(Winner of the 2009 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize) Set in his Ohio hometown of Knockemstiff, and spanning the mid-1960s through the late 90s, this is Donald Ray Pollock's stunning debut collection of 18 linked stories. He gives us a recurring cast of irresistibly rough-hewn characters—including a father who pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up body builder; a sociopathic draft dodger who comes upon two siblings committing incest and feels compelled to take action—and starkly chronicles the sordid goings-on with a stern intelligence and a refreshingly dark sense of bottom-dog humor.
"Startling, bleak, uncompromising, and funny.... This is as raw as American fiction gets. It is an unforgettable experience."—SFChronicle