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Extended Audio Sample The Devil All the Time, by Donald Ray Pollock Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (4,517 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Donald Ray Pollock Narrator: Mark Bramhall Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In The Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock has written a novel that marries the twisted intensity of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers with the religious and Gothic over­tones of Flannery O’Connor at her most haunting. 

Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrifi­cial blood he pours on his “prayer log.” There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial kill­ers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right. 

Donald Ray Pollock braids his plotlines into a taut narrative that will leave readers astonished and deeply moved. With his first novel, he proves himself a master storyteller in the grittiest and most uncompromising American grain.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brutally creative…Pollock knows how to dunk readers into a scene and when to pull them out gasping.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Fulfills the promise in [Knockemstiff]…Invites comparisons to Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Carver.”

    USA Today

  • “Finely woven…[A] throat-stomping Appalachian crime story.”


  • “For fans of No Country for Old Men…sure to give you goose bumps.”


  • “Should cement Pollock’s reputation as a significant voice in American fiction.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Will have you on the edge of your seat.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “A systematic cataloguing of the horror and hypocrisy that festers in the dark shadow of the American dream.”

    Portland Mercury

  • “You may be repelled, you may be shocked, you will almost certainly be horrified, but you will read every last word.”

    Washington Post

  • “Disarmingly smooth prose startled by knife-twists of black humor…Expertly employs the conventions of Southern Gothic horror.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Stunning…One wild story…gives us sex, murder, mayhem and some of the most bizarre characters in fiction today.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “[The Devil All the Time is] a world unto its own, a world vividly and powerfully brought to life by a literary stylist who packs a punch as deadly as pulp-fiction master Jim Thompson and as evocative and morally rigorous as Russell Banks.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “A smorgasbord of grotesque characters trapped in a pressure-cooker plot…Brutal fun.”


  • “[Pollock] doesn’t get a word wrong in this super-edgy American Gothic stunner.”


  • “Reads as if the love child of O’Connor and Faulkner was captured by Cormac McCarthy, kept in a cage out back and forced to consume nothing but onion rings, Oxycontin, and Terrence Malick’s Badlands.”


  • Selected for the July 2011 Indie Next List
  • A 2011 Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Ted | 2/15/2014

    " What an ugly book. "From what Hank had seen of the man, he probably deserved killing..." In this line lies the problem of the whole novel. This is a character ruminating about a man he barely knows. This novel has nothing to do with realism, but somehow, it seems to want to be realistic. I don't believe that real people have thoughts like this. If there are people like this, I'm not interested in reading about their lives. There's nothing to explore here. All the characters are hateful and violent and it's all right there on the surface. There are an astonishing number of people murdered and no one seems to remark on it. I know other readers will cry "southern gothic" and "noir," but I'd like to know what larger idea is being explored here. What truth about life is being revealed with all this grotesquerie? I couldn't find it and somehow I can in O'Connor and Chandler. The violence is copious, yes, but gratuitous in that it makes little sense. Why on earth does Willard decide offering blood sacrifices to the prayer log is a good idea? Why does he keep on? It did not once prove efficacious. Then I realized that's what a southern gothic novel required. And all the sex recalls pornography in its bizarre and silly distortion of reality—all the men are donkey-dicked and the women are constantly getting bent over and/or sodomized (getting bent over is very big in this novel). I don't know if Pollock hates his characters but he certainly doesn't believe any good of them, which amounts to the same thing. I guess Arvin is the exception, but he's so ridiculously altruistic and inexplicably sentimental about his childhood home that he seemed like a cardboard cutout. Oh, and he murders a bunch of people, too. I read "Knockemstiff" and had the same feeling—a collection of stories about a bunch of depraved lowlifes with primal urges making disastrous decisions. I want to like this guy's stuff. I like dark fiction and stories about desperate people. I've heard him interviewed and seen him read and he seems like a kind and intelligent person. I just can't figure out why he can't manage to enlist my sympathy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Stephanie Knapp | 2/8/2014

    " some really beautiful writing sprinkled throughout, but this one beats you over the head with seemingly senseless violence (including lots and lots of rape), without much of an exploration into the motivations and repercussions of that violence. worth a read if you like cormac mccarthy, and have a tough stomach for bleak fiction. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Aaron Blair | 2/7/2014

    " I really liked how, even though this story appeared to be, at first, a series of loosely related vignettes, it eventually morphed into an examination of the ways that people's lives can brutally, miserably intersect. Nothing good happens to anyone in this book, so it's definitely not for the faint of heart, or for people who expect a happy ending. But there's no guarantee that life will ever be pretty, especially not for the kind of poor, working class people who populate this novel, and these people are rarely ever addressed in fiction the way that they are here. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Bibliophile | 2/4/2014

    " This is undoubtedly a good piece of fiction, but it was simply too violent and depraved for my taste. It makes me want to read something light and fluffy with a happy ending. "

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