The Devil All the Time

  • by Donald Ray Pollock
  • Narrated by Mark Bramhall
  • 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed author of Knockemstiff—called “powerful, remarkable, exceptional” by the Los Angeles Times—comes a dark and riveting vision of America that delivers literary excitement in the highest degree.
In The Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock has written a novel that marries the twisted intensity of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers with the religious and Gothic over­tones of Flannery O’Connor at her most haunting.
Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrifi­cial blood he pours on his “prayer log.” There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial kill­ers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right.
Donald Ray Pollock braids his plotlines into a taut narrative that will leave readers astonished and deeply moved. With his first novel, he proves himself a master storyteller in the grittiest and most uncompromising American grain.


What the Critics Say

"If Pollock’s powerful collection Knockemstiff was a punch to the jaw, his follow-up, a novel set in the violent soul-numbing towns of southern Ohio and West Virginia, feels closer to a mule’s kick, and how he draws these folks and their inevitably hopeless lives without pity is what the kick’s all about." (Publishers Weekly)
"The God-fearing hard-luck characters who populate Donald Ray Pollock’s debut novel, The Devil All the Time, move through the southern outlands of Ohio and the isolated hollows of West Virginia like figures in a collective nightmare of poverty, addiction, superstition, and crime" (Lisa Shea, ELLE magazine)
“This novel fulfills the promise made by Pollock’s debut collection, Knockemstiff. He is a real writer, and The Devil All The Time hits you like a telegram from Hell slid under your door at three o’clock in the morning.” (William Gay, author of Provinces of Night and The Long Home)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Comedy Blockbuster in Hades

Good Hell! If the devil himself crawled up from his fiery abyss and penned his own brand of comedy book, it would probably fall short of the grotesque violence and hopeless despair that chokes the pages of Pollock's very unfunny novel. If you have no taste for Natural Born Killers, No Country For Old Men, American Psycho, or the works of Jim Thompson or Quentin Tarantino, you are in the wrong section of the library. The Devil All the Time is gritty, hard-core, hard-boiled pulp fiction that pummels the reader relentlessly with perverse atrocities delivered by a most bizarre and pitiful casting that only a nightmare could imagine.

If there is any humanity that escapes the borders of Knockemstiff, USA, it is the central character, Arvin Russell -- and he grew up offering blood sacrifices at a*prayer log* (surround by crucifixes adorned with unfortunate critters) with his traumatized WWII vet father, praying that God would deliver his mother from the cancer eating her tormented body. Pollock's RFD route in Knockemstiff includes the team of a spider eating preacher and his crippled pedophile side kick, hiding out at a carnival after the preacher kills his wife so he can raise her from the dead at his next sermon; a sadistic sheriff that earns a little money on the side as a hired hit man; another preacher whose specialty is de-flowering young members of his flock; Carl and Sandy Henderson--she a waitress/prostitute, he a fat hygiene-deficient *splatter* photographer--a tag team serial killer duo that cruises the highways looking for *models* (men) to rape, torture, and photograph.

The saving grace with this kind of material is Pollock's obvious talent and smart, sharp, sparse style that is unapologetically raw. He entwines his novel with God, guilt, poverty, and violence, into a tight plot that ramps up the intensity as it propels this motley crew toward a climactic showdown. What is it that compels us to strain our necks to gawk at a pile-up? I couldn't look away, and couldn't put this down. In small doses, (maybe with some Disney in-between) I intend on devouring everything Pollock writes. I highly recommend BUT only to the truly iron-gutted veterans of dark fiction--you have to have the stomach for this kind of book. Between you and me, I'm a little disgusted with myself for liking it so much. [Disgust Level Comparisons: American Psycho, Dark Places, The Wasp Factory, Haunted.]

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- Mel "Say something about yourself!"

WOW What a FIND!

WOW! What a ride! Wonderful (if bizarre) characters, taut narrative, plot full of unexpected turns and extraordinary narration by Mark Bramhall (but then that is the only way he ever narrates -- extraordinary talent and skill)
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- Kathy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-12-2011
  • Publisher: Random House Audio