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September 16, 2020 at 8:32 am

Tribune Review | Pollock’s Appalachian Noir Narrative Voice Flows Through ‘Devil All the Time’

Katie Walsh of Tribune News Service reviews the movie The Devil All the Time, based on the novel by Ohio University alum Donald Ray Pollock, author of the book by the same name and the narrative voice of the new movie. Her review is headlined “Movies | ‘Devil All the Time’: Ross County resident’s book was basis for messy journey into heart of humanity’s darkness.”

book cover for Donald Ray Pollock by Donald Ray PollockIt’s the sonorous narration that grabs you at first, a voice lush and resonant with time and place, warm, yet almost ominous, recounting a tale set in Knockemstiff, Ohio — located in Ross County — and Coal Creek, West Virginia, back in 1957.

This is the voice of author Donald Ray Pollock, of Knockemstiff, who worked at the local paper mill until age 50, when he decided to enroll at Ohio University to earn a degree in English. He sold his first short story collection, “Knockemstiff,” in 2008, before his debut novel, “The Devil All the Time,” came along in 2011. This is his yarn, and he recounts the bone-chilling events within it beautifully.

Pollock’s voice is the guiding light through the film adaptation, directed and co-written by Antonio Campos, and his authorial voice is the discovery that will knock ya stiff. “The Devil All the Time” is a gooey slice of Appalachian noir, and Pollock tears the lid right off the pie that is 1950s small-town Americana: cute waitresses, church picnics and crooner tunes (and white, heteronormative, patriotic, pious). Underneath the golden exterior, he exposes a lurid world of murder and mayhem. Sticky red pie filling sure does look a lot like blood, after all.

Read Walsh’s review in the Columbus Dispatch.

Pollack earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University in 1994.

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