In 2008 Donald Ray Pollock, a former plant worker from Chillicothe, Ohio, released a book of short stories titled Knockemstiff. A book that was grim, heartless, cruel, but painfully true to its characters of small town Ohio.
This month Pollock has followed it up with The Devil All the Time a novel set in the same area of southern Ohio and West Virginia with characters who are drawn up with unflinching brutality and honesty. It's a book of killin', stealin' and whorin' and Pollock masterfully stays on the side of telling us about the gore without graphically showing it. The book is not without many moments of shocking and gruesome behaviors though.
These stories have been told before by lesser writers - orphaned children, drifters, shady preachers but Pollock knows these characters and reveals them to us with uncliched prose. He spins a tale that is fantastic in not what he tells, but in how he captures and concludes the story. In other, less hectic times I would have read this book on one sitting. It took two. Best book of fiction I've read this year.