Gary Lee's Reviews > Knockemstiff

Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock
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Mar 31, 09

bookshelves: fun-reads, literatti, published-in-2009, short-stories
Read in March, 2009

So much modern/contemporary fiction is incredibly pretensious and precious -- many writers these days try their best to make it look like they have talent, rather than spending a few years honing their craft and really finding their voice. It's possible that it's mostly the fault of the publishing industry.
But then, a real gem will slip through the works, and show that it's probably not the fault of the publishing industry that most modern (U.S.) fiction is utter shit.
Pollock's debut collection is truly one of those gems. It displays a wonderful, confident new voice that will hopefully have a bright future ahead. It's dark without using the cliched references to Sept. 11th. It's gritty. It's funny without resorting to schtick. And it has an urgent, down-home voice that's missing in current literary fiction.

Being a short story collection, it is a bit uneven at moments, and it repeats itself a little -- but overall, it's a welcomed supply of oxygen in an industry that is doing its best to suffocate itself.
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