Monday, February 16, 2009

Read: "Knockemstiff" by Donald Ray Pollock

Read: Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock, 2008, 9780385523820.

Short stories recommended by someone online. Either that guy from Vancouver or the guy from Two Rivers. The stories are all set in or around the unincorporated town of Knockemstiff, OH with interconnected characters and spanning about 40 years time. The time setting is not always clear but Pollock would give hints.

Pretty decent. Good writing but the stories dealt with alcoholics, infidelity, sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, meth freaks, poverty, broken dreams, and other uplifting topics. Only a few of the characters had much to redeem them. Several were just junkies screwing over family and friends. Some were just lonely and had nowhere else to go. The Knockemstiff of these stories is not a good place to visit.

I wasn't going to finish this after the first story started out with a scary, drunk dad humiliating his kid. That was creepy. I had trouble remembering characters' names so I am not sure if the boy in the first story, set in about 1960 or so, features in a later story.

Pollock is from the real Knockemstiff and his afterword says the real place is full of kind people and helpful neighbors.

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