Thursday, March 10, 2011


This was a weird, crazy, depressing book. I'm going to steal a review from the Donald Ray Pollock's, the author's, website:

"Spanning a period from the midsixties to the late nineties, the stories in 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. . . . Donald Ray Pollock presents his characters and the sordid goings-on with a stern intelligence and a bracing absence of value judgments. . . . Knockemstiff is a genuine entry into the literature of place."

Knockemstiff, Ohio is a real place and the town from where Pollock hails. To me, the key words in the above review are "depraved", "sometimes violent" and "bracing absence of value judgments". Oh, and "sordid goings-on". Humor? Intelligence? If they were there, they were trampled by the depravity. I found this to be a rather disturbing book and although I read something somewhere where Pollock says that the stories are not based on real people, I'm not sure what is more disturbing - that the book might be based on real people or that Pollock thought them up.

And while I did find the book to be weird, crazy and depressing (and sordid and disturbing), I thought the writing was pretty good. I just don't know that I thought it was good enough to say, hey, check it out but be aware of the content. You know what, I don't think the writing was that good. I'm sticking this with Blockade Billy and the don't read category.


FanOfReds said...

I'm a big fan of your book reviews. As someone who likes to read, but doesn't follow many book releases, your reviews consistently give me books to take a look at (or to avoid in this case)!

Mad Guru said...

Thanks for the kind words. Glad I can be of service.