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Monday, April 21, 2008

KNOCKEMSTIFF

If you want to have your heart and your guts ripped out
and at the same time read some superb writing, go read
Knockemstiff, a collection of short stories by Donald Ray Pollock.
Mr.Pollock assures us these are fictional. The stories are set in
and around the real town of Knockemstiff, Ohio. Mr. Pollock also assures us that he grew up in Lnockemstiff
and that his parents and neighbors are all good people who would do anything to help someone in need.
I' m sure that's true and I'm relieved to hear it. Comparisons have been made to Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg Ohio.
Forget it. This is brutally original. There is no love, no empathy, no pity and no whining to be found in any of these stories. Pollock writes the way a digital camera operates-with brutal honesty and clarity. His voice rings completely true.
You won't have read stories anything like these before, not from Poe, not from Hemingway, not from Shirley Jackson. You should put the book down and take a break every few pages. I tried to, I needed to come up for air. But I couldn't. I always had to peek ahead to the opening paragraph of the next story, and I was hooked all over again. It's not a long book and it doesn't need to be. There's no padding here.
This supremely gifted writer has a novel ready too. I can't wait. I may need to rest up to read it, but I can't wait. Don't miss Knockemstiff.

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