Saturday, February 10, 2007

McCarthyisms #5

The criticisms Myers has levelled at McCarthy remind me of derogatory remarks once made by Timothy Mo about the "verbosity" of Gabriel García Márquez.

Yet in spite of his at times very dense style it would be difficult to position the Colombian Nobel-winning author within a snooty intellectual elite. Perhaps he's helped himself by penning two genuine crowd-pleasers: Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Snooty intellectuals on the other hand, are more likely to cherish The Autumn of the Patriarch, whilst Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a bit of a writer's book. (I'm sure Myers would agree that it is one piece of fiction where a complex narrative style and dramatic tension can be seen to be complementing each other rather nicely.)

Anyway, there are parts of McCarthy's Blood Meridian where the debt to magical realism seemed particularly apparent. One of these is the comma-lite Comanche attack on Captain White's party, for me the most memorable passage in the novel:

"A legion of horribles; hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained wedding veil and some in headgear of cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armour of a Spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many width their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses' ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse's whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen's faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of Christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in Regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools."


No comments: