Knockemstiff - Donald Ray Pollock According to author Donald Ray Pollock, Knockemstiff is an actual place, although I find it hard to believe that any place can be as depressing as the Knockemstiff Pollock portrays in his book of the same name. It is a collection of short stories centering around the residents of that town and they are loosely connected to each other. Characters tend to weave in and out of the stories like pesky moths. These tales are hard-hitting, repulsive and full of the kind of folks you do not want to be around. Yet Pollock's portrayals are non-judgmental and strangely appealing. Good literature has the ability to take you places you have never been and in Pollock's world, places you don't want to be. In some ways it is reminiscent of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County in the way he makes a believable environment with its own history and personality but also like Joe R. Lansdale's East Texas in its depiction of it brutality and its outcasts. The stories are tense and riveting yet the result are a bit weakened by the quantity of tales; 19 I believe. I felt exhausted and a bit immune to the tales' surprises by the end. But I still loved the originality of these brutal stories.

Pollock continued his look at Knockemstiff in his following novel The Devil All The Time. While I enjoyed the novel even more, this fiction collection is still excellent.