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Knockemstiff: Book summary and reviews of Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock

Knockemstiff

by Donald Ray Pollock

Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock X
Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock
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  • Published Mar 2008
    206 pages
    Genre: Short Stories

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Book Summary

In this unforgettable work of fiction, Donald Ray Pollock peers into the soul of a tough Midwestern American town to reveal the sad, stunted but resilient lives of its residents.

Spanning a period from the mid-sixties to the late nineties, the linked stories that comprise Knockemstiff feature a cast of recurring characters who are woebegone, baffled and depraved - but irresistibly, undeniably real. Rendered in the American vernacular with vivid imagery and a wry, dark sense of humor, these thwarted and sometimes violent lives jump off the page at the reader with inexorable force. A father pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up body builder. A psychotic rural recluse comes upon two siblings committing incest and feels compelled to take action. Donald Ray Pollock presents his characters and the sordid goings-on with a stern intelligence, a bracing absence of value judgments, and a refreshingly dark sense of bottom-dog humor.

With an artistic instinct honed on the works of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews, Pollock offers a powerful work of fiction in the classic American vein. Knockemstiff is a genuine entry into the literature of place.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The most startling thing about these stories is they have an aura of truth." - Publishers Weekly

"Pollock grabs by the throat and doesn't let go." - Kirkus Reviews

"Pollock's voice is fresh and full-throated, and while these stories travel negligible distances, even from one another, the best of them leave an indelible smear." - The New York Times

"Knockemstiff is a powerful, remarkable, exceptional book…Pollock knows these people, what they want and think and fee, and he takes us there without flinching." - Los Angeles Times

"These are absorbing stories that linger and haunt. They crept up on me, leaving me breathless and shaken." - The Oregonian

"[Donald Ray Pollock] could be the next important voice in American fiction." – Wall Street Journal

"Startling, bleak, uncompromising and funny…This is as raw as American fiction gets. It is an unforgettable experience." – San Francisco Chronicle

"Profanely comic…Pollock's tales are spiked with a lurid panache that handily earns its own literary genre: Southern Ohio Gothic." – Elle

This information about Knockemstiff was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Donald Ray Pollock Author Biography

Photo: Patsy Pollock

Donald Ray Pollock was born in 1954 and grew up in southern Ohio, in Knockemstiff (now a ghost town close to Chillicothe). 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, a collection of short stories titled Knockemstiff, won the 2009 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Third Coast, The Journal, Sou'wester, Chiron Review, River Styx, Boulevard, Folio, Granta, NYTBR, Washington Square, and The Berkeley Fiction Review. The Devil All the Time, his first novel, came out in July 2011 and had been published in...

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Link to Donald Ray Pollock's Website

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