Not since Palahniuk first hit the shelves has a writer captured hitting bottom without any sort of idealistic glamour. Donald Ray Pollock worked in a paper mill in Ohio for over 30 years before before publishing his first book, Knockemstiff, named so for the holler in Southern Ohio he was born in.
Spanning from the nineteen sixties to the mid-nineties, Knockemstiff tells the stories of the town residents in gruesome detail. The stories intertwine one another, and the characters reappear on the periphery of one another’s lives, often lewdly and violently.
Pollock’s first full length novel follows the same path as Knockemstiff – the characters and their lives are separate stories intertwined, and gritty and obscene. Set earlier in the century, starting with a soldier returning home from battles in the South Pacific during WWII, it follows a cast of religious fanatics, rapists, addicts, and serial killers, with one man caught in the middle.
I wholly recommend reading Donald Ray Pollock’s work. He’s hit the mark that Palahniuk has been missing the last few years.
Now that I’m living in New Orleans, and working in the French Quarter, I wanted to get a bit more educated on its fringe spirituality. I picked up this book in shop around the corner’s local interest section, and I can say that I enjoyed it, even though it wasn’t really what I expected it to be. It was an interesting biographical account of the two Laveau women (mother and daughter, both named Marie), but less of the spooky mojo than I was hoping for. Instead, it was an incredibly interesting account of the racial and caste system of New Orleans in the 1800s, with accounts of events on streets that I now walk every day.
In retrospect, I feel a little silly expecting some sort of historical account of a magical woman.
What did you read this month?
Share on Facebook