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The Devil All the Time

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  7,046 ratings  ·  1,253 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...more
Hardcover, 261 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Doubleday (first published 2011)
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The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray PollockWinter's Bone by Daniel WoodrellDry Bones in the Valley by Tom BoumanKnockemstiff by Donald Ray PollockTomato Red by Daniel Woodrell
Country Noir
1st out of 123 books — 109 voters
The Art of Fielding by Chad HarbachThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittThe Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesThe Marriage Plot by Jeffrey EugenidesState of Wonder by Ann Patchett
2012 Tournament of Books
10th out of 16 books — 265 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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...more
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...more
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.
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....more
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
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...more
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
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
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
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
Jul 05, 2014 Shelby *wants some flying monkeys* rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Shelby *wants some flying monkeys* by: Kristin
Shelves: read-2014, hicklit
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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....more
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
4.5 stars!
This book was excellent. Southern Gothic/Crime - gritty, grimy, sick and desperate. With a tiny dash of hope that makes you feel glad that you read it. I know that I am.
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...more
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 O´Connor, 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 seg...more
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...more
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...more
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...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
The book was even darker and bleaker than I imagined, with barely any redemption present among the disturbed, violent, and unfortunate cast of characters. There is also an undertone of misogyny that I couldn't reconcile myself to--all sex that does happen is driven by hate, violence, and severe power imbalances. While the cast of characters is colorful (in its own warped way), I gave up caring about most of them when it was apparent their lives were headed nowhere but towards further misery, vio...more
Another amazing book from Donald Ray Pollock. If you've read Knockemstiff, you'll recognize some of the characters and locations in The Devil All the Time. There are several intertwining story lines, and, although it's obvious how some of them will weave together, how the author accomplishes this is always surprising. I've seen this book referred to as "southern gothic" -- I'm certainly no expert on the genre, but it seems like a fitting description to me. The people you meet in these pages are...more
Thank heavens The Devil All The Time is fiction. Even though I'm not naive enough to believe the sadistic monsters in this story couldn't be real, I'm glad I'm not meeting them on a regular basis. The characters here are some of the most despicable you ever could imagine and Donald Ray Pollack does a great job bringing them to life.

From the hills of West Virginia to a sorry town named Knockemstiff in Ohio we follow a cast of clashing misfits from just after World War II to the 60's. The devil m...more
I'm tired right now, I struggle to find enthusiasm for much in the way of fiction or cinema, I've got my own art to create. And by create I mean dedicate every single waking moment to it and then dream of it too at those times when I manage to sleep. And yet, here is this wonderful novel from Donald Ray Pollock that captures everything wonderful about this strand of "hick-lit" that I've been discovering in the past year or so. Full of wonderfully drawn, real people living interesting and varied...more
Oct 28, 2011 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of dark literary novels
Recommended to Ed by: some reader on twitter
If you like your dark literary novels served up with the LOL gallows humor of early Harry Crews or Charles Willeford while heated up with the religious conflicts of Flannery O'Connor with a mean dash of Barry Hannah's neo-gothic, then The Devil All the Time is just the novel for you to read. The characters are seriously flawed in their own way, but they also have their reasons to be so. The three story threads that track along will intertwine at the climax. The setting is mountainous West Virgin...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.” 7 likes
“Some people were born just so they could be buried.” 4 likes
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