Spanning a period from the mid-sixties to the late nineties, the stories in KNOCKEMSTIFF feature a cast of recurring characters who are woebegone, baffled, and depraved--but irresistibly, undeniably real. Rendered in the American vernacular with vivid imagery and a wry, dark sense of humor, these thwarted and sometimes violent lives jump off the page at the reader with inexorable force. A father pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up body builder. A psychotic rural recluse comes upon two siblings committing incest and feels compelled to take action. Donald Ray Pollock presents his characters and the sordid goings-on with a stern intelligence and a bracing absence of value judgments. With artistic sensibilities reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor and Harry Crews, Pollock offers a powerful work of fiction in the classic American vein. KNOCKEMSTIFF is a genuine entry into the literature of place.