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Happy Shopper #24: Donald Ray Pollock

Donald Ray Pollock is the author of the exceptional (in any language) Knockemstiff, which has just become available in the UK. Here, he shares with us how to shop well back home in Ohio.

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by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2008
I realize I should be shot for driving something like that, considering the gas prices and the environment, and I try to only drive short distances with it.
by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2008
I realize I should be shot for driving something like that, considering the gas prices and the environment, and I try to only drive short distances with it.

Donald Ray Pollock's critically acclaimed collection of threaded together short stories about Knockemstiff, Ohio rare-do-wells, Knockemstiff, has just been published in the UK with decidedly duller jacket art than the US version. They probably like that kind of thing there. Truly though, buy! buy! buy! that's the only dull moment you'll find cover to cover.

1. What was the last electrical appliance you bought?
That would be a Maytag washer and dryer (stack) that my wife and I bought for around 1800 bucks at the local Lowe's about two months ago.

2. How many shoes do you own?
I own twelve pair of shoes, but keep in mind that three pairs are old work boots that I wore at the paper mill and keep for sentimental reasons. Two pairs are old tennis shoes that I use for yard work and walking in the mud. A couple more pairs are just shoes I haven't gotten around to tossing out yet.

3. Thinking about only what you are wearing now and including your watch, jewelry and glasses if you wear them, how much would it cost me to get dressed up just like you? And where would I have to go to get the look?
Okay, I'll just break it down first:
A white Stafford T-shirt from Sears: $5.00
A pair of Lee jeans from Penny's: $29.00
A pair of Dr, Scholl's leather shoes from some shoe store up near Cleveland (I bought them on my way home from doing a reading there): $59.00.
A cheap Speidel watch (purchased three years ago from a jewelry store that's no longer in business here in Chillicothe, Ohio): $39.00.
A pair of brown socks from Sears: $3.00.

I guess the total would be approximately $135.00.

Knockemstiff4. What are you going to be eating for dinner tonight?
Almost every Saturday evening, my wife and I get a pizza and watch a movie (I live a pretty boring life most of the time). Tonight, we are ordering the pizza from a new place about two blocks away on Fifth Street called Hooks on the Hill and watching a Val Lewton double feature: The Leopard Man & The Ghost Ship (from Netflix). Later, after gorging on the pizza, I will probably eat half a carton of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I try to eat pretty good most of the time (except when I'm traveling), but I usually binge on some junk food on Saturday nights.

5. What is the most amount you have ever spent on a bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage and when and what was it?
Okay, that a tough one because I haven't had a drink since September 1986. I guess it would have to be fifths of Smirnoff's vodka, but I don't really recall exactly how much a fifth cost back then. Maybe $21.00?

6. What and where is your favorite shop?
I live in a small town that has been pretty much overrun and destroyed by the big chains like Wal-Mart, so there isn't much of a selection anymore. My favorite shop in Chillicothe would have to be Book World on Water Street. It's the only bookstore within a thirty-five mile radius, maybe more. I think the next closest bookstore is in Columbus, an hour away. Book World is small, but they sell used and new books and have been a big supporter of Knockemstiff.

7. How do you get around town?
I mostly drive a blue 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue, a real gas hog, but a nice ride. It was owned by a ninety-year old man and only had 49,000 miles on it when I bought it three years ago, and had always been garaged (it doesn't have a rust spot on it). I realize I should be shot for driving something like that, considering the gas prices and the environment, and I try to only drive short distances with it. When I take a long trip, I use my wife's car: a 2003 Chrysler Sebring.

8. Where is your favorite place to holiday?
That's a tough one. The best vacation I ever took was in London, England, maybe fifteen years ago. I spent eight days there, and I have to say that that was the only time in my life I ever really enjoyed a big city. I love the northern coast of Maine, and the whole state of Vermont, and Cape Hatteras, South Carolina. With all that said, I sometimes think that I really would rather just sit on my porch and talk to my dog. Her name is Traddles, by the way.

Knockemstiff excerpted on NPR here
More about Donald Ray Pollock here

Happy Shopper questions devised by Kirk Lake

see more stories from outsideleft's Fiction & Poetry archive »»


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