torch Drive-in when I was seven years old. ("Real Life")
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"More engaging than any new fiction in years." --Chuck Palahniuk An unforgettable work of fiction that peers into the soul of a tough Midwestern American town to reveal the sad, stunted but resilient lives of its residents. Knockemstiff is a genuine entry into the literature of place. Spanning a period from the mid-sixties to the late nineties, the linked stories that comprise Knockemstiff feature a cast of recurring characters who are irresistibly, undeniably real. A father pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up body builder. 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.

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