Book Nook: The Devil All The Time

I often say “If I don’t know a guy, I know a guy who knows a guy.” Well, when it comes to gothic rural noir and most things disparate and desperate, my guy is Jeff Reno. Reno use to send me books to read, knowing my own deranged taste waded in similar waters to him.

So, when he mentioned The Devil All The Time recently, I was surprised it was not already in a stack on my shelf. With a Netflix film set to come out in a few weeks, I decided it was time to crank through this one, in audiobook form.

The Devil All The Time was written by Donald Ray Pollock and published in 2011, but it is set in rural Ohio and West Virginia post World War II. It reads like something written 40-50 years ago if not for the jarring nature of the “moments”.

The book spans a good chunk of the life of Arvin, and it is pretty much the shittiest life imaginable. Arvin is not the protagonist, nor the antagonist. This is neither hero nor anti-hero in nature. It is just, well, a story about life sucking balls for a few rural families.

It covers the illiterate, podunk perversion of religion, with the tinge of honor that comes within that, a notion that also creates a ton of misery, even if noble and righteous misery.

You can read the full plot elsewhere, that is not what these little blurbs are for. But, if you can handle the darkness within, this is an intriguing ride that will lead you to multiple “son of a bitch”es, and “damn, saw it coming and still hated to see it” moments. In the enjoyable way; at least, for someone with my views on life, and death, and my ilk.

The book is just 272 pages, the audio is just under 10 hours. This one comes recommended and yeah, I’m looking forward to the movie, starring Spider-Man.


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