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 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 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 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.FOLLOW ME HERE Art Deco Agency Book Blog Twitter Instagram Art Deco Publishing Agency i interview donald ray pollock HERE 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 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 enjoyable reading experience if he d chosen a 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 could a feller want out of life than that indeed 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 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. Georgia, Der Farmer Pearl Jewett Will Sich Durch Seine Armut Auf Erden Einen Platz An Der Himmlischen Tafel Verdienen Und Seine Drei S Hne Darben Mit Ihm, Ob Sie Wollen Oder Nicht Nachdem Pearl Von Den Entbehrungen Ausgezehrt Stirbt, M Ssen Sich Die Jungen M Nner Allein Durchs Leben Schlagen Auf Gestohlenen Pferden Und Schwer Bewaffnet Pl Ndern Sie Sich Ihren Weg Durchs Land Dabei Folgen Sie Den Spuren Ihres Gro En Helden Bloody Bill Bucket , Einem Bankr Uber Aus Einem Groschenroman, Neben Der Bibel Das Einzige Buch, Das Die Jewett Br Der Kennen Einige Hundert Meilen Entfernt, Im S Den Ohios, Wird Ellsworth Fiddler Von Einem Trickbetr Ger Um Sein Ganzes Geld Gebracht Als Sein Weg Den Der Schie W Tigen Jewetts Kreuzt, Wendet Sich Sein Schicksal Unerwartet Zum Guten Die Br Der Hingegen M Ssen Einsehen, Dass Der Himmel, Den Man Sich Gemeinhin Ausmalt, Oft Schlimmer Ist Als Die H Lle, Der Man Entfliehen Will 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. When the bad bleeds, then is the tragedy good. Vindice, The Revenger s TragedyLove 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. This book s a 3.5 for me, but I rounded up because Pollock has such a wild love of language and story I think this novel is a bit of a mess, but it was also quite entertaining, sometimes funny, and even a little moving at the end Although on the surface it a hyper realistic depiction of early 20th century southern Ohio, I would venture it is of an alternate reality, history as carnival sideshow, a morally bankrupt and filthy world where you root for the bad guys who, in comparison to everyone else, end up looking not that bad Pollock throws in every trope known to literature there s an everything but the kitchen sink feel to the narrative but he has a great command of language, an exuberance that s hard to resist There are multiple story lines, which come together, some less successfully than others, but I did feel like Pollock always had a grasp on the chaos, even when stories spun out of stories that could seem both distracting and part of the kaleidoscope The Heavenly Table is thoroughly disgusting and depraved in every way imaginable, which makes it hard to recommend But I will say that Pollock s style is distinct and he is original, and I want to read his other books. America in 1917 wasn t the best of times With the advent of the automobile, and the many resulting accidents , indoor water closets, or lack thereof , and WWI far away, but in the background, it wasn t exactly a fun period in our history The Heavenly Table introduces us to the Jewett Family, below dirt poor and with a father gone slightly insane since his wife died He s trying to raise his boys, Chimney, Cob and Cane, the right way, but they re nearly starving to death trading today s joy for wealth tomorrow, at God s heavenly table We are also introduced to the Ellsworth family, the head of which was recently swindled out of the family s living savings The characters are the strength of this story Vividly drawn, realistic and understandable some of them I will never forget Another thing that stands out is the humor, it s sick as hell and runs rampant throughout The barn full of whores, the sanitation inspector, poor Jasper, you ll find out why , Pollard the insane bartender, and the crazy Lewis family and their chimpanzee They re all going to be sharing my brain space for a while.The only problem I had with this tale was the uneven pacing, but even that didn t bother me very much The characters were too interesting for me to leave them for any length of time This book is a great example of gritty literature, or grit lit, if you will It s imaginative, entertaining and even sickening at times, but always commanding my attention and making me laugh What could you ask from a good book Highly recommended to fans of gritty literature and dark humor Edited 7.22.16 Woot, I won a hardcover copy from Doubleday through the Goodreads giveaway Thanks Doubleday Thanks to Edelweiss and Doubleday for the eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review This is it. The blurb mentions that this is reminicent of Flannery O Connor and Cormac McCarthy, but I think I would throw in Mark Twain as well, if Twain had ever gone so dark Gothic.well yes, but not southern gothic since it takes place in Ohio Dark.well yes, but saved by the humor Funny.well yes, but leading us to some very bad places and characters I guess this one defies description or categorizing The Heavenly Table is where good people go when they die, if they have suffered enough here on earth You can t get there just by being good, you have to choose the hard road and actually suffer to get a place there According to a strange prophet who shows up in an early chapter Very brief synopsis 3 brothers go on a crime spree after the death of their father, lots of stuff happens Lots of people suffer.The brilliance of Donald Ray Pollock is that he shows us enough about each of these characters and what goes on inside their heads to make us root for them, even when they re acting very badly We get to know even very minor characters fairly well He wraps up every detail to perfection, breaks our heart, and leaves us satisfied with the ending.I am left at the end of this book thinking.hmmmm, can I actually recommend this book to friends Not sure about everyone, but I can tell you that I loved it Choose for yourself, just be prepared for anything.
Donald Ray Pollock was born in 1954 and grew up in southern Ohio, in a holler named Knockemstiff He dropped out of high school at seventeen to work in a meatpacking plant, and then spent thirty two years employed in a paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio He graduated from the MFA program at Ohio State University in 2009, and still lives in Chillicothe with his wife, Patsy His first book, Knockemstif
- 400 pages
- The Heavenly Table
- Donald Ray Pollock
- 01 August 2019 Donald Ray Pollock