Grim but compelling.,
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This review is from: Knockemstiff (Paperback)
I came to this set of semi-rural underclass Ohio stories by way of two more recent collections Ron Rush' "Burning Bright" and Frank Bill's "Crime in Southern Indiana". Both of the later collections seem to me to owe a good deal to Donald Ray Pollock and particularly to "Knock-Em-Stiff", which I had no notion was a real Ohio small town.
I think I had expected these stories to be more muted, but as it turned out I found them by some way the most harrowing of the three. The lives of the characters are as constricted and undernourished as Frank Bill's and the violence more understated, but here I found the accumulation of concrete details and the truncated, spare and telling dialogue even more powerful. The matter of fact style of utterance : " you put my eyes out, my granny gonna be mad" together with flashes of humour and human warmth only serve to underscore these sadly impoverished lives.
It seems to me an impressive collection that not once strikes a false note.