Tuesday, May 20, 2008


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.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, Knockemstiff, and reported the following:
My book, Knockemstiff, is a collection of loosely connected short stories set in and around the tiny community of the same name where I grew up in southern Ohio. Most of the characters in my stories live somewhat sad and sordid lives, feeling trapped in situations from which they see no escape (this could be viewed as the main “theme” of the book). Many of them turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, and fantasy, as ways to deal with their frustrations and regrets. As for applying the Page 69 test to my book, I’d say that that particular page is fairly representative of the rest of the book, being the final three paragraphs of the story, “Giganthomachy.” Teddy, a young boy, lives in Knockemstiff with his mother, who is employed in a meatpacking plant. Though a decent woman in many ways, she sometimes likes to imagine that her son is a famous serial killer. After spending the day with William, a neighbor boy with a physically abusive father, destroying an ant hill while pretending that they’re saving the world from monstrous giants about to take over the world, Teddy goes home to deal with another sort of fantasy. Below is the next-to-last paragraph on page 69:

Later that night, my mother told me again that I looked just like my father, and I wondered if that was make-believe too. She was lying on the bed in her silk robe, the scent of her perfume filling the hot room with flowers. Reaching over, she turned down the lamp that sat on the nightstand. Then she tilted her head back, and taking my hand in hers, guided the kitchen knife to her soft throat. “Okay,” she whispered, closing her eyes, “who do you want to be tonight?”
Learn more about Knockemstiff and the author at Donald Ray Pollock's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue