Tom's Reviews > Knockemstiff

Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock
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's review
Mar 11, 2012

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bookshelves: ohioana
Read in March, 2012

This book took me a while to get into. Many of the early stories featured strange and depraved characters, and the people were pathetic. However, as the collection progresses the characters become more interesting and pathetic melts into empathetic. The last story, which connects with the first, brings things to an interesting close. I am curious to know when each chapter was written and how they were arranged to see whether this was the author steadily learning his craft or just a coincidence.

Generally, every character is an unlikeable screw-up. While some of the earlier characters are just downers to imagine people like that existing in the real world, the latter characters have a more tragic existence. Their dreams and motivations are clearer, and the enormous gaps between their fantasies and realities are powerful. Due to the Ohio setting and the roman-fleuve style, this book gets lumped in my head with Winesburg, Ohio. Both seem to reflect on the claustrophobia of small-town or rural life, and while I prefer Sherwood Anderson over Donald Ray Pollock, this book was an interesting read by a fairly new Ohio author.
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08/21/2016 marked as: read

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