Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quick Book Review: Blood Meridian

Earlier this year, I read Cormac McCarthy's more recent The Road and was totally blown away by his unique style and gift for impossibly deep insight. He is sparse with commas and altogether forgoes quotation marks in favor of a muscular, challenging prose that forces you to hold on tight lest you lose the thread.

Challenging though The Road was, Blood Meridian makes it seem like a lazy Sunday skim. For one, replace the familiar plainspeak of the vaguely modern people of the former with the frontier tongue of the mid-19th century latter. For many, can't becomes caint, apostrophes become nearly extinct, and the analogies and metaphors often reach plateaus so dizzying you'll have to stop and re-read them once, twice, three times before you can really appreciate their weight.

If you are a writer, this book (and everything McCarthy writes, for that matter) is required reading. He will expand your vocabulary while shrinking your waistline as you sprint endlessly between the book and your thesaurus. Most of all, though, you'll realize that Rules are for Fools, and that Story wins above all. McCarthy doesn't simply disregard these norms and standards, he peels them off like dead skin and slaps you upside yo' head with them.

But be warned, this is not a friendly world. Fans of "realistic" fantasy such as Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire will never look at those books the same way after they see one of Glanton's killers walk out of an adobe holding two infants by their heels and slamming them until their brains spill in the clay. All the more disturbing is how commonplace these events are, and how little regard men can have for their fellows once they've convinced themselves they are dealing with things less-than-human.

There are expriests and judges and professional scalpers, killers and madmen and suspected pedophiles. There are places that seem touched by divination and men who are less than gods but something more than man, all seen through the eyes of a young man known only as the kid. I'll tell you no more for fear of setting you off in the wrong direction, as this novel is a desert that you may easily get lost in. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up.


  1. I'll have to add this one to my reading queue. The Road is one of my all-time favorites, and so far the only McCarthy I've devoured in 24 hours.

  2. Have you read Suttree? I've heard some say it's his best work, but I'm also dying to read No Country For Old Men, which is one of my all-time favorite movies.