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Donald Ray Pollock at Powell’s

July 27, 2011

Pollock at Powell’s

Soft-spoken author Donald Ray Pollock celebrated the last stop on his book tour for his much praised, The Devil All the Time, with a reading at Powell’s on Monday.  Dozens of fans showed up including local author Chuck Palahniuk. He asked Pollock if he saw himself writing in the same Southern Gothic literary tradition as William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.  Pollock replied, “As far as my fiction goes, I think I’ve been most influenced by the Southern writers. I definitely have a dark side, you know, as far as what I want to write about. Yeah, I would say so.” He then added that some people probably get bothered by being compared to Southern writers but he said, “That doesn’t bother me at all. If I get compared to somebody who’s pretty well known, I figure that’s a compliment.”
Pollock talked about how the book evolved: “My first idea for the book was to write just about Carl and Sandy (serial killers) and then, after I wrote a lot of pages about them, I figured out that my stuff is dark anyway and a lot of people aren’t gonna read my stuff because of that.  But I knew that Carl and Sandy were so dark and so I was going to have even less readers. So then I decided to stick Arvin in there and then the other ones just kind of came along after that.”
When asked what his literary vision is or what he wants to say to people, the ever-modest Pollock replied, “That’s a hard question to answer. I just want to write a book that hopefully once people start reading they’ll just want to see what happens.  Like a page turner. That was my aim. That was really it.  I didn’t have any grand theme. I’m not a big thinker. I got that book from just typing.  I don’t know what the message would be other than stay out of certain places.”  (And I would add – don’t hitchhike.)
As to whether he will write a story that takes place in contemporary times he said, “Well the book I’m working on now is set in the early 1980s. So maybe. Eventually. If I live long enough, yeah.”
Pollock wrapped it up by saying, “I appreciate everyone coming out tonight.  You’ll just never know how much I appreciate this. Thanks a lot!”


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