Title: The Devil All the Time
Author: Donald Ray Pollock
From the back: In Knockemstiff, Ohio, war veteran Willard can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from a slow death by cancer no matter how much sacrificial blood he pours on his ‘prayer log’.
Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, trawl America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate.
Preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick are running from the law.
And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, looking for answers….
The gist: I saw the film crop up on Netflix, decided it looked kinda like it would be up my street, then decided I’d better go ahead and read the book first.
I’ve read the book.
I’ve not watched the film, yet.
Because this book was so good, I want to let it settle, to let it carve out it’s place in my mind before checking out the televisual version.
The Devil all the Time is a masterfully woven, bleak tale, serving grit upon grit as Pollock’s many characters’ lives knot together over the years. Pollock writes with no words to spare, direct and blunt and unwavering. The pictures he paints are brutal, the characters broken or breaking, some trying to mend, others revelling in their own shards. Each step made by one character feels like it feeds directly into a fall by another. Everything feels irrevocably connected.
And despite the grit, the dark, the on-occasion horrific acts and situations, there is still a sense of spirit. They may be small, but there are sparks.
This book is undoubtedly a gut punch, an emotionally gruelling journey into desperation.
And it’s brilliant.
Favourite line: Some people were born just so they could be buried.
Read if: You want sparse, bare writing that punches you in the head in the most masterful of ways.
Read with: Whiskey and a list of all the nice things in life.