Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock
Knockemstiff is a pitch-dark and often hilarious collection of stories set in the tiny Appalachian town of Knockemstiff, Ohio, a community so deprived and diminished it no longer appears on any map. The youth of Knockemstiff grow up in the malignant shadow of their parents; raised on abuse, alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, they are stunted in every possible way: emotionally, mentally, sometimes physically. They talk a lot about escape but they never so much as cross the county line. The stories in Knockemstiff are simple and compact, blunt and brutal, but are also infused with a deep sympathy for the incapacitating loneliness of poverty, neglect and severely limited horizons. Knockemstiff is a human, very funny and unforgettable debut from a stunning new voice in American fiction.