Dès les premières lignes, Donald Ray Pollock nous entraîne dans une odyssée inoubliable, dont on ne sort pas indemne.
De l'Ohio à la Virginie Occidentale, de la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale aux années 60, les destins de plusieurs personnages se mêlent et s'entrechoquent. Williard Russell, rescapé de l'enfer du Pacifique, revient au pays hanté par des visions d'horreur. Lorsque sa femme Charlotte tombe gravement malade, il est prêt à tout pour la sauver, même s'il ne doit rien épargner à son fils Arvin. Carl et Sandy Henderson forment un couple étrange qui écume les routes et enlève de jeunes auto-stoppeurs qui connaîtront un sort funeste. Roy, un prédicateur convaincu qu'il a le pouvoir de réveiller les morts, et son acolyte Théodore, un musicien en fauteuil roulant, vont de ville en ville, fuyant la loi et leur passé.
Toute d'ombre et de lumière, la prose somptueuse de Pollock contraste avec les actes terribles de ses personnages à la fois terrifiants et malgré tout attachants. Le diable tout le temps n'est pas sans rappeler l'univers d'écrivains tels que Flannery O'Connor, Jim Thompson ou Cormac Mc Carthy.
« Voici un livre violent, obsédant, déchirant et vraiment excellent. Une chose est certaine : vous lirez chaque mot, du premier jusqu'au dernier. » The Washington Post
Après Le Diable, tout le temps, couronné par de nombreux prix, Donald Ray Pollock revient avec une fresque grinçante à l'humour très noir.
1917. Quelque part entre la Géorgie et l'Alabama. Le vieux Jewett, veuf et récemment exproprié de sa ferme, mène une existence de misère avec ses fils Cane, Cob et Chimney, à qui il promet le paradis en échange de leur labeur. À sa mort, inspirés par le héros d'un roman à quatre sous, les trois frères enfourchent leurs chevaux, décidés à troquer leur condition d'ouvriers agricoles contre celle de braqueurs de banque. Mais rien ne se passe comme prévu et ils se retrouvent avec toute la région lancée à leurs trousses. Et si la belle vie à laquelle ils aspiraient tant se révélait pire que l'enfer auquel ils viennent d'échapper ?
Fidèle au sens du grotesque sudiste de Flannery O'Connor, avec une bonne dose de violence à la Sam Peckinpah mâtiné de Tarantino, cette odyssée sauvage confirme le talent hors norme de Donald Ray Pollock.
« Pollock : un croisement entre Faulkner et les frères Coen. » Le Figaro Littéraire
Blunt, brutal, but infused with a deep sympathy, Knockemstiff is a pitch-dark and hilarious collection of stories set in a tiny town in Southern Ohio.The youth of Knockemstiff grow up in the malignant shadow of their parents; raised on abuse, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, they are stunted in every possible way: emotionally, mentally, sometimes physically. They talk a lot about escape but they never so much as cross the county line.
In 'Dynamite Hole', Jake has been living wild in the hills of Knockemstiff since he took exception to the drafting process in World War II. When he witnesses an act of sexual transgression by the pond, things start swirling around inside him 'like a storm cloud', and Knockemstiff is soon to have a few more empty beds.In 'Real Life', a trip to the drive-in with his parents winds up in bathroom brawl and a hasty departure for seven year-old Bobby. Looking back on his childhood, Bobby finds in that evening an isolated piece of paternal pride. Part of the Storycuts series, these two stories were previously published in the collection Knockemstiff.
In 'Hair's Fate', when Daniel's father chops off his hair with a kitchen knife for meddling with his younger sister's doll, he decides to leave home. He hitches a ride with a trucker by the name of Cowboy Roy who plies him with liquor and pills, before suggesting a disquieting solution for Daniel's hair problem.In 'Knockemstiff', Hank has been sweet on Tina Elliot for some time. When he hears that she's planning on lighting out for Texas with her boyfriend, he allows himself to get a little pensive-even if it makes a long day's work at the store feel that little bit longer.Part of the Storycuts series, these two stories were previously published in the collection Knockemstiff.
In 'Bactine', a toothless layabout takes a break from nursing his crippled uncle and spends the evening abusing solvents with an acquaintance. The fumes only serve to exacerbate his dismay, though, and a trip to an all-night coffee shop causes some unpleasant recollections to surface.In 'Giganthomachy', Teddy and William are two nine year-old boys who like to argue over whether they'll play nuclear war or Vietnam games in the yard. William's more fantastic suggestions rile Teddy, who suffers enough deranged fantasy when he retreats inside every evening.In 'Pills', Bobby and Frankie take a notion to leave Knockemstiff for California and a new life amongst the film stars. But the four stolen bottles of pharmaceutical grade speed they'd intended to fund the trip with prove mighty alluring, and the road out of the township grows ever more elusive.Part of the Storycuts series, these three short stories were previously published in the collection Knockemstiff.
In 'Lard', Duane's virginity is getting to be a problem. Not so much for Duane as it is for his friends and his father-whose workmates rib him mercilessly about his son's frigidity. Deciding that his friends' regular outlets are not to his taste, Duane sets about fabricating an encounter.In 'Schott's Bridge', Todd has 'too much sugar in him' for Knockemstiff. Even so, he ignores his grandmother's dying wish that he use the two thousand dollars she'd bequeathed him in a coffee jar to get himself out of town. Kicked out of the house by his uncle, he takes to living by the creek with Frankie Johnson and a daunting supply of hallucinogenic drugs.Part of the Storycuts series, these two short stories were previously published in the collection Knockemstiff.
In 'Fish Sticks', Del is washing his one good pair of black jeans on the eve of his cousin's funeral. He imagines he can hear the sea off the Florida coast in the rumblings of the machines, and casts his mind back to a trip the two made to Florida when they were teenagers. In 'Rainy Sunday', Sharon's husband hasn't been quite right since he crashed the car and wound up with a steel plate in his head. Wet weather tends to set him off on one of his spells. Reluctantly, Sharon leaves him alone and takes off on a late-night mission to help her aunt find some company. Part of the Storycuts series, these two short stories were previously published in the collection Knockemstiff.
In 'Assailants', Del's wife hasn't left the house in six months. He likes to escape the tedium of home life with his unhinged wife and baby daughter by courting blackouts with alcohol and drugs. However a trip to the late-night convenience store reveals a latent marital affection.In 'Discipline', Luther Colburn has twenty-one inch arms and a fifty-four inch chest. He struggles to instil the discipline that has aided this extreme hypertrophy into his son and protégé, Sammy. When Sammy's ideas run counter to his father's, Luther gets a late vision of his son's unique merit.In 'Honolulu', Howard Bowman is struggling to remember things. Every morning his wife sets him a challenge or two to try and keep his mind oiled and active. While the names of associates past and present elude him, certain isolated events come back. He gets to thinking about one evening on furlough in Honolulu. Part of the Storycuts series, these three short stories were previously published in the collection Knockemstiff.
In 'Holler', when his wife throws him out, Tom shacks up with the family of a casual girlfriend. They leave it to him to bathe, shave and keep a jug of wine within a straw's reach of their disabled patriarch.In 'I Start Over', retirement has not been living up to Big Bernie's expectations-not the expectations the television advertisements are peddling anyway. He treats himself to a souped-up 1959 Chevrolet, and this indulgence might just be what he needs to start over. Part of the Storycuts series, this short story was previously published in the collection Knockemstiff.
In 'Blessed', a thief's career is cut short when he falls from a rooftop. Since the accident he has been subsisting on a disability cheque, a potent painkiller prescription and having his wife sell her blood.In 'The Fights', Bobby has been off the sauce for five long months. On the advice of his Alcoholics Anonymous mentor, he pays his family a visit in Knockemstiff-where even the wood smoke reminds him of whiskey. While his father and brother amuse themselves by watching pre-recorded boxing and his mother mopes in the kitchen, the inertia infusing his old home threatens to take hold.Part of the Storycuts series, these two short stories were previously published in the collection Knockemstiff.
From Donald Ray Pollock, author of the highly acclaimed The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff, comes a dark, gritty, electrifying (and, disturbingly, weirdly funny) new novel that will solidify his place among the best contemporary American authors.
It is 1917, in that sliver of border land that divides Georgia from Alabama. Dispossessed farmer Pearl Jewett ekes out a hardscrabble existence with his three young sons: Cane (the eldest; handsome; intelligent); Cob (short; heavy set; a bit slow); and Chimney (the youngest; thin; ill-tempered). Several hundred miles away in southern Ohio, a farmer by the name of Ellsworth Fiddler lives with his son, Eddie, and his wife, Eula. After Ellsworth is swindled out of his family's entire fortune, his life is put on a surprising, unforgettable, and violent trajectory that will directly lead him to cross paths with the Jewetts. No good can come of it. Or can it?
In the gothic tradition of Flannery O'Connor and Cormac McCarthy with a healthy dose of cinematic violence reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah, Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, the Jewetts and the Fiddlers will find their lives colliding in increasingly dark and horrific ways, placing Donald Ray Pollock firmly in the company of the genre's literary masters.
Cane, Cob and Chimney Jewett are young Georgia sharecroppers held under the thumb of their God-fearing father, Pearl. When he dies unexpectedly, they set out on horseback for Canada, robbing and looting their way to wealth and infamy. But little goes to plan and soon they're pursued by both the authorities and the stories emanating from their trail of destruction - making the Jewett Gang out to be the most fearsome trio of murdering bank robbers in the Midwest. The truth, though, is far more complex than the legend. And the heaven they've imagined may in fact be worse than the hell they sought to escape.
Willard is a tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific who can't save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from a slow death by cancer no matter how much sacrificial blood he pours on his 'prayer log'. Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, trawl America's highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. The spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick are running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin, Willard and Charlotte's orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right.