Like Reading a Train Wreck: The Devil All the Time, By Donald Ray Pollock
Astoundingly good writing. Amazing writing. Stylistically Donald Ray Pollock has a lot going on. He makes better use of exposition than any author I’ve ever read, mostly because he’s willing to show the reader things that are… unusual and interesting. It’s like reading a train wreck.
I’d prefer that if an author is going to put two Christian symbols on every page, that at some point he address something about Christianity. I din’t get much depth there. Felt like watching a porn star with a crucifix around her neck–makes you wonder if she believes Christ is her savior, or if she wears the cross for some other reason.
I’ve read other reviewers of this book who note that Pollock puts ugliness on display without a hint of moral judgment, and if I would have quit in the middle of the novel (and I could have, because I didn’t give a damn about any of the characters) I would have believed that to be true. However, the end leaves me feeling that Pollock does have a moral view of the situations he presents.
Long story short, the writing is stylistically brilliant and the story will stick with you long enough that if there is any higher message to come from it, you’ll remember the story long enough to get it. Driving home from work the other day I saw a deer that someone had hit on the on ramp to the hi-way. It sat upright on folded legs, pan eyed and terrified, blood all over its mouth. I’ve thought of it many times, not because the guy who hit it was trying to say something, but because the image is brutal and hard to forget. I just don’t know yet whether Pollock’s writing is brutal with a message, or just brutal.