Donnybrook
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Donnybrook

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  643 ratings  ·  127 reviews
The raw and as-insane-as-anticipated first novel from Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana

The Donnybrook is a three-day bare-knuckle tournament held on a thousand-acre plot out in the sticks of southern Indiana. Twenty fighters. One wire-fencering. Fight until only one man is left standing while a rowdy festival of onlookers—drunk and high on whatever’s on of...more
Trade Paperback, 242 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by FSG Originals (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Kemper
You say you’d like to spend a weekend getting drunk out in the countryside while watching a bunch of rednecks beat each other bloody with their bare hands? I’ve got just the place. Toss a cooler loaded with beer into the back of your El Camino, do a bump of that crank you scored off that stripper back at the club, make sure that pistol under your seat has a round in the chamber, crank up that cassette tape of Lynard Skynard and then hit the gas so you can join your fellow sports fans at the Donn...more
Trudi
Holy shit snacks, people. This book is intense!!! I need a moment to compose myself. But there will be a review.

I was already familiar with Frank Bill's writing after surviving a close encounter with his debut -- the short story collection Crimes In Southern Indiana. Upon finishing those stories, my only thought was: "Jesus Christ, this man is a lunatic" -- and then immediately, "I want more!" For sure the stories are raw and unpolished, and perhaps a little too overeager to tell rather than sh...more
Greg
"I don't make threats. I offer moments to reconcile one's shitty choices."

Fuck, this is a violent book.

I think I described reading the Flannery O'Connor book last week as being like getting punched in the face, and then kicked in the stomach, and blah blah blah repeating different places you can get hit.

That was more on the emotional level though.

This book is sort of like getting pistol whipped, having your forehead cracked open with some short elbows, beaten in various ways while laying curle...more
Jonfaith

(I did consider writing Mr. Bill. I typing writing that. I don't reflect enough on the virtues of Play-Doh.)

Dear Frank Bill,

I suppose it preferable to trace my position broadly, at least in the beginning. You see, I am reluctant to admit most positions. Life is too exceptional for specifics. My admission tends to dovetail with my respect for literature. Maybe that respect should be a love. Accuse me of indecent infatuations with books. Go ahead. One of the redeeming aspects of literature for me...more
Jacob
March 2013

Q. How do I get to Carnegie Hall?
A. Practice, practice, practice!
Q. How do I get to the Donnybrook?
A. Just follow the trail of bodies--or make one of your own!

The Donnybrook, a meth- and booze-fueled bare-knuckle tournament deep in the heart of Southern Indiana, is an orgy of violence that would make attendees of its original Irish namesake piss themselves in fear. Three days of fighting, twenty fighters per round, last one standing wins a hundred grand. Jarhead Johnny Earl needs that...more
Still
Hyper-violent, apocalyptic and at times as cartoonish as one of Robert E. Howard's Sailor Steve Costigan stories, this novel is a fast read that will give the reader a contact stove-top meth rush without the searing burn.

The approximate plot of this novel is an account of how a backwoods bare-knuckle brawler from Hazard, Kentucky- one Jarhead Johnny Earl -in order to feed his two young sons and obtain medical treatment for his OxyContin-dependent wife, must make an almost biblical trek to enter...more
Lou
Check out my Interview with this author on this new book of his >>> http://more2read.com/Interview-with-Frank-Bill

Grabs you by the jugular into one helluva wild ride and wont let go till its final page.
Delivering words in sentences with precision and control that set the scene, sometimes in rapid fire motion.
Darker than dark, a world unto its own with characters and happenings that rise up from the pages and will fester in your mind with vivid and powerful images of a feast of grit, blo...more
Richard Thomas
THIS REVIEW ORIGINALLY RAN AT THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.

If your best chance of securing a future is to fight in a “Donnybrook,” a three day fighting match where ponying up $1,000 gets you in, and your chances of getting out in one piece are slim, then maybe you need to reconsider the path you have chosen. Frank Bill’s gritty, violent, and grim debut novel, Donnybrook (FSG Originals) is not for the faint of heart, as the body count is high, and the actions desperate and brutal. But buried in the brui...more
Nigel Bird
I received my copy of Donnybrook as an advanced review copy from William Heinemann and was very excited to find it in the post on the day it arrived.

My excitement was based upon my love of Frank Bill’s collection ‘Crimes In Southern Indiana’ and other stories of his that are peppered around the internet and a range of highly-regarded anthologies.

I had a strong sense about the world I’d be entering – something strong and dark and gritty – but was unsure of the author’s ability to complete a novel...more
Gordon
This one'll leave you gasping for air, shredded, and possibly bowels-evacuated. Visceral is an understatement. I read it in two days, so it's a page-turner, crosscutting scenes between all the principals to keep the pace thrumming and tense. It's got a high body count, and no one emerges unscathed. Maimed, most likely. My only criticism is that some of the descriptions (tight and effective as they are) get a bit repetitive sometimes. Many of the characters—and there are a lot—at first seem so si...more
Ctgt
Remember the line let the bodies hit the floor from Drowning Pool? That's the way this book starts and it never lets up. From the gun shop stick up at the beginning to the final scenes at the Donnybrook, people are droppin' like flies. All the way from "relatively" minor beatdowns to cold blooded, no second thoughts murder. Oh, best way to stick up a gun shop? Just bring ammo, guns are already there.

I can't say this was a fun read but it certainly was entertaining. If you're looking for a feel g...more
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here: http://www.mybookishways.com/2013/03/...

Jarhead Earl is desperate. His children, Zeek and Caleb, and their mother, Tammy, don’t have enough to eat, and Jarhead is determined to remedy that. As Donnybrook opens, we join Jarhead as he’s robbing a gun store of the $1000 he needs for his entry fee into Donnybrook (he plans to pay it back, too), a 3-day bare-knuckle fighting tournament in the backwoods of southern Indiana with a huge cash prize for the man that comes...more
Owen
Despite the fact that I have now read two books about Southern Indiana (both by Frank Bill), I am still 99% sure I could not find Indiana on a map.

Once again we are given a violent and bloody book about the fine folks of Indiana from Frank Bill, this time a novel.

The rednecks are still at it (incest and meth) and now they are preparing for an event called a Donnybrook, which I can only describe as a one-event redneck Olympics. It is like a bare knuckle fighting tournament, but the audience is ju...more
Liz Ellen Vogan
I noticed the blurbs on the back of this book by Daniel Woodrell and Bonnie Jo Campbell and thought "perfect". I am drawn to novels that explore rural poverty and violence. But unlike Woodrell or Campbell, this one felt exploitative and lacked depth. There was nowhere near enough development of the three characters that had any potential redeeming qualities (Jarhead, Whalen, and Purcell). There were many opportunities to delve deeper into the story that just didn't happen, and that is a shame be...more
Thomas Pluck
Frank Bill takes the Irish legend of the Donnybrook and brings it to southern Indiana for a rollicking hellride through the hollers and the heartland with his trademark poetic brutality. A great story and a great read set in a mythic America that will please fans of George Saunders, Donald Ray Pollock, Chuck Palahniuk and Daniel Woodrell.
Comes out in March. Get in line. You won't regret it.
Kg
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abigail
A bit like reading a Quentin Tarentino script...bloody but funny.
Jonpaul
Easily one of the worst pieces of crap ever published.
Shannon
All right! A little misogynistic novel for subway reading featuring a few female characters in various states of peril (victims of incest, meth, pills, attempted rapes, beatings, gunshots). Two men fighting their way to Donnybrook for a payoff. Also a random Chinese martial arts pro. Another character with a randomly redneck reason for going to Donnybrook. Racism. When all is said and done, there is barely a full mouth of teeth left among them.

That's right, in case you were unsure, this novel i...more
Isaac
Frank Bill’s debut novel is a high-octane, high-testosterone, hell-ride of a read where mayhem is unleashed at the opening few paragraphs. The characters eat, breathe and sleep (rarely) ugly. Some vent vile racism, hint at incest and other horrendous acts. The methamphetamine, betrayal and other lawless pursuits are perpetrated by characters with little to no redeeming qualities. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find one likable person in this novel. However, there is so much more to “Donny...more
MSJ
We were first introduced to the idea of a Donnybrook in Frank Bill’s debut short story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories. In “Cold, Hard Truth” unemployed and desperate Bellmont McGill kills his father-in-law so he can inherit his plot of land in Orange County, Indiana and hold a 3-day bare-knuckles tournament to rack in serious cash. Donnybrook picks up some time later and details how this redneck festival became legend and sometimes the only glimmer of hope as the winner takes hom...more
Tim Jones
If you could distill an ass-whoopin' into text, I think you'd get this book. The brilliance of Donnybrook is that it takes a boilerplate Kung-Fu film plot, 3 different fighters of different motivations headed to the same tournament, and slams it into a hard-ass Southern milieu. Think The Devil's Rejects choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping. Bill can write a fight scene so that you can see it coming together blow by blow in your head.
Kirk Smith
My mind will be filled with images of human flesh pounded to hamburger until I am well into my next book. The equivalent of cockfighting or pit bull fighting except with men. Lots more exposure to the Meth world. Can't say I gained anything. NEXT!
Kelley Tackett
Frank Bill is the real deal. The only think I dislike about him is that he doesn't write fast enough. Quit your day job driving a fork lift and write full-time!

"Everyone is Hazard knew Dote only deposited his sales once a month. Kept a safe and register packed with big bills. Had never kept a loaded pistol behind the counter for personal protection. There was never a need to worry about being robbed in a small-town gun shop out in the hills of southeastern Kentucky where, after first grade, ever...more
Tony
I picked this up while on a trip to Indiana, mainly because when I travel I like to read fiction set in the area I'm visiting. The book's premise also caught my attention -- various colorful characters make their way to a famous annual bare-knuckles cage match tournament where the winner takes home $100,000. Unfortunately, despite it being a quick read, it's boring -- mainly because there is little to differentiate any of the characters or their actions.

I have no issue with violence in film or f...more
Andrew
Although this is a novel it almost feels like another collection of stories. Of course they are split up and all tied together. Overall I found it a quick, easy, and enjoyable read, albeit a wild one. Typically this isn't my cup of tea,but gotta support indiana writers. Gritty but not at the sake of great writing. There was a moment when I felt I hated the book, but soon after I was completely sucked in and couldn't put it down. Wouldn't be shocked if it became a Tarantino film.
Dan Downing
This deserves Five Stars: That does not mean Bill and Billy Shakespeare are equals. It means that Frank Bill does Five Star work in his chosen field: country noir. Or maybe drawing-less comics: your choice.
For my money, he gives a rip roaring, amazingly well crafted tale, juggling violence, several converging plot lines and bizarre but believable names--a host of them, because there is a lot going on here.

The Donnybrook is a large bare knuckle cage fight, and we travel with a number of people to...more
Mark
After reading Frank Bill's first book, a collection of short stories called Crimes in Southern Indiana, this book makes me suspect he might be a one-trick pony. But he performs that one trick with masterful brilliance. Reading Frank Bill is an ever-heightening, increasingly intense adrenaline rush. You can actually feel the pace of this book picking up, and the pages start flying by as if to prove it.

The publisher's descriptions focus on the singular event of the Donnybrook. But that event is li...more
Jessica
That was a freaking adrenaline rush from start to finish. Between the beautifully described fight scenes and the wonderful use of cussing and the great little added touches (like what music is playing in the background in certain scenes, or grotesque descriptions of wounds)...it was an adventure and a half and I loved every bloody bit of it.
Shayne
oh, jesus christ, this book....
this book is brutal.
this book is fight after fight after fight after fight.
this book is full of shitty people doing shitty things to other shitty people.
this book has crank stuffed into every paragraph, and blood clotting on each page's margins.
this book is damn near perfect.
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“We got no jobs, no money, no power, no nothin', nothin' to live for 'cept vice and indulgence. That's how they control us. But it's falling apart. What we got is our land and our machines, our families and our ability to protect it all, to keep them alive. We got our hands. Ones who'll survive will be the ones can live from the land. Can wield a gun. Those folks'll fight for what little they've got. They'll surprise the criminals with their own savagery. Man, woman, and child will be tested. Others'll be too weak and scared. Uneducated in common sense. Won't know what's happened. But believe me, war is coming.” 6 likes
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