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The Devil All the Time

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  8,290 ratings  ·  1,373 reviews
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 G
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Doubleday (first published 2011)
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Caleb Zahnd This is a full novel. His first work, Knockemstiff, was a collection of short stories. It's a good introduction to the style of Pollock. Dark, gritty,…moreThis is a full novel. His first work, Knockemstiff, was a collection of short stories. It's a good introduction to the style of Pollock. Dark, gritty, intense. (less)
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1st out of 145 books — 153 voters
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10th out of 16 books — 268 voters

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Community Reviews

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oh, great. another book i can never recommend to elizabeth...

this book is vicious. understand that. this is a hyper-violent book, filled with completely unsavory characters in a filthy landscape where crimes are committed with breathtaking casualness.

and i gotta confess, i loved it.

because that's not all it is. this isn't just gratuitous violence for shock value and testing of the reader's limits. there is also that heartbreaking thing i love so much in my literature: small-town desperation. th
Paul Bryant
There’s chick lit

Dick lit

Mick lit

Flick lit

Trick lit

Sick lit

Quick lit

And now

Hick lit!

Well, yes, an affectionate term which I learned from one of the various great reviews of this novel on Goodreads, which probably doesn’t need another rave review, you all got the message now that Donald Ray Pollock is the real deal by now, but I feel compelled to tell you again.

Because I’ve not been having such a great time with novels recently. A kind of chill has settled over our relationship. Neither of us w
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
This review has been revised and can be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Grim, dark, unsparing, and good.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Mar 16, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Not for lovers of English Cozy Mysteries
Recommended to Mike by: Goodreads Group Pulp Fiction February 2012 selection
The Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock's tales from a ghost town

“Just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A
Read the Donald Ray Pollock Recommends Books page, put together from an interview i had with Donald Ray Pollock Here.

Beware some brutal characters contained within this story.
The name Pollock strikes up images in my head of the paintings of Jackson Pollock the painter, that splatter art. Well this Pollock is just as creative with his storytelling that leaves a deep branding in your mind and soul of a human stain of evil characters, that will stay with you well after you have finished this book.
Dan Schwent
Willard Russell prays over a prayer log for his cancer-ridden wife with his son, Arvin. A spider-eating preacher is convinced he can bring back the dead. A husband and wife pick up hitchhikers, photograph them, and kill them. How will all of their paths intersect?

Knockemstiff was one of my favorite books this year and I was anxious for Donald Ray Pollock to try his hand at a novel. Now I'm anxious for him to write a couple hundred more.

The Devil All the Time dips into the same well as Knockemsti
Jesus wept, but this is the real goods people -- gritty, raw, uncompromising prose that snaps and bites at your soft spots. I find it curious that so many people have shelved Pollock's sophomore novel as horror, because while it is horrifying in places, and deals with some chilling characters, horror it is not. In his review of Pollock's debut Knockemstiff, Kemper uses the terms redneck noir and hick lit and that's much closer to capturing what this novel is offering to anyone who dares pick it ...more
Hey, parents, having problems getting you kids to behave in church? Let them spend a Sunday with Willard Russell. Willard isn’t a preacher, and he doesn’t have one of those big mall-like mega churches. What Willard has is a log in the woods. That’s right, a damn log in the woods. A prayer log if you will, and he’s hung up some crosses around it, and he makes sure that his son Arvin is out there all the time praying with all he’s got. Don’t mind all that dried blood and animal bones. Willard thin ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Gritty crime thrillers* are not generally my cup of tea, be they in fancy pants, shiny new hardcovers in the Literature section or shitty paperbacks in the mass-market rows of shame where all the bored housewives hang out. There seems to more often than not be this sort of straight to the point, unsalted cracker style to the writing which leaves me feeling dissatisfied. I mean, sure, I know some people in real life who parrot the same words and stories, use "like" and "ummm" as ways to pause in ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“As far back as he could remember, it seemed that his father had fought the Devil all the time.”

Interested in reading Mitchell’s #1 pick so far this year? Are you sure you’re ready for the darkness that is the black hole of his heart? Positive?????? Alrighty then, here goes . . .

Houston commercial photography

When Ron 2.0 recommended The Devil All the Time to me I told him to f*&^ off did what I normally do – added it to my TBR where it would promptly be for
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
Not a book with fairy tales and happy endings.

This book shows the darkness that can linger in people's souls.

Willard Russell believes if he and his son Arvin pray over his "prayer log" long enough it can save his doomed wife Charlotte from the cancer ravaging her body. It might now be enough to just pray alone he adds some sacrificial blood.

So begins this tale. Setting in rural Ohio and West Virginia. Pollock shows the side of poor rural life that I hope to never see.

The characters
Dᴀɴ 2.☢
Jan 21, 2015 Dᴀɴ 2.☢ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dᴀɴ 2.☢ by: Kemper
Shelves: favorites, hick-lit
Friends, when I look out into those teaming masses, that sea of nameless faces mindlessly distracted by some mobile device, do you know what it is that I see reflected back in those blank stares? I tell ya what I see is a whole mess of dull witted, primped, and pampered sissies, as soft as a doughnut. I reckon it's about time to put down that screen, and crack open this good book here, and take a glimpse of how things once was in that not so distant past of ours. Then you ought to thank your luc ...more
Richard Vialet
*4.5 Stars*
Sometimes I find it difficult to put into words what I really liked about a particular book. This novel is one of those. It's a nihilistic portrait of rural life in Ohio and West Virginia for a disparate group of fucked up individuals as they struggle to not only survive within the parameters that life and fate has stuck them with, but also with their own inherent impulses and desires. It's an admirable, well-conceived debut novel that is brutal but manages to not feel gratuitous. The
If you're a fan of crime fiction and don't mind when it bleeds over into southern gothic, then do not miss Donald Ray Pollock's first novel, The Devil All the Time. Critics and readers are comparing his work about the sinning and redemption that takes place by sweaty characters in small hick towns to Flannery O'Connor's. That's a spot-on comparison, especially if compared to O'Connor's novels Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away, but I would add that some of the more repugnant scenes remind m ...more
Paul Nelson
The Devil all the Time is a dark, gritty and downright dirty tale, yeah that's perfect for a story that I found pretty bloody enjoyable in places.

The Players.

Carl and Sandy Henderson are two killers that pick up hitchhikers and have their wicked way with them, photographed for all posterity in their final moments.

Roy and Theodore, lead a chequered existence, preaching the Lord's word while skirting the edge of decency and the law. To prove their faith they kill with all intentions of bringing ba
James Thane
This is a beautifully-written, captivating book about a number of mostly poverty-stricken rural characters, some of whom are down on their luck and others of whom are simply bad to the bone.

Set in rural Ohio and West Virginia, the story takes place over a period from the end of World War II until the middle of the 1960s. It weaves together the strands of several different stories, and the characters include a husband and wife team of serial killers who hunt their male "models" along the nation's
It's been two days since I finished this one.
I am 30% of the way through another novel now, and I still can't get
The Devil All the Time out of my mind.

Wow, where to start? This is an incredibly fast read, just over 260 pages, but there are so many turns to the plotlines that, at one point late in the novel, I was reminded of one development that seemed so long ago that I thought it was from another book!

Donald Ray Pollock has done what I envy in only a few authors' skills (Ruth Rendell's A Sight
Only one of them died with a dream in their head. The rest meet a luckless demise, pants around their ankles, hung by their false gods, snapped taut and broken by love.

And that's clearly Pollock here - his characters are Death, they trade in it and do so cheaply. But blink and you'll miss it, the redemptive seed somewhere in there is planted.

Sneaky Pollock. I was expecting bleak, funereal degenerates, and I got them - but most all were desirous of more, even if that 'more' was more perversity.
switterbug (Betsey)
Out of the funk and foul methane mist comes this almost mythical tale of legendary proportions, a lugubrious story ripe and ribald with gallows humor and the kind of tragedy that is reverent with comic perversity. This amoral cast of hillbilly trash will make your eyes twitch and your forehead darken as you turn the pages with unabashed glee and lick your foaming lips with depraved delight. These are people who are devoted to the Lord with fire and brimstone dedication, a demonic depravity that ...more
Kristin ❋extols death with luminescent brilliance❋
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It's a dark, gritty, disturbing tale of several seemingly separate characters in backwoods Ohio. Sexual perversion dirty, unsanitary dirty, you name it, it leaves you feeling gross during some passages. Reminiscent of the True Detective atmosphere actually, filled with the same unsavory conditions and characters.

The characters are loathsome - a grief stricken man descending into insanity, lonely pious girls, pedophiles, "a demented team of serial killers
Larry Bassett
Willard eased himself down on the high side of the log and motioned for his son the kneel beside him in the dead, soggy leaves. Unless he had whiskey running through his veins, Willard came to the clearing every morning and evening to talk to God. Arvin didn’t know which was worse, the drinking or the praying. As far back as he could remember, it seemed that his father had fought the Devil all the time. Arvin shivered a little with the damp, pulled his coat tighter. He wished her we still in be
Krok Zero
The writing's really more at a three-star level (which rating I gave the same author's fine but overrated Knockemstiff), but the construction satisfies and I dig Pollock's moxy. Promotional comparisons to Flannery and Cormac only make the book look weak, because what keeps me from embracing Pollock is that, for all his true grit, he doesn't seem to be a naturally gifted craftsman of prose. On the other hand, unpretty plainness and blunt declaration is a suitable style for a book about such ugly ...more
Kaydi Johnson
A quick and nerve wracking ride. Brutal and raw. An artfully violent parody about the human condition. It's a book that will make you laugh while you cringe. It's a book that begs you to ask yourself: "Why am I so attracted to such corroded and perverted characters ?" It's a book that begs you to read it-and a book that makes you feel bad for doing so. You might not recommend it to your righteous mom or your little brother. You feel sleazy about turning the pages, but Pollock pulls you in. You w ...more
November 2011

Donald Ray Pollock is back! And while The Devil All the Time begins and ends near Knockemstiff, Ohio, the setting of his first collection of stories, Pollock proves he's no one-trick pony (which is good, 'cause the folks down there in the holler eat one-trick ponies for breakfast).

Here, a number of hard-living characters leave Ohio--a scarred orphan sent to relatives down south, a pair of down-on-their luck preachers on the run from the law, married serial killers with a thing for
Donald Ray Pollock foi operário até aos 50 anos, altura em que decidiu mudar de vida e tentar ser escritor.
Como forma de aprendizagem copiou, durante meses, algumas obras dos seus autores preferidos tal como Flannery OConnor, cujo fanatismo religioso de Sangue Sábio reconheci neste romance.
O seu primeiro trabalho publicado consta de uma colectânia de contos a que se seguiu o romance Sempre o Diabo.

A acção do romance decorre no Ohio, num período de cerca de quinze anos, com início no fim da segu
Pollock wrote with strong prose a powerful,haunting story about residents in two rural communities. It was different how he had many POV characters, some that you read about in few pages and never read about them again. It made the story less predictable and more real with many authentic characters. There were only a few clear main characters.

I was deeply moved by the stories of some of the characters, their situations. Others like Carl Henderson was sick in mundane,creepy way and not just anoth
Donald Ray Pollock’s The Devil All the Time is probably the bleakest, most disturbing book I’ve ever read. It’s also one of the most frightening.

There’s no solid plot to speak of here. The Devil All the Time take place between eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia during the mid-40’s to 60’s and the story is more or less a collection of vignettes loosely held together by common themes of human desperation and isolation which, despite its flawed cast of backwoods preachers, religious fundamenta
To determine if this would be a book you would enjoy, it really boils down to a math equation:

Take Jesco White, add in Robert Duvall's role from The Apostle, subtract any aversion you have to offensive language or general lewdness, multiply by the parts of Blood Meridian than make you question whether you should keep reading on, and then square this by the sum of Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards and the sledgehammer scene from Misery.

If you can hang with where that takes you, you will enjoy. It r
Una storia che tra Ohio e West Virginia mette in scena i più tetri spettacoli della natura umana. Con tinte noir, hard-boiled e a tratti quasi new gothic, Donald Ray Pollock dipinge un mondo abitato da uomini poveri e brutali. Dalle immagini strazianti delle uccisioni alle quali Willard ha assistito durante la seconda guerra mondiale parte un viaggio che attraversa stanze nelle quali aleggia malvagia la malattia, per poi passare a boschi dove si nascondono orrori e disperazione tra sangue, ossa ...more
Is it wrong that violence in The Devil All The Time didn’t offend me? I mean, the blood is gross and scary and all, but there’s more to this book than violence. Donald Ray Pollock draws you in like a campfire storyteller away whom you want to back away, slowly, before you turn and run. I’m not the type to stay up late to finish a book (I like sleep too much) but I finished The Devil All The Time on a marathon Sunday evening partly in the elementary school hallway at my kid’s soccer practice and ...more
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Donald Ray Pollock was born in 1954 and grew up in southern Ohio, in a holler named Knockemstiff. He dropped out of high school at seventeen to work in a meatpacking plant, and then spent thirty-two years employed in a paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio. He graduated from the MFA program at Ohio State University in 2009, and still lives in Chillicothe with his wife, Patsy. His first book, Knockemstif ...more
More about Donald Ray Pollock...
Knockemstiff Hair's Fate / Knockemstiff (Storycuts) Blessed / The Fights (Storycuts) Dynamite Hole / Real Life (Storycuts) Fish Sticks / Rainy Sunday (Storycuts)

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“Unless he had whiskey running through his veins, Willard came to the clearing every morning and evening to talk to God. Arvin didn't know which was worse, the drinking or the praying. As far back as he could remember, it seemed that his father had fought the Devil all the time.” 9 likes
“Some people were born just so they could be buried.” 8 likes
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