Monday, July 4, 2011

Donald Ray Pollock

Donald Ray Pollock's writing has appeared in, or is forthcoming in, the New York Times, Third Coast, The Journal, Sou’wester, Chiron Review, River Styx, Boulevard, Folio, and The Berkeley Fiction Review. His 2008 book is Knockemstiff.

His new novel is The Devil All the Time.

From Pollack's Q & A with Lydia Fitzpatrick and Kate Levin at Fiction Writers Review:

Writers are always reading about worlds and people that are foreign to them, and some of us even try to write about worlds to which we’re not personally connected. How do you balance the “write what you know” adage with what you actually want to write about?

When I was starting out, I tried writing about everything except what I knew. I’d read Andre Dubus and try to write a story about a lapsed Catholic; or John Cheever and try to write about a suburbanite having an affair with another suburbanite. On and on, doctors, nurses, lawyers. Unfortunately, none of that stuff turned out any good. Then I wrote a story called “Bactine” and it was as if someone turned the lights on. I hate to admit it, but I know those kinds of people, the ones in my book, better than anyone else. Now, I don’t prescribe that for anyone. I mean, if that was the case, that everyone just wrote about what they knew, then fiction would be pretty boring. Maybe I just don’t have the ability to make that imaginative leap into another world, at least not yet. I guess I’d rather suggest that you write about what you’re interested in.

In your Acknowledgements [to Knockemstiff], you take care to reiterate that “all of the characters are fictional,” despite the boilerplate language on the copyright page about how all resemblances to “persons, living or dead” are coincidental. You add, “My family and our neighbors were good people who never hesitated to help someone in a time of need.” For whom did you write those lines?

I wrote those lines mainly for my publisher, who seemed a bit more concerned than I did about a mob of locals hanging me from a tree. I knew...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Donald Ray Pollock's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Knockemstiff.

--Marshal Zeringue