Re: RARA-AVIS: "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy

From: James Michael Rogers (
Date: 13 Jul 2009

  • Next message: Brian Lindenmuth: "Re: RARA-AVIS: "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy"

    I was waiting for this to come up with some trepidation because I found McCarthy to be very poor stylist. I realize I am swimming upstream here, as the critics just love him. Makes one wonder how far Jim Thompson could have gone had he been writing in the right decade. It seems to me to be a mixture of bad Celine, bad Hemingway and bad Stephen King. In fact, thematically, Blood Meridian is quite comparable to King's The Dark Tower. That's not a compliment, except insofar as the King book is marginally less pretentious.

    There used to be a great article on the web called "This Is No Country For Old Copy Editors" that just annhilated McCarthy's style from the old-fashioned, technical standpoint as well as from the perspective of the sterility of his descriptive powers. The only other time I've seen anyone get treatment that harsh was when John Gardner trashed Harlan Ellison's writing. The article doesn't seem to be available on-line any longer but if anyone has a copy I would love to read it again.

    Further, I have become quite weary of the kind of self-conscious mythologizing of the west that is so fashionable these days. I couldn't stand it in Welcome to Hard Times, either, so I can't blame that just on McCarthy. But I think it's easier to do that sort of thing than it is to come up with credible dialogue and strong characters. I mean is the protagonist of Blood Meridian anything more than a cipher?

    I'm prepared to be more or less flamed for this opinion. As I no longer have a copy of Blood Meridian, I apologize in advance for not being able to currrently engage in the kind of close textual analysis that I am recommending. It's just my two cents anyway.



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