Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

Roy looked at his crippled cousin with tears running down his face. "Jesus, I think I killed her."

Theodore pushed himself closer and pressed the back of his dirty hand against her face. "She is dead, all right."
~~Page 36

Title: The Devil All the Time
Author: Donald Ray Pollock
ISBN: 9780385535045
Publisher: Doubleday/2011
Pages: 304

It is one of the most compelling novels I read in recent times. The characters are weird, bizarre, almost menacing at times. Almost all of the characters are poor and very much real. It is not a commentary on religion or evil. It is about people we see around us, fanatics, over the edge, yet living a normal life.

The setting is in West Virginia and Ohio, the backroads of rural America where people are poor and down-trodden, homes are ramshackle and filthy. We get to meet Willard Russell who has served his time in the South Pacific and can't get over the brutality of war. He puts all of that behind him when he meets and falls in love with the beautiful Charlotte. Willard and Charlotte have a son, Arvin Eugene. Then we meet Carl and Sandy Henderson, married psychopaths who have a terrifying and disturbing hobby of murdering males they meet while driving around. Carl has this habit of photographing the victims before they are killed. . Two other weird characters are, a so-called preacher, Roy, and his wheelchair bound cousin and partner, Theodore. Both are running away from the law after murdering. How the life of Arvin Eugene is connected with all of this is the main highlight of the novel.

All of these lives become entangled together, which propels the story forward in a very good pace. Pollock's descriptions of the characters were so vivid that you can almost see their gestures, features and idiosyncrasies. The novel is gut-wrench at times. And the negatives and positive aspects of the characters gets blurred. The writing is too good and the characterization of a whole cast of people is finely-tuned. A mixture of religion, southern Gothic and haunting people, as well as places and the plots create a dark story. This novel is not for those who like happy endings. However, I found the ending totally apt, as I thought there can't be anything better.

Here I leave you with young Arvin's thoughts about his father, before Willard committed Suicide, after his wife's death: 

“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.”

25 comments:

Paulita said...

This writer grew up here in Ohio and went to college at OSU as an adult. Suddenly, he's a breakaway author. I think his stuff is too violent for me, but I'm glad you enjoyed it. Here's Mine

Cathy De Los Santos said...

Sounds like a really interesting read for sure. Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great week.

JC Jones said...

Interesting way to live. Thanks for visiting.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Ah, this one sounds good! I like books that are gritty and real.

Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

Nise' said...

Sounds intense.

Tribute Books Mama said...

A captivating read.

http://tributebooksmama.blogspot.com/2012/07/teaser-tuesday_17.html

Heather said...

Sounds pretty intense and graphic. Here's hoping you enjoy(ed) it! Thanks for visiting...

Li @ rulethewaves.net said...

Yikes, doesn't sound like they're in a great situation at the moment. Sounds like a fascinating book, thanks for sharing!

Thanks also for dropping by my blog earlier =)

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf said...

Wow...sounds like a bit of a disturbing read for me!

Thanks for stopping by My Teaser Tuesdays Post!

♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

D said...

Going around killing people.. cousins? Seriously?!
Thanks for sharing and stepping by my TT

C.M.Brown said...

Gripping teaser.

Thanks for stopping by mine.

You will find mine here:
CarolynBrown-Books

Jennifer Messerschmidt said...

Interesting. Sounds sad and intense. Thanks for stopping by My TT!

Yvonne said...

Very intriguing and suspenseful.

Lizzy said...

Another sad teaser, I'm seeing a theme among the blogs this week. Great pick!

Sabina said...

Great teaser! Thanks for stopping by my TT =)

Maryellen said...

Might be too violent for me, but the teaser piqued my interest...interesting for sure.

Thanks for stopping by my TT.

Have a great week.

Dalene @ A Date with a Book said...

Sounds like it would definitely be up my alley! Thanks for stopping by earlier :)

Wickedly Delicious said...

Wow that is a teaser.

Have a great week
My Teaser Tuesday

Kate said...

Sounds intriguing and a bit disturbing!

carol said...

I have his short story collection but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Alyce said...

That does sound really dark, but fascinating. I haven't read anything by this author before.

Nora said...

This sound very interesting. I will have a look for it at the library.

Jess said...

Wow! Love this teaser and your thoughts about this book. I'm thinking about derange characters living on a violent subculture they find comforting and acceptable.

Great teaser! Returning the visit
Jess@ Jessy's Bookends

Melissa said...

Sounds far too disturbing for me! But, thanks for stopping by my TT

stacybuckeye said...

Not all of us in Ohio are downtrodden ;) Looks pretty good.