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Tough love for literature

Episode 127: Spring of Success, Donald Ray Pollock (“Bactine”)


This week we’re talking about an unconventional literary success story. Donald Ray Pollock quit his job of 30 years at a paper mill, determined to give writing a go. If he didn’t make it after five years, he figured, he could always go back. Instead he wound up getting an MFA at Ohio State University, and a book deal for his first collection of stories, Knockemstiff, a fictionalized account of a real place in southern Ohio. He’s since published a novel, The Devil All the Time.

Here’s the author chilling on his front porch like a boss:


In the second half of the show, we talk about the proliferation of those “20 under 40”-style lists in the literary world, and why we’re so obsessed with youth.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, or wherever you get your podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode.

And if you want to check out Tom’s recent travel essays on his newly revamped site, you can go here.

Thanks for listening!


Download Episode 127 (right-click, save-as)


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

2 thoughts on “Episode 127: Spring of Success, Donald Ray Pollock (“Bactine”)

  1. My dad worked in a paper mill for 42 years — trust me, they stink like all hell;) Dad used to say it was the smell of money. I’m not so sure but it put me and my sister through college and gave us both a wedding within nine months of each other, so I guess he was right. Still, when there were issues at the mill that made him stink more so than usual, Mom made him change his clothes in the garage. Anyway, this is a great podcast – I like the philosophical thoughts on being older when you break into writing and why rejection can be so tricky as a publisher. Thanks for sharing this with us, guys!

  2. Yes, there was a dog in Mad About You, a collie mix named Murray. There was a running gag when he would run past Jamie & Paul chasing an invisible mouse and you would hear him crashing into a wall off-camera.

    Great episode, as usual. DH recommended I check out Pollock during the BH Online Workshop, so I guess I oughta get on that.

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