In encouraging Bud Parr of Chekhov’s Mistress in his reading of Cormac McCarthy, Mark Allen Cunningham left a link in the comments to this post. It goes to his essay on The Art of Reading Cormac McCarthy which was published in Poets & Writers in the Sept/Oct 2007 issue.
It is an excellent guide to understanding and appreciating the power of his stories and the nuances of language that he uses for effect. As Cunningham states:
To the author’s avid admirers, the mainstream adulation now being heaped upon McCarthy is bittersweet, for they are painfully aware that this attention is long overdue. Consider the almost total silence with which McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian, or, The Evening Redness in the West (Random House, 1985) was received when it first appeared.
That book, now rightfully recognized as a masterpiece, is a brutal and uncompromising depiction of nineteenth-century bloodlust along the Texas-Mexico border, and deploys the author’s stylistic maximalism and paradoxical philosophy to devastating effect. Harold Bloom has cited Blood Meridian as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. In a list compiled by the New York Times, the book ranked among the top five novels published between 1980 and 2005. It also appears on Time magazine’s roster of the top hundred books of all time.
McCarthy is still one of my favorite writers; he lies perhaps on the extreme edge (maybe over the edge) of pushing the novel further in both elegance and grimey realism while elements of the surreal drop down to cloak the horror in softer form. I like the boldness with which he describes the natural: the earth and sky and mountains; the depths of man’s nature.
Seems time again to absorb the man through my eyes and hands and mind. To suck some more of him into me.