Knockemstiff – Book Review

knockemstiff book cover

Knockemstiff (2008)
by Donald Ray Pollock

What is Knockemstiff, you may ask? It’s a collection of stories concerning the citizens of a small insignificant town called Knockemstiff, OH, a spec on the map with a world full of pain and misery. It’s provocative, it’s real life scary, it’s dismal, it’s one of the best fiction story collections I’ve ever read. I was hoping one of the characters would make it out of that hell hole of a failing town, but most of the stories ended grimly. It’s real hardcore stuff, drug addiction, alcoholism, bullies and big mouths, dreamers and thieves, mentally disturbed and smart people, all succumb to the pit that is Knockemstiff. It’s a miserable place where born losers die hard and all who try and escape are entangled in the spider’s web. It’s an excellent read for those strong enough to experience the gritty under belly of America. Highly Recommended.

knockemstiff OH

I’d like to leave you with two lines from the book to give you a feel for the writing.

“A damp, gray sky covered southern Ohio like the skin of a corpse.”

“…anything I do to extend my life is just going to be outweighed by the agony of living it.”

Donald Ray Pollock, Knockemstiff

Donald Ray Pollock knock moonville tunnel OH

Donald Ray says of his hometown, (paraphrased) this is a work of fiction and there are good people in the real town of Knockemstiff.


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9 thoughts on “Knockemstiff – Book Review

  1. If this is anything like Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio,”, I want to be there. Just read that thing a while ago, and it’s brilliant. Especially for something nearly a hundred years old.

      • So I guess it’s more like Stephen King or Gary Braunbeck’s stuff, then.

        I only mentioned Winesburg because it’s also a fictional town in Ohio, at a much earlier time period. And it’s not horror, but some of the stuff in it is pretty horrifying if you’re not prepared for it. Anderson is totally like that.

        Also, unlike a few Canadians, I’ve visited that country myself. My parents and I went to Cleveland a couple of years ago, mainly to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But we also drove through the corridor between Cleveland and Toledo, so I got to see what Lorrain, Vermillion and Sandusky look like besides Cleveland itself. Pretty nice, all told.

      • That’s Pig, from the Nickelodeon animated TV show “Pig Goat Banana Cricket”. He says that about every other thing he sees, cause he’s a little bit slow mentally. But his real favorite thing, for some reason known only to his creators, is pickles.

        I heartily recommend seeing it if you’ve never heard of it before. It’s hilarious!

      • Oh, that’s funny. My daughter says that a lot because she works with children and they say it all the time, lol. So everyone in my house has been using that line for years.

  2. Pingback: Parlor of Horror – 2016 – Year in review | parlor of horror

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