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Knockemstiff Hardcover – 3 Jul 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker; First UK Edition edition (3 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846551560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846551567
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 524,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

In Knockemstiff, Donald Ray Pollock give us the impossible - fast, funny stories about the saddest people you'll ever see in fiction ... More engaging than any new fiction in years (Chuck Palahniuk)

KNOCKEMSTIFF by Donald Ray Pollock is the best book I have ever read. This is the America they don't let you see on television. This is real literature. It will be read for centuries. (Michael Guinzburg)

It's as if you put David Lynch, Denis Johnson, and a drunk speed freak body builder into a blender. The result are some of the darkest, wildest, most messed up, hilarious stories I've ever read. Knockemstiff is really something (Willy Vlautin)

This electrifying collection of linked stories ... has the drive and impact of a fine novel. After every story in Knockemstiff I had to take a walk and let my head cool down. I keep reaching for some other writer to compare him with ... but Pollock is no shadow of anybody else. This is a powerful talent at work (Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love)

I picked this up Sunday, intending to read a story or two before I went to the movies. Three hours later, I was reluctantly finishing the last story. I just couldn't put it down, because as sad, seedy and sordid as the lives and stories are, there was an honesty, commitment and balls-to-the-walls verve to the writing that was ultimately exhilarating ... This is the kind of short story collection that reminds people that love them why (Terry Goodman, Senior Book Buyer Amazon.com)

Book Description

Knockemstiff is the world of Vernon God Little by a writer who depicts poor America like no other. Donald Ray Pollock is an astonishing new voice in American fiction.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Aug 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Donald Ray Pollock you are the man.
I just finished The Devil All The Time and had to read more by Mr. Pollock. Regrettably there are few to choose from so I went for this selection of short stories. Now I do not like short stories because as soon as you are into one it ends often inconclusively. I have made exceptions for masters of the genre like Annie Proulx and Tim Gautereaux and I am happy to say that Donald Ray Pollock is up there with the best.
As with The Devil AllThe Time this collection is set in the dirt poor Appalachian township of Knockemstiff Ohio and the 18 tales mostly involve the young dead end kids seeking entertainment and sex anywhere they can find it. It is dark, it is graphic, it is at times laugh out loud funny and it is a work if genius. Most of the characters would like to move on to better things , but never do . There is no escaping the ignorance and poverty that enfolds them like a security blanket.
Mr. Pollock grew up in Knockemstiff, worked the meat packing plant and the paper mill both of which feature here and therefor he knows first hand what he writes about and it shows on every page of clean , cutting prose.
Each story is a not to be forgotten mini masterpiece.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Obelix on 28 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best collection of short fiction I've read in 2011 so far. The book's spell is hard to account for. The terrain is Knockemstiff, Ohio, and a million miles away from anything Sherwood Anderson ever imagined. The characters are largely druggies and losers. Haven't we read this before, in Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Denis Johnson?

But here's the thing. Like all the above, Donald Ray Pollock can write. Some of his sentences are so sharp they could almost leave you with shallow cuts. (See the story 'Bactine', which rapidly became my favourite in the collection.) The dialogue is crisp, to the point, authentic; no story idles, and the characters compel further reading. The guy knows his terrain, has seen it, lived with it, and compressed it artfully.

You just can't fake this kind of thing. It's surprising Pollock hasn't been writing longer. In fact, he's a former paper mill worker in his fifties: this is his first book. You'd better believe I'll be checking out his first novel The Devil All the Time without delay.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Luikart on 29 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
When people talk about Knockemstiff, they often use the word, "gritty." The word kind of starts to lose its meaning. The stories in Knockemstiff are intense, that's for sure. There were a couple of spots in some of the stories where I had to put the book down for a minute and look away from the page. Rough things happen to the characters and the characters sometimes do horrible things. But, here's what's best about the collection: The compassion for these characters with which Pollock writes. He's able to take the "gritty" things that happen, the abandonments, the empty highs, the violence, etc. and use them to leave the reader with a sense of heartbreak and a sense of connection. That might sound funny. "Why would I want to feel connected to violence?" That's the risk of this read. To pick it up means you have to be willing to acknowledge that a couple of Bactine addicts, for example, might trigger your sense of empathy. Pollock writes in a stark, unapologetic, conversational style, which helps pique that sense of compassion and bring about the sense of connection in the reader. He's not looking down on Knockemstiff from a helicopter. Instead, he's looking at it from the seat of a beat up Chevy parked at the drive-in. I'd call it "immersion fiction," if I can make up a term.

Anyway, Knockemstiff is profound collection that is definitely worth picking up and reading. That's another thing, by the way. You won't have to pick it up too many times. The stories are quite gripping. You'll be through with it pretty quick.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
No laughs here, in Donald Ray Pollock's collection of short stories set in one-horse town Knockemstiff. But they're well-told tales, properly structured, that bring to vivid life the rabble of lowlifes that seem to comprise the majority of the town's population. If you like perky tales about high-achieving people this is not for you, but I liked it a lot.
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By KevinF on 7 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wonderful stuff. This very entertaining book is a must for readers of William Gay or Tom Franklin. It’s set in and around Knockemstiff; a small Ohio town filled with poorly educated, poverty stricken denizens living out their not so quiet, desperate lives.

Don’t expect much sunshine in this meaty, grim, intertwining collection but it effortlessly holds your attention. At the end of each story I found myself wondering just how appalling the people - and the lives of the people - in the next story could possibly get and the author never disappoints. Highly recommended.
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By Blue eyed enn on 22 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's worth having a read just for the moments of 'WTF?!' that are thrown at you. Wait until you meet the brother and the sister - then you'll get where I'm coming from!!!
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Some of the stories made me look away from the page as the stories are so well written, you start empathising with characters who can be so violent in nature that you were hoping for a better outcome. A very well written book that makes it hard to put down even when some of the story can make you wish such a world doesn't exist, but it does and you are along for the ride. Great writing, can't believe it's his first book.
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