What a gritty, vicious, absolutely stunning first novel from Pollock. Pollock’s work definitely is not for the lighthearted and has a lot of McCarthy vibes. I began reading Pollock with his first book, a short story collection titled Knockemstiff. The Devil All the Time is his first novel and only one of three published manuscripts. He has quickly become an author worthy of my top five favorite authors of all-time list.

The Devil All the Time revolves around a creepy cast of characters: a serial killer husband and wife, a preacher and his guitar playing companion who may or may not be seriously in love with the preacher, a corrupt sheriff, and a kid with a really messed up religious family background. This gritty Ohio narrative weaves this cast of characters slowly together, never feeling forced or breaking my interest. This narrative lives in the family of McCarthy, Carver, O’Connor, and Gay. It disgusts you, intrigues you, and blind sights you all in one line. Pollock is the master of making me love reading gory, fucked up details.

Pollock gives his readers the horror, while also being extremely beautiful in language. For example, Pollock writes “The whites of his eyes were laced with red veins, and his fat, pale, unshaven face looked like some cold and distant star in the reflection from the bare lightbulb hanging over the table” (161). This character described is a murderer. However, upon first read, Pollock describes the man in such a vivid way with his language. It makes the reader question how language so beautiful can describe a man so evil. I love this about Pollock – the way that he forces the language to be at odds with the actions in the prose. Pollock could make me read about anything, no matter how disgusting, with the way that he manipulates language.

Another thing that I love about Pollock’s writing is the way that he creates a cast of characters that are seemingly so different, running in their own stories and spheres, and then brings them together. The reader knows that the meeting of characters towards the end of the novel is inevitable, since we are reading a novel and know how plot works, but Pollock does it in a way that isn’t scripted and still allows the characters to live in their own way, just in proximity to one another.

Pollock’s stories and novels always feel like a journey that I never want to end. I want to live with the fucked up, terrible, unlikeable characters he’s created forever. It is rare when an author creates a narrative where I’m not racing through, but rather prolonging the reading experience because I never want it to be over. It is hard for me to find someone who does this for me, and Pollock is one of the few, quickly gaining him a spot in top favorite writers.

It is very exciting to know that a movie based on this novel will be releasing in May this year, starring many big name actors. A novel and a film to certainly check out!

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)