RARA-AVIS: "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy

From: Jack Bludis (buildsnburns@yahoo.com)
Date: 13 Jul 2009

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    Let me say first that in spite of my recent praise in incessant violence is starting to wear on me, but I will finish the book.

    First MRT said:

    >>Speaking personally, the impact of a Cormac McCarthy novel is visceral and is felt, not intellectualized.<<

    I feel it is both. You certainly feel it. But for me, it was the writing that kept me with the book not the desire for the experience. Cormac McCarthy, in the three and three-quarter books that I have read, demands that I pay attention or miss something. (Of course I could stop reading but the writing and the images are too compelling.)

    He developed his style and structure by the time he wrote "The Road" that I was with the characters (visceral) and the style drew me to know that even when nothing was happening, I'd better damn well pay attention.

    MRT also said:

    >>Much of the best hardboiled literature that we discuss here works similarly. So maybe Chandler's stories lack structure, sometimes it's not clear who did what or why... does it matter?<<

    Yes, I agree, and it doesn't matter. I feel that way with almost any hardboiled novel. It's the experience.

    James Michael Rogers says:

    >>I think we can come to some general conclusions as to what "good style" is:

    >>1) It should be clear. It should convey meaning. Where possible it should be direct. Grammar is not a mere affectation but a logical structure. If one feels one like departning from these principles, one should have a sound reason.

    OK, there is a lot there that I agree with. I think that McCarthy's prose does convey meaning. I believe he departs from the principles to make us pay attention or stop reading. Obviously, many here stopped reading "Blood Meridian." I won't in spite of the fact that it continues to get uglier, but that is not masochism. I want to see where he goes with it, even thought I know from reading a ton of reviews in the past few days, how it ends.

    James also says:

    >>2) Descriptions should be vivid and, where possible, fresh.<<

    If the writing in "Blood Meridian" isn't vivid, I don't think you're paying close enough attention.

    >>3) Dialogue should sound natural, not "Bookish".<<

    I agree.

    4) Prose should be evocative but not at the expense of one of the other virtues.

    Not quite sure what that means.

    >>5) POV is tricky. Be careful.<<

    This is my one major criticism of both the book and the writing. I seems to go from character to character and then to back up into the omniscient POV. Sometimes the POV character internalizes in words he cannot posses.

    >>6) Ditto for similies and metaphors.<<

    I haven't notice many in "Blood Meridian," so they must be all right because I hate similes and metahors. (Which is why I can't get into Ross MacDonald.

    Agree with his description of Henry James, but not of Faulkner.

    I think I've said enough for now.

    Someone on another list today said of one person's praise of a certain passage in a novel that he didn't like it at all and that "neither of us is wrong."

    That is how I feel generally about most subjects that depend on opinion, especially the arts.

    I love Picasso. Some think that makes me a fool or a dupe.

    Art is in the eye and ear of the beholder.

    I am looking forward to further discussion ... or at least to commenting on some of the other posts on the subject.

    Thanks for the use of the hall.

    Jack Bludis

    Read, read, read. Write, write, write. http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/JackBludis


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