Trudi's Reviews > The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
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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 up.

One of the things that impressed me so much here is how well Pollock is able to juggle multiple narrative threads, do each of them justice, and have them collide and intersect with one another in a convincing, satisfying way. He makes it look so easy. Of course it all comes together in the end, but I can't help but think how easily this could have been majorly flubbed, or how forced and deus ex machina it could have read in the hands of a lesser writer.

This is a dark novel, full of dark deeds, it almost suffocates you. This is not a novel of redemption or hope but an unflinching look into the dark heart of man (and woman), bringing all the monsters that lurk there out into the light, into the open to be seen and feared. I found parts of this novel very difficult to read, and not because Pollock is explicit in his descriptions, because he isn’t. He refrains from showing the reader everything, leaving room for what you can imagine -- and isn’t that always worse? I know it is for me. He gives you just enough rope to hang yourself with. But his prose is vivid nevertheless, and there are scenes from this novel that I will never forget.

Unlike Frank Bill's short story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana , Pollock injects an emotionality here and manages to humanize his characters even as he shows how monstrous they can be. While I absolutely loved Crimes, there is a humanity distinctly missing from Bill's characters -- the violence and hatred taking precedence over everything else. Pollock's writing here is closer to Woodrell's Winter's Bone, another outstanding piece of writing in this vein of small town, hardscrabble folk. All men represent the very best of their craft however, when it comes to capturing a sense of place and the people who live there.
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. ~The Devil All The Time


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Quotes Trudi Liked

Donald Ray Pollock
“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.”
Donald Ray Pollock, The Devil All the Time


Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen "gritty, raw, uncompromising prose that snaps and bites at your soft spots."

That is gold. Well put. I need to read this.


message 2: by Crowinator (new) - added it

Crowinator Excellent review and recommendation! I've had an ARC of this book for forever and I keep meaning to read it. I'll move it up on my list of adult books to read. I've never heard of redneck noir before but it's very descriptive term.


Erin (Paperback Stash) Great review and recommendation!


Trudi Stephen wrote: "That is gold. Well put. I need to read this."

Thanks Stephen. Do read this. I think you will enjoy it very much!


Trudi Crowinator wrote: "I've never heard of redneck noir before..."

Thanks Crowinator! I will say approach this one with caution -- it is very dark and demented in places. I got "redneck noir" from Kemper, and I think that's just perfect :)


Trudi Erin wrote: "Great review and recommendation!"

Thanks Erin!


Jason is this more a novel? or linked stories?


Trudi Jason wrote: "is this more a novel? or linked stories?"

Oh, it's definitely a novel Jason. With very different characters who each have their own stories, but it all comes together beautifully as a cohesive whole.

Pollock does have an outstanding short story collection however called Knockemstiff. Loved it!


Jason fantastic. I am not really in the mood for short stories, and this one seems a bit violent coming out of Sharp Objects, so ill get into it after the book im reading now. People seem to enjoy this one more than his previous work.


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