Knockemstiff, Ohio, is where Donald Ray Pollock was born in 1954. Fifty-four years later, Pollock published a book of short stories set in Knockemstiff, and a writer was launched. Much happened in between to make that writer. A high school dropout, Pollock worked in a paper mill most of his life. He didn’t stop dreaming about being a writer. “I’d always been a big reader, and I loved books, and I always thought writing would be a great way to get by in the world.” One thing Pollock did to prepare for writing was type out the stories of writers he admired.
“John Cheever, Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, Richard Yates, Denis Johnson, and the list goes on and on. If the story wasn’t overly long, I’d type it out. And I’d carry it around with me for a week and jot notes on it, and then I’d throw it away and do another one.” When he was 50 years old, Pollock enrolled in the MFA program at Ohio State University. Now an award winning published writer with two books, Pollock be at Augustana Thursday night to read from his fiction. I’d be there if I were you.