The Devil All The Time

The Devil All The Time is one of those books where everyone I know who has read it has had nothing but exceptional things to say about it. So, why the hell did it take me so long to read it?

If you’re looking for fiction that is as gritty as sandpaper covered in broken glass, then look no further than The Devil All The Time

Donald Ray Pollock’s novel follows the lives of a handful of people with the eventual goal of connecting them all in let’s say, some not so great ways. The story follows Willard and his son Arvin as their prayers for the health of Arvin’s mother have seemingly been falling on deaf ears. There’s Sandy and Carl, two ne’er do wells that run the highways looking for hitchhikers to bait and murder. The story also follows a delusional preacher and his wheelchair-bound friend after a misjudged act forces them to run. And who is this new preacher in town with a taste for young girls? There are other threads as well and Pollock eventually finds a way to weave them all together.

This is an absolutely riveting story that gripped me from start to finish. Trying to figure out just how each plot line would intersect had me turning the pages (or click the page button on my Kindle) late into the night. These stories are uncompromising in their look at life in poorer communities and the effect hopelessness has on decisions that are made out of desperation. The fact of the matter is, you can’t run from your past, no matter how much you try. The consequences of your actions will always catch up with you in the end.

I expect that this one will stick with me long after I’ve finished. Many of these characters felt so real that you wonder if Pollock took inspiration from his years growing up in the American Rust Belt.

Luckily for me, Netflix recently adapted the book into a film, so I can check that out and relive my time in Meade, Ohio – if that’s something one would ever want to do.

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