Krok Zero's Reviews > The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
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's review
Sep 07, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fall-2011
Read in September, 2011

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 goings-on, and Devil actually goes down easier than the milieu-similar but far more language-oriented work of Daniel Woodrell (I've only read Winter's Bone, so, grain of salt). Never less than thoroughly engrossing, and if Pollock doesn't have anything particularly insightful to say about rural American violence, nor does he use it cheaply or without earning the right. And for a novel that's a) pretty short and b) populated by "grotesques," Pollock manages to etch a slew of memorable characters, and not without a measure of empathy and compassion for even the worst of them. I like.
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