Tuesday, February 06, 2007

McCarthyisms #1

When not completely purple, the prose in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian has a certain evening redness of its own.

This is not, I hasten to add, a blanket criticism of an author whose talents as a scribbler are quite possibly greater than any other working in the world's favourite language. Yet as I near the end of this book, and a more serious commentary starts to take shape in my head, I have been wondering what to do about all those deliciously over-baked passages I have been marking out along the way; far more than I could realistically find a place for in my critique.

So, here they are, in daily-ish blog digest form. And the first is one I recited to my father over the weekend, extracting from him the kind of scowl he usually reserves for AA Gill's columns in the Sunday Times. ("Why use one word when you can use ten..." etc.)
"Like beings provoked out of the absolute rock and set nameless and at no remove from their own loomings to wander ravenous and doomed and mute as gorgons shambling the brutal wastes of Gondwanaland in a time before nomenclature was and each was all."
Stick your oven thermometer in that one! If I could be bothered, I would be counting the number of times McCarthy starts a simile in Blood Meridian with "like beings...".

1 comment:

scott said...

My theory is that McCarthy so internalized Faulkner--esp. Absolom, Absolom--that he thinks that is normal writing!

And to be fair, like Faulkner and Melville before him, he's going for that King James cadence in order to lend gravity to the proceedings.

Note to self: must re-read some Faulkner.