The Heavenly Table By Donald Ray Pollock

When I sat down with The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock, I was all set to have my love for Southern Gothicism stoked here—forget that, even just my love for a great read in the Southern tradition. Anyone who follows my reviews knows that I’m a sucker for it. Yet, The Heavenly Table fell unexpectedly flat for me, I’m sorry to say.

Here you’ll find the story of the Jewett boys, regular hillbillies turned cowboys in 1917 Georgia, chasing a Buffalo Bill-type dream and their own versions of “the heavenly table,” a metaphor used throughout this novel. Here, you’ll also find an entire cast of colorful characters whose big personalities jostled for space within these pages.

For me, the problem with this read came down to two very important counterparts that didn’t marry well here: plot and soul. You can have a wonderful premise—a killer idea and plot all sketched out—but that doesn’t mean that it will be executed with a real feeling of ambiance and depth. And for a novel whose blurb wants it to live up to the Southern Gothic tradition (with references to Quentin Tarantino, no less!) it has to have soul. Period. Otherwise, peel that label off and call it something else. Call it “Django with a 3 Stooges cowboy twist.”

The premise of Pollock’s The Heavenly Table was great—the characters filled the pages; the vernacular added some awesome local color; the setting was rich and there were a couple of Gothic elements that tipped their hat toward the tradition of O’Connor and Faulkner. I even saw Tarantino here, featuring cartoon-like descriptions of gore and debauchery that were cinematic and would translate well on the big screen. (In fact, this one would probably make a better movie than it did a read.) In short, the fundamentals of the story itself were fine, maybe even good, but I never felt any depth. I'm not even talking feels, just enough depth to make it funny, to make it feel real even in its raucousness.

The Heavenly Table was beautiful as a metaphor but fell short in that it never gripped me and pulled me in. True enough, each character had some spit and dirt to them—in that way, it was gritty—but the rest of the grit came off as superficial and referential to other great works, to others’ great styles, and not fully of its own character. It didn’t make me yearn for the next flip of a page to see what lay in wait on the other side. To me, it read as classroom-learned writing with no natural swag. This was my first foray into Pollock’s works. It read like a 1st novel, which is surprising coming from an author with the renown that Pollock has amassed thus far. What I will say about this 3rd major work of Pollock’s is that he did let his own Southern Ohio, blue-collar roots hang out with a confident flamboyance and devil-may-care flair that I appreciated, making the read feel authentically Southern.

But Rule #1 is always: Don’t tell me; show me. And I think that one was tossed to the wind here in favor of superfluous character plot lines and backstories—I still can’t figure out what some of those characters were even doing in there, let alone why they had entire backstories of their own—and debaucherous accounts of adventure that I could see but not feel, not taste, not touch myself. It fell short of being fully 3-D for me, cinematic though the plot aimed to be. Without that added depth of flavor, without that thickened roux at its base, the cinematic appeal lost a little of its verve and sparkle—it lost some of its Rabelaisian humor appeal.>

That extra word count from all of those storylines would’ve been better served filling out the story of the main characters. This one had too many ideas that could have been narrowed down to a much better read. Yes, yes, I get the attempt at weaving several intricately woven stories together so that they come together surprisingly in the end—it’s awe-inspiring when done right—but this wasn’t that. This was too many ideas with the end result being me confused about who was who and whether or not they would show up again often enough in the novel for me to even care about them (sometimes the answer was no). Really, this read took the long way to its finale and dragged in too many characters to do it, with the end result not having the kick that it could have. There were serial killers tossed in for the hell of it, like “oh by the ways” tossed in just for good measure, just to make sure the read was good and raunchy. I didn’t respond well to that kind of fabricated grit. Was Heavenly Table gritty (as the blurb stated) because it had heart or because debauchery was heaped on debauchery? I’d say the latter, like a bawdy and mildly depraved version of the Slapstick genre: events were just happening just to be happening at some times, and that really turned me off.

Yet, to others, this might be a real selling point, as it was indeed Rabelaisian. For those who want to ride along with a good ole early 20th century American adventure story, complete with liquor, whores, murder and debauchery, this is most definitely the read for you—and you’ll LOVE it! But if you’re looking for more depth based on the blurb, don’t be fooled by the O’Connor reference—you won’t find that kind of true soul of allegory here. 2.5 stars **

I received an advance-read copy of this book from the publisher, Doubleday, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


Art + Deco Agency Book Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Art + Deco Publishing Agency 384 When the bad bleeds, then is the tragedy good.
Vindice, The Revenger's Tragedy

Love Child of Ms. Southern Gothic and Mr. Spaghetti Western

(revisited rating, 8 months from reading: bumping up because this seems closer to 5 than 4)

From northern Georgia to southern Ohio (a trek covering the heart of Hillbilly Country), Pollock takes us with a trio of 3 lowborn, ruffian brothers on the run from the law in a sort of darkly crimson comic caper, a murderous meshugaas (Yiddish for craziness).

While Pollock, Donald Ray that is, deftly introduces a huge cast of characters, providing a mini-character sketch for each as he/she is introduced, it almost seems like he's too ambitious because there are so many characters without any one primary character.

I normally don't enjoy the scatological brand of humour. Yet here Pollock creates one of the most hilarious characters in a young sewage inspector whose equipment is so large he's embarrassed to show it to women (his mom had him checked out by the doctor in puberty to see if something was the matter with the boy). The early 1900s setting reminds of how much things have changed: now that a certain nominee for President of the USA raised the subject due to the smallness of his hands.

This tale is frequently funny; often gruesome, particularly in the dustups the brothers have along their journey; and, sometimes skanky and spicily obscene with a posse of prostitutes camped outside town. One thing it is never: boring.

I fully agree with the assessment of NPR's critic Jason Sheehan:

In its bloody, violent and terrible collisions, The Heavenly Table feels like Blood Meridian if Cormac McCarthy had been born with a streak of black humor in him rather than just terseness and rage.
As I said in the heading, the best way I can describe this book is to say it's the spawn of Southern Gothic and Spaghetti Western. 384 Gothic grit lit to the core. Dark, dismal, and full of despair - just the way I like it.

The year is 1917 and the ill-fated Jewett brothers have run afoul of the law. They have managed to bumble their way through a handful of bank robberies with limited success. With a price on their heads, they desperately ride toward Canada, hoping to start their lives anew. The Jewett boys find themselves taking a breather in the small town of Meade, Ohio. This is an ill-conceived notion, as they are not smart enough to blend.

An ill-tempered barkeep takes his surliness to the extreme using his backroom for something other than storage. Mule Miller eats glass, but no one knows about it except for Jasper Cone, the town's outhouse inspector. A man named Sugar has to wear a vine around his waist to hold up his pants, but is proud to own a fine hat. Bawdy whores abound, giving a clap doctor ample opportunity to proselytize on the merits of abstinence.

Raw and rude, dark and dirty. Those with delicate sensibilities, start running now. If you gravitate toward noir-ish goodness, this is one you'll want to read. 384 المائدة الربانية الرواية الثانية للكاتب الأمريكي دونالد راي بولوك بعد روايته الرائعة شيطان أبد الدهر وكنت أتوقع أن تكون هذه الرواية بنفس المستوي ولكن للأسف جاءت أقل من توقعاتي بكتير!

تدور أحداث الرواية عام ١٩١٧ عندما قررت الولايات المتحدة أن تشارك في الحرب العالمية الاولي..
من خلال مزارع يعيش هو وأبنائه في فقر مدقع، بياخدنا الكاتب لنري كيف تحول الابناء بعد وفاة والدهم لعصابة تقتل وتسرق البنوك وتم رصد مكافاة كبيرة لمن يعثر عليهم...

الراوية عبارة عن ٦٠٠ صفحة إلا إن إسلوب السرد كان ممتع و سلس و حتلاقي نفسك بتخلصها في يومين بالكتير وممكن أقل كمان..
الأحداث إلي حد ما مشوقة و الترجمة كانت جيدة جداً ولكن مش ممتازة ..

طيب فين المشكلة؟ليه نجمتين بس؟
لأ دي مش مشكلة واحدة ..دول مشاكل كتير..
علي الرغم إن الكاتب من خلال الأحداث بيلقي الضوء علي شكل المجتمع في الوقت دة بما فيه من عنصرية وفقر وإنتشار للجريمة والدعارة إلا إني شوفت القصة سطحية إلي حد كبير..
الحبكة غير مقنعة و حسيت في أوقات إني بتفرج علي فيلم أمريكاني قديم و في أوقات تانية كنت بحس انه فيلم هندي!
الكاتب إستعان بعدد مش قليل من الشخصيات والقصص الفرعية اللي بتظهر فجأة وتختفي فجأة و بدون داعي أحياناً مما أدي لزيادة حجم الرواية كما إنها لم تضف للعمل الكثير...
النهاية كمان كانت سيئة ومقتنعتش بيها و حتي ربطه بين القصص كلها في أخر الكتاب كان عادي أوي ولا يقارن مثلاً بإسلوبه و ربطه لأحداث أكتر وأعمق بكتير في رواية شيطان أبد الدهر...
وأخيراً العنوان ملوش أي علاقة بالأحداث أو نقدر نقول علاقة سطحية و هو مجرد عنوان جذاب للفت النظر مش أكتر ولا أقل..

رواية عادية ..تفتقد إلي العمق..حجمها كبير جداً بس علي الفاضي في الاخر..
لا ينصح بها! 384 Lewd, crude and rude, yep about sums it up. Reminded me a bit of the dark humor in The Sisters Brothers, plus the fact that the three brothers, two strangely named set off on a crime spree after the death of their father. He who always preached, in the midst of poverty and hunger, that they would be rewarded in the great beyond by being treated to a big banquet at the heavenly table. Crime spree, plenty of gore, prostitutes visited in a barn, a military encampment, all make for a good old rural southern gothic. Not for everyone but entertainment of a very dark nature by a talented writer. 384


It's amazing that this book was written by the same person that wrote The Devil All the Time. This one as much as it makes my heart hurt to say, reads like a first novel. It's kinda messy.

It starts with poor farmer Pearl Jewett, he loses his wife in a weird way that I was sure would have some meaning later in the story. I set myself up for disappointment several times thinking that in this book. Pearl then finds himself homeless with his three boys. None of whom would win any awards in the brains department except maybe Cane, the oldest. Pearl's philosophy of life comes from an old hermit who follows a white bird around. That you much suffer hard to be able to eat at the heavenly table when you are gone. So Pearl sets himself and his boys on a path of the most misery, since that gave him the satisfaction that the worst was the best thing that could happen.

Pearl was a dumbass.

Pearl later gets himself and the boys in a deal that has them working hard for just a few meager bits of food and Pearl drops dead. (Not really a spoiler)..the boys decide to leave the kind of life they had been living behind them and rob a bank or something. That starts their life of crime. It seemed like the boys all got a bit addicted to the killing/robbing thing. Especially since the one book that they had growing up was a penny thriller about a vigilante hero.

The boys start their journey with plans to go to Canada to start their real lives. The press and word of mouth has their legends and reward money growing as they try and get closer to where they are going.

I liked this part of the book. What lost me and ended up not really tying together was the LARGE cast of other characters. You have a farmer and his wife, who were swindled out of their life savings. Their son who pretty much just showed up in the book for a few minutes. A sanitary inspector who's large penis should have been a character of it's own. (It sorta was), a black man who lives off women, A gay military guy, and there are more. I just got bored typing up anything about them. Oh and then BAM the hippie bird following guy shows up again. Not that he ever makes any sense to the story. Half these characters don't.

I kept telling myself that I was reading a Donald Ray Pollock book, that I knew he would wrap everything up and it would make sense.
But not.
Then add in an ending that completely crapped the bed and you get two stars from me. Just for the few smiles I got from the stories about the whores.

Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.

Buddy read with my friend Sandra

384 I admit, I am spoiled by Devil All the Time, but this book is solid in it’s own way. Short chapters make for quick reading, but there are multiple story lines and several character arcs to keep track of, left me thinking it’s a little messy of a read. Regardless, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion, so I bumped up the rating. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and look forward to reading more from this author. 384 i interview donald ray pollock HERE:

best day ever.

Leaning over the horn of his saddle, Chimney spat and then said, Well, I don't know who those ol' boys are back there, but I don't figure they can shoot any better than we can.

Maybe, but there must be fifteen of them in that pack.

So? Chimney said. That many don't even amount to one box of shells.

so, donald ray pollock has written another book, and it's got all the things we like: outlaws and whores and war and torture and angry trained chimpanzees and drugs and light-bondage homosexuals and disfiguring bar fights and drinking and shooting and screwing and robbing and a man with a penis so big that it coils and poop and killing and killing and killing and killing and killing.

and you can't say the man doesn't write some descriptive-ass prose, as when a father bemoans his disappointing son, pinpointing where it all went wrong:

Eula had insisted that Eddie finish the sixth grade before he was allowed to quit school, and the farmer was convinced that a big part of the boy's problem had to do with his education. In other words, he had gotten just enough of it to fuck him up for the real world. Ellsworth had seen it happen before, mostly to flighty types like horny spinsters and weak-eyed store clerks with a lot of time to kill. They would stick their noses in a book and then all of a sudden Ross County, Ohio, wasn't good enough for them. The next thing you knew, they either got caught up in some perversion, like the old Wilkins woman who somehow managed to split herself open on a bedpost, or they lit out for some big city like Dayton or Toledo, in search of their destiny. Sometimes the line that divided those two impulses blurred until they amounted to pretty much the same thing, as in the case of the Fletcher boy the police found butchered in a hotel room in Cincinnati with a woman's wig glued to his head and his pecker tossed under the bed like a cast-off shoe.

books ruin everything! and this is only one of several instances in which books, reading, or education, lead these characters astray either in their too-lofty expectations for their own lives or in providing inappropriate role models to impressionable minds. damn you, books!

but this book is mostly great, although it is also not a smart place to look for role models. it's just not as great as either Knockemstiff or The Devil All the Time and it's largely down to the structure of the novel, which can be very frustrating. i am all about short stories as novels and i am all about multiple perspectives patchworked together to make up a narrative, so i was actually delighted when i found that this was the case here - a much more violent and saucier Our Town or Winesburg, Ohio, where characters either from or who will eventually converge in the small town of meade, ohio are allowed space to live out their story and win your sympathy or disgust until all paths cross and many of those paths'll be covered in blood. cuz it's a Donald Ray Pollock book, son.

and a lot of the situations here do have that wonderful winesburg flavor - people who are disappointed with their limited prospects, whose dreams are bigger than their surroundings, a chorus of voices raised in hopelessness, indignation, resignation:

-Lately, it seemed that wherever he turned, something beyond his comprehension was lying in wait to make him look like a fool.

-...why did he think things would be better somewhere else? They never had been. Not one time.

-He was right on the verge of finishing his first original composition, a slow, mournful piece in eight movements meant to capture the educator's dread of returning to the classroom after the bliss of the summer break. Tentatively titled Might as Well Hang Myself, he had been working on it off and on for the past several years.

-Trained in classics, he had entered the military with abnormally high expectations, but unfortunately, the men he had encountered so far were a far cry from the muscle-bound sackers of Troy or the disciplined defenders of Sparta that he had been infatuated with since the age of twelve. Still, even though the draftees had been a sore disappointment, both physically and mentally, he had quickly learned to deal with them. It was simply a matter of lowering one's standards to fit the circumstances. After all, how could one expect any of these poor, awkward, illiterate brutes to have even heard of Cicero or Tacitus when at least half of them had difficulty comprehending a simple order? In just a matter of days, he went from trying to form a Latin reading club to thinking that a lowly private who still had most of his teeth and could name the presidents was practically a paragon of good breeding and sophistication.

but it's not without some humor

Although Blackie tried to promote his new place as the Celestial Harem of Earthly Delights, it was hard for anyone to accept Virgil Brandon's goat shed as being anything close to an exotic playground; and, to his dismay, it quickly became known simply as the Whore Barn.

nor is it without that stoic acceptance of life's injustices that is so frequently found in these grit lit tales:

after her husband is conned out of their entire life savings, a wife is observed,

But then one November morning, two months after the swindle, he overheard her say to herself, Just have to start over, that's all. She was standing at the stove fixing breakfast, and she pursed her lips and nodded her head, as if she were agreeing with something someone else had said.

and there are so many wonderful small moments like these throughout the book; a rich scattered tapestry of tales.

however - the chapters are wicked short. how short, you ask? well, the book is 384 pages, and there are 72 chapters and an epilogue. most of the chapters are 4-5 pages, so you're only just dipping in and out of these separate viewpoints without being given much chance to process what has happened before being shoved back into someone else's path. and it's not that the characters aren't different enough and the reader gets confused, because pollock is great at variety and character and dialogue, but it's still jarring to keep popping in and out and not being given enough time in between to get comfortable.

ask any of the girls at the whore barn, and they'll tell you the same thing.

With a little trepidation, he pulled back the flap on the tent and stooped down a little as he entered. A woman with long blond tresses and a pretty face was squatted down over a bucket in the corner, but when she saw him, she sprung up and pulled her white slip down. She reached over and picked up a cigarette from a little wooden box on the table, then said with a frown, Just give me a couple minutes, okay? I need a smoke…I'm supposed to get five minutes between customers.

give us five minutes to clean our dirty bits before you come at us again, pollock!

i do think that it would have been a more enjoyable reading experience if he'd chosen a more leisurely pace instead of zip-zip-zipping between storylines, where the reader is hurtled through the story almost too quickly to appreciate all the really great and horrible things going on. in this case, the parts are stronger than the whole, but i'm going to give it four stars anyway because who's going to stop me, you? psssshhh.

in closing, i will leave you with some words of wisdom, from the mouths of babes, pollock-style:

A couple of hours later, as they made their way through a thorny brake in single file, Cob turned in his saddle and looked back at Chimney. Can I ask ye something? he said.

What's that?

If'n one of them whores you talk about is worth two or three dollars, how much ye figure a good ham cost?

Oh, probably about the same, I reckon. They wouldn't be much difference between a whore and a ham.

Well, then, Cob said, how many of them could we buy with the money we got?

Oh, I don't know. Maybe a hundred.

Whew,Cob exclaimed. That sounds like a lot.

Yeah, it'd take a day or two to fuck that many.

No, I mean, that's a lot of hams, ain't it?

Chimney laughed. You're goddamn right it is. Why, if ye was to eat that many hams, ye'd probably turn into a pig yourself.

Oh, that'd be fine with me, Cob said. All they do is lay around in the mud all day while somebody feeds 'em horseweeds and slop. Shoot, what more could a feller want out of life than that?


it's somewhere between a 3 and a 4 - i need to think on this a bit first. never expect a girl being prescribed painkillers to be able to make firm decisions.

come to my blog! 384 This Donald Ray Pollock sure can write a spiritual journey. This one is about a little white bird, a hermit and the Heavenly Table and it takes up about 3 pages early on in this story and then a couple more closer to the end. The other 350+ pages are a hellacious ride through 1917 historical fiction.

I go overboard with the trouble. That's what I heard Donald Ray say in an interview.
At the root of most of the trouble in this story is a book, The Life and Times of Bloody Bill Bucket by Charles Foster Winthrop III.
The Jewett Brothers, Cane, Cob and Chimney have two books, their mothers Bible and the Bloody Bill dime store novel. They can't make hide nor hair of the Bible but Cane reads to his brothers every night of the whore chasing, bank robbing Bill Bucket.
Other than the two books, the only thing these brothers own are the stinkin' rags they wear, so when they set out to rise above their squalored life, they do so the only way they think possible.
They steal some horses and set about bank robbin'. To everyone's surprise, they're good at it. And before long their saddle bags are full of money...
Cane wonders just how much money they may need for a fresh start somewhere far away from their new found fame.
Cob dreams of all the food they can now afford. Seventeen year-old Chimney is pretty sure he can now have all the whores he wants.

I was going to keep track of all the killings within this book. Maybe record the last words of those killed. Soon I discovered that was to much work.
I do remember that the multitude of characters were dispatched by the use of various firearms, shotguns, rifles and pistols. One fellow used a straight razor. Another used a machete that got stuck in a neck bone.
But there is a lot more to this story than bank robbin' and killin'. In order to help readers get to know these characters a little better, Donald Ray uses his considerable knowledge of several fetishes and one very psychopathic perversion.

I've tried several times to write a nice story.I can't do it. Donald Ray Pollock

typical Jewett family night
farther Pearl
sons: Cane, Cob, Chimney
page 3
Last night, as with most evenings whenever Pearl passed out on his blanket before it got too dark to see, Cane had read aloud to his brothers from The Life and Times of Bloody Bill Bucket, a crumbling, water-stained dime novel that glorified the criminal exploits of an ex-Confederate soldier turned bank robber cutting a swath of terror throughout the Old West.
Consequently, Chimney had spent the last few hours dreaming of gun fights on scorched desert plains and poon-tang that tasted like honey.

page 36
... since they'd first come across the Bloody Bill book, and it was always the same, Cob afraid of changing anything and Chimney burning to change it all. Of course, Chimney was right, nothing was ever going to get any better as long as they stayed with Pearl. And though Cane knew the book was fictitious, sometimes it still seemed closer to the truth than anything he had read in his mother's Bible. According to Charles Foster Winthrop III, the world was an unjust, despicable place lorded over by a select pack of the rich and ruthless, and the only way for a poor man to get ahead was to ignore the laws that they enforced on everybody but themselves. And from what Cane had seen in his twenty-three years of barely surviving, how could he disagree?

page 42,43
That afternoon, Pearl's stomach started acting up... Ever since they'd started eating on that sick hog, he'd been prone to the squirts. He was squatted down with his pants around his knees when he suddenly emitted a high-pitched cry and toppled forward on his face. His sons, scattered across the clearing, all turned and looked at one another.

page 161, 162
'I wouldn't call me that no more if I was you, Jasper replied, the smile plastered on his face growing even wider.
Oh, Saunders said with a laugh, and why not, you little turd?
Because I saw you over at the whore Barn the other night. Sucking on the toes of the fat one got the grease dabbed all over her face.
You're ... you're crazy, he finally managed to sputter.
Jasper winked and started to move on. I might be, but at least I'm not payin' money to lick a whore's dirty feet.'

page 182
' Because, son, in another hundred years, everything we deem worthwhile, over three thousand years of thought and tradition and learning, won't be considered any more important than what some tribe of dark-skinned savages has to say about a spirit they believe lives in a damn seashell. Don't you see? Everything will be looked upon as equal when really it's not.'

page 252
Cane and Cob stay in a hotel room
Of course, neither of them had ever used a commode before, and it took a minute or two to figure out exactly how it worked. Even then, Cob was afraid of it, and if it hadn't been for his brother telling him he'd get arrested, he would have gladly done his business in the ally behind the hotel rather than risk some sort of injury.

page 325
'I shot that thing so full of holes there weren't enough feathers left to fill a thimble.
'What kind of bird?
Oh, it was just a little white one. I got to say I never saw one like it before.
You mean like that one there? Ellsworth said, nodding at a small ivory-colored bird that had just landed on the hood of the automobile.
Sykes sat silent for a minute, chewing his bottom lip, watching the bird preen itself.
That sure looks like it, but ... but there's no way in hell that's the same one. Can't be.

page 350
He recalled something Bloody Bill had said one time, after an old Mennonite woman hid him under her hoop skirts and saved him from certain death, about how salvation is sometimes found in the strangest places. 384
على مسؤوليتي هذا التقرير

فإذا أراد القارئ أن يبلغ النشوة في منتهاها عليه أن يقرأ هذه الملحمة الروائية الأدبية التي يحق لها أن تتبوأ مكانة عظيمة في تاريخ الأدب الأمريكي حيث أن دونالد بلغ بها إلى مصاف أفضل الروايات العالمية

دونالد بوبلوك الذي كتب روايتان إلى الآن وبدأ حياته الروائية في عمر السابعة والخمسون يكتب عملاً قلما تجد له مثيلاً في ظل النتاجات المجدية والتي صرنا نبحث عنها كمن يبحث عن إبرة في كومة قش

حبكة متماسكة لا ترهل فيها وأسلوب أدبي منقطع النظير وسرد روائي لن يكرر،يعود بنا إلى بدايات القرن التاسع عشر ويجوب به أمريكا الحالمة بالأحلام الزائفة والمتشربة بروح العنصرية والعدالة الكاذبة ،،، حقيقة الخيالات المروية لا يضاهيها إلا حقيقة خيالات الكاتب وحبكة سرده التي سوف تصيبك بسخط الإنتهاء من صفحاته ...رواية تغني خارج السرب ومن أروع ما سوف يقرأ في تاريخ الأدب العالمي 384

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. The Heavenly Table

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