I will admit up front I am a sucker for books that win prizes. If you couldn’t tell from my earlier post, however, I’ve become suspect of those awards over the years. But because Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road won the Pulitzer Prize, (also chosen for Oprah’s Book Club) I picked it up and scanned the first few pages. I liked it, so I bought it (a few days later at a used book store) and used it as my recreational read during school. And I was glad I did. The man alone has a great vocabulary, had me running to the dictionary more than a few times, and a really great style. He is also the author of No Country for Old Men, which is a really good movie.

Because of that I looked into his other works and picked up one of his other novels Blood Meridian. And I did that entirely because of the quotation from the review on the front cover which says “‘A classic American novel of regeneration through violence. McCarthy can only be compared with our greatest writers, with Melville and Faulkner, and this is his masterpiece.’ – Michael Herr” (I know, this is the perfect example of me judging a book by its cover, but seriously, covers can be informative. But I’m still not sure who Michael Herr is.) But that’s a serious recommendation if I’ve ever read one, so I decided right then and there I’d buy it and read it. And I did. And I was amazed. It is unlike any other book I have ever read.

The first thing about the book is it’s style. Particularly because it’s style is probably unlike anything you’ve ever encountered before. Cormac McCarthy is smart and you can tell immediately. He writes words you’ve heard but never seen before. He writes with the confidence of genius in his voice. He references mythology and the Bible in his language and plot. The closest book I can possibly compare in uniqueness alone has to be Beloved by Toni Morrison, if only because they are such contained novels both in this world but certainly only of their author’s imagination.

This is why, finding myself in a rare mood, I will take the plunge and say Cormac McCarthy the author is a man worth reading. Even though I have not read all of his books, or even half, or even a quarter, from what I have read I have only been astounded. And you have to discover them for yourself. His books are simply one of a kind creations that you will not find anywhere else.

I found this in his wikipedia article:

B. R. Myers, in his article “A Reader’s Manifesto“, identifies McCarthy’s writing as an example of what he believes to be the “growing pretentiousness” of contemporary American literature. Myers comments specifically on word repetition, “parallelisms” and “pseudo-archaisms” present in McCarthy’s works.

He criticizes McCarthy for muscular prose, and “an unpunctuated flow of words.” But his criticism I find partly (which he argues against) is seeing the trees and not the forest. And especially in the case of some instances a sentence that simply packs a large amount of action connected by “and”s reinforces the intended projection. Because it is not very important, all of the actions were shoved together into one sentence altogether, nothing emphasized and therefore nothing important. I find the overall effect of McCarthy’s prose to be infective and expansive.

This man’s body of work is definitely something to read.