I read a new novel by Donald Ray Pollock and it's potent stuff. Set in the town of Knockemstiff Ohio, it is American gothic writing at it's darkest. Serial killers, corrupt cops and preachers that prey on teenage girls. Some of the passages are hard to take, but the writing is so compelling I kept turning the pages.
The impoverished characters, the crime, and lack of education reminded me of William Gay, Larry Brown, and Flannery O'Connor stories. They do what they must to get by and have plenty of bad habits that they revel in. It's hard to find a likable character, but the young boy at the center of the story, Arvin, is the most likable and he perhaps finds some redemption at the end, even though it's through violence.
Pollack worked at a paper mill for 30 years before he got his first book published, a collection of short stories called Knockemstiff. He got an MFA from Ohio State and proceeded to write "Evil All the Time." This book is not for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend it. If you like Tom Wait's darker stuff, this is for you.
Read more about Pollack and his books here: http://donaldraypollock.com/