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The Heavenly Table

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,649 ratings  ·  505 reviews
Cane, Cob and Chimney Jewett are young Georgia sharecroppers held under the thumb of their God-fearing father, Pearl. When he dies unexpectedly, they set out on horseback for Canada, robbing and looting their way to wealth and infamy.

But little goes to plan and soon they’re pursued by both the authorities and the stories emanating from their trail of destruction – making t
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 20th 2017 by Vintage (first published July 12th 2016)
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Alex Bear If you have not read other Donald Ray Pollock books, they are a must! no one does it like him.

Daniel Woodrell is a friend of Donald Ray Pollock and…more
If you have not read other Donald Ray Pollock books, they are a must! no one does it like him.

Daniel Woodrell is a friend of Donald Ray Pollock and specializes in these kind of gothic american crime novels.

The Contortionist's Handbook is a good one with a witty narrator who cannot be trusted and has lived a life of crime.

Layer Cake (which is also my favorite movie) is a humorist caper. It reads like a Guy Ritchie movie.

Bright's Passage (by my favorite musician, Josh Ritter) is set in the same time period, and is more about the hero against the crime happening at the time. Very poetic, reads like one of his amazing songs would.

Finally, I will list Geek Love. It is not about crime per say (unless creating a cult of "freaks" is a crime.... which I guess it is)... but nothing has creeped me out in the way Pollock has, besides Geek Love. (less)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,649 ratings  ·  505 reviews

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This Donald Ray Pollock sure can write a spiritual journey. This one is about a little white bird, a hermit and the Heavenly Table and it takes up about 3 pages early on in this story and then a couple more closer to the end. The other 350+ pages are a hellacious ride through 1917 historical fiction.

"I go overboard with the trouble." That's what I heard Donald Ray say in an interview.
At the root of most of the trouble in this story is a book, The Life and Times of Bloody Bill Bucket by Charles
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
It's amazing that this book was written by the same person that wrote The Devil All the Time. This one as much as it makes my heart hurt to say, reads like a first novel. It's kinda messy.

It starts with poor farmer Pearl Jewett, he loses his wife in a weird way that I was sure would have some meaning later in the story. I set myself up for disappointment several times thinking that in this book. Pearl then finds himself homeless with his three boys. None of whom would win any awards in the brain
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, grit-lit
i interview donald ray pollock HERE:

best day ever.

Leaning over the horn of his saddle, Chimney spat and then said, "Well, I don't know who those ol' boys are back there, but I don't figure they can shoot any better than we can."

"Maybe, but there must be fifteen of them in that pack."

"So?" Chimney said. "That many don't even amount to one box of shells."

so, donald ray pollock has written another book, and it's got all the things we like: outlaws and whores
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
Gothic grit lit to the core. Dark, dismal, and full of despair - just the way I like it.

The year is 1917 and the ill-fated Jewett brothers have run afoul of the law. They have managed to bumble their way through a handful of bank robberies with limited success. With a price on their heads, they desperately ride toward Canada, hoping to start their lives anew. The Jewett boys find themselves taking a breather in the small town of Meade, Ohio. This is an ill-conceived notion, as they are not smar
Navidad Thélamour
When I sat down with The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock, I was all set to have my love for Southern Gothicism stoked here—forget that, even just my love for a great read in the Southern tradition. Anyone who follows my reviews knows that I’m a sucker for it. Yet, The Heavenly Table fell unexpectedly flat for me, I’m sorry to say.

Here you’ll find the story of the Jewett boys, regular hillbillies turned cowboys in 1917 Georgia, chasing a Buffalo Bill-type dream and their own versions of “
Diane S ☔
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lewd, crude and rude, yep about sums it up. Reminded me a bit of the dark humor in The Sisters Brothers, plus the fact that the three brothers, two strangely named set off on a crime spree after the death of their father. He who always preached, in the midst of poverty and hunger, that they would be rewarded in the great beyond by being treated to a big banquet at the heavenly table. Crime spree, plenty of gore, prostitutes visited in a barn, a military encampment, all make for a good old rural ...more
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the bad bleeds, then is the tragedy good.
Vindice, The Revenger's Tragedy

Love Child of Ms. Southern Gothic and Mr. Spaghetti Western

(revisited rating, 8 months from reading: bumping up because this seems closer to 5 than 4)

From northern Georgia to southern Ohio (a trek covering the heart of Hillbilly Country), Pollock takes us with a trio of 3 lowborn, ruffian brothers on the run from the law in a sort of darkly crimson comic caper, a murderous meshugaas (Yiddish for craziness).

While Poll
Rae Meadows
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book s a 3.5 for me, but I rounded up because Pollock has such a wild love of language and story. I think this novel is a bit of a mess, but it was also quite entertaining, sometimes funny, and even a little moving at the end. Although on the surface it a hyper-realistic depiction of early 20th century southern Ohio, I would venture it is more of an alternate reality, history as carnival sideshow, a morally bankrupt and filthy world where you root for the bad guys who, in comparison to ever ...more
America in 1917 wasn't the best of times. With the advent of the automobile, (and the many resulting accidents), indoor water closets,(or lack thereof), and WWI far away, but in the background, it wasn't exactly a fun period in our history.

The Heavenly Table introduces us to the Jewett Family, below dirt poor and with a father gone slightly insane since his wife died. He's trying to raise his boys, Chimney, Cob and Cane, the right way, but they're nearly starving to death; trading today's joy f
Diane Barnes
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb mentions that this is reminicent of Flannery O'Connor and Cormac McCarthy, but I think I would throw in Mark Twain as well, if Twain had ever gone so dark. Gothic....well yes, but not southern gothic since it takes place in Ohio. Dark....well yes, but saved by the humor. Funny....well yes, but leading us to some very bad places and characters. I guess this one defies description or categorizing.

The Heavenly Table is where good people go when they die, if they have suffered enough here
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-reads
What a crazy ride. The last few days have felt like Bonnie & Clyde teamed up with Butch & Sundance to kidnap me by horseback, then toss me into the backseat of an unreliable Model T and haul me on a cross country crime spree. The year is 1917, when lawlessness still reigned.

This was my first reading of anything by Donald Ray Pollock, so some of my high rating comes from my numerous WHAT THE HELL??? reactions (plus I just finished a real downer of a book, so this was fun). You know that s
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! It's rude, it's crude, it's vulgar, it's ribald (I had to use this word, yes, it's my new word I learned from reading Cormac) but it's also redeeming. However, this redemption of sorts, doesn't come until much later in the book. Repeat, "MUCH LATER IN THE BOOK." This book is not for the faint or the easily offended. I'm still thinking who in good faith can I recommend this book to?! You've got to get through some rowdy and raunchy scenes and characters that are downright no good. It is dark ...more
Paul Bryant
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
If this is the first book by Mr Pollock you read you will think this is a vile hellish descent into American rural lowlife but fans of the previous two will be amazed that some of the characters are actually nice and some of them are allowed to feel …er, what’s the word…. Wait….oh yes…happy. Compared to the two previous Pollocks, this is Little House on the Prairie featuring Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm on guest vocals.

The story we have been told many times before – dirt-poor farm boys stumble int
*3.5 Stars*
Donald Ray Pollock's new novel can be equally frustrating and rewarding. Especially if you go into it expecting certain things based on the book blurb summary given by the publisher. I really enjoyed Pollock's writing in this one, just as tough and bold as we've come to expect in his work, but this time it has an added dose of black-humored wit that helped support the more pulp-y tone this book carried. Another thing that Pollock fans will expect are colorful, memorable characters, wh
This is a raw but very funny multi-stranded Western. The central plot focuses on the hapless Jewett brothers, who after their father’s death and in homage to a pulp novel they adore become bank robbers and set off from Georgia for the Canadian border. Never mind that they’re just “three dipshit farm boys in dirty white shirts riding horses.” Once in Ohio, their paths cross with the other characters and subplots – an Army training camp where many young men who couldn’t locate Germany on a map are ...more
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: realism, crime, historical
Most people, Cob concluded, weren't nearly as decent as they imagined themselves to be. Just look at the way he had turned out.

Pollock does picaresque as the Jewett brothers take to the road armed with life lessons from a Confederate pulp novel. Cane, Cob, and Chimney Jewett have grown up hard-working and dirt-poor, the sons of sharecropper Pearl Jewett, who is convinced that all his suffering will prove worthwhile if it affords him a place at "the heavenly table," which is consolation you nee
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"It still amazed him how you could just be plugging along, stuck in the deepest depression, and then something a little bit wonderful happened that suddenly changed your outlook on everything, that turned your world from darkness to light, made you glad you were still walking the earth."
- Donald Ray Pollack, The Heavenly Table


I really liked Pollock's first novel The Devil All the Time. I thought of it as a mash-up between Chuck Palahniuk and Dashiell Hammett. I've heard people talk about this b
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
4.5 stars
Rough and raunchy The Heavenly Table is a story of three brothers (the Jewetts) setting out to make their way out of poverty, the outlaw way, after the death of their father Pearl. Pollock introduces a long list of characters in this book and you wonder at times how it is all going to come together – but he does a brilliant job weaving it into a colorful tale; converging the character's lives along the way. This Southern Gothic tale is dark, vile, humorous and full of symbolism.
Like ot
Dan Schwent
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books, 2016
When their father dies, the Jewett brothers are left without guidance until they decide to emulate their hero, a dime-novel hero called Bloody Bill Bucket. Their bloody trail crosses the paths of a farmer named Ellsworth Fiddler and a hobo named Sugar. Will the brothers make it to Canada alive to live out their days in peace?

I got this from Netgalley.

The Heavenly Table is the tale of the three Jewett brothers and the people they encounter after striking out on their own after their father Pearl
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Southern Gothic is alive and well and generously dosed with a bit of Hillbilly Crime Noir and Redneck Existentialism in The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock. This is his third book and with it, he has pretty much cemented his status as the 21th century’s answer to William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy all rolled into one. In his first two books, He introduced us to the town of Knockemstiff, Ohio and in this one, he turns Meade, Ohio of 1917 into a tableau of down-and-outs, ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
In Pollock’s last novel, THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME, the writer wove a tale of religious fanatics and serial killers, lowlifes and outliers. If Quentin Tarantino had a baby with Cormac McCarthy, you might have a son that writes like DRP. His narratives are suffused with gunfights, whores, vigilantes, alcoholics, decayed and diseased animals, religious fanatics, deviant sex, psychopaths, and bloodletting crimes. THE HEAVENLY TABLE is a western style pulp fiction, circa 1917, which starts between the ...more
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like chewing dirt. Pollock's still angry, bizarre, violent, raw, raunchy, and darkly hilarious. He writes like he sold his soul to the devil for the gift, and his stories feel like they should be read in the back rooms of dens of iniquity then slept off for months. I've been hooked since [Knockemstiff], unable to kick the Pollock habit. It's not as tight as his previous, but it's still decadently twisted and addictive. The only reason I'm withholding that 5th * is to hold onto what's left of my ...more
Kirk Smith
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you do not feel damaged by the time you finish this then you were probably not right in the head when you started! This is the darkest and grittiest of southern gothic. It is very much like spectating at a train wreck. Pollock introduces us to no less than twenty five characters and most have detailed side stories. Reading is like being in a marathon, to complete it is something to be proud of. It means you have waded through the muck , and survived. In spite of this there is a good story her ...more
Sonja Arlow
3.5 stars

If I didn’t know better, I would have thought this book was written by Patrick DeWitt. In fact, it feels as if this story takes place in the same universe as Sisters Brothers.

The Devil all the Time had a massive amount of violence and disturbing content, but it felt like there was a clear purpose to it. With this book it felt like the author included gross sex/grit/violence just for shits and giggles.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this often funny, gritty story and can still see the stro
David Joy
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Heavenly Table reads like Cormac McCarthy's Harrogate commandeered Huck and Tom's raft at gunpoint and yelled, "PADDLE!" It roars from the first line, but the gradual increase in pacing till that last third tears off like a steam engine might just be Donald Ray Pollock's greatest achievement yet, and that's saying an awful, awful lot.
Been waiting for a new Donald Ray Pollock book for years as I loved The Devil All the Time - almost a George RR Martin sort of situation - but sorry to say that I found this one a bit disappointing. It had all the usual extreme stuff that was in other books by this author and some great characters. With the short chapters, it should have been a quick and enjoyable read but it took me ages and was a bit of struggle to get through. The chapters on their own were like a series of interesting short ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Oh goodness, yes. Donald Ray Pollock is my dark, Appalachian Ohio homeboy. So excited for this egalley!

Three and a half stars. It's not quite as tight as The Devil All the Time--it's a little clunky and it meanders a little too much, but it's still pretty solid grit-lit. Full review to come.
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kicking out the cobwebs of the southern gothic genre of O'Conner, McCarthy, and Thompson with an exuberant display of black comedy and generous vision of humanity and all its beautiful and terrifying impulses. An inferno or odyssey filled with fools, dreamers, con men, and serial killers. Moments of horror and violence but also moments of sweetness, beauty, and even happiness. Told with a wicked sense of humor compared on the back cover to Gogol and I have to agree. An upside down carnivalesque ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
I really liked “The Devil all the Time”, so I know that the author has real skill, but this book was pointless and became increasingly unpleasant to read. It’s part grit lit and part a shaggy dog story with sick humor. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in which the male characters had worse attitudes towards the female characters (who exist only to service the men). This book was extremely penis-centered. It’s like the author accepted a challenge to see how many times he could work the word pe ...more
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Donald Ray Pollock was born in 1954 and grew up in southern Ohio, in a holler named Knockemstiff. He dropped out of high school at seventeen to work in a meatpacking plant, and then spent thirty-two years employed in a paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio. He graduated from the MFA program at Ohio State University in 2009, and still lives in Chillicothe with his wife, Patsy. His first book, Knockemstif ...more
“He had never met anyone who played music for a living who wasn’t fucked-up in some sad or depraved way, the same as those who painted pictures or wrote books or traipsed about spouting lines on a stage from the latest melodrama. In his opinion, only the truly miserable were really any good at artistic endeavors of any kind.” 1 likes
“It made no sense, the way Americans sometimes went bananas over certain people for absolutely no reason, as if they were just drawing names out of a hat.” 1 likes
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