Thursday, 6 September 2012

BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy


I’ve read and loved ALL THE PRETTY HORSES and THE ROAD. The latter I finished in tears as the bath water cooled around me. In this case, third time is apparently not the charm because I found BLOOD MERIDIAN a disappointment.

I suspect this is because I can now see the book as part of a pattern of the author's interests. It is set in the American West, and is about a group of men who ride out to kill some other men. Just like THE ROAD and ALL THE PRETTY HORSES were about men on a quest to kill other men. Two are sort of horse related, one more cannibal related, but that’s the basic MO. It's violent, everybody's silent, everybody's men.

I guess I found it sort of dull. I mean just try this:

They rode in a narrow enfilade along a trail strewn with the dry rounds of turds of goats and they road with their faces averted from the rock wall and the bake-oven air which it rebated, the slant black shapes of the mounted men stenciled across the stone with a definition austere and implacable like shapes capable of violating their covenant with the flesh that authored them and continuing autonomous across the naked rock without reference to sun or man or god.

The choice of the word ‘enfilade’ was the one that cracked this camel’s back. I mean REALLY, CORMAC MCCARTHY REALLY? Do you really need to use a shooting term for describing people walking in single file? And when I say people, I mean men. Because Mr McCarthy sure as hell is not interested in women. I can’t recall off hand any women in these books, but if they do exist and I’ve forgotten I bet you any money they are rape victims.

There were still beautiful bits.
The floor of the playa lay smooth and unbroken by any track and the mountains in their blue islands stood footless in the void like floating temples.
I love that about the mountains. I can hardly look at them anymore without hearing that line.

What makes me especially sad is that I think this may have ruined THE ROAD for me, which was previously one of my favourite books. It’s no longer a great book about meaning in the face of adversity, but rather some plump middle aged man sweating out his fantasies.

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