Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Authors to Note: Cormac McCarthy

Beautiful, brutal, tender, and sometimes bleak, I don't know many writers who can elicit such a range of emotions in one book and yet, for all of these emotions that Cormac McCarthy infuses into his novels there is a real subtlety to how he tells his stories, a quiet sense of something much stronger that lurks into your subconscious long after reading. I was blown away by the beauty of All the Pretty Horses, the story of John Grady Cole, a young Texan rancher who rides across the boarder into Mexico with his younger brother. There is something timeless about this book, the landscape of the Mexican border is as much a character as John Grady and his brother and with little to reference to anything other than the land and other people and villages they pass there is very little to suggest the time that they inhibit.

I think my favourite thing about reading a Cormac McCarthy novel is they way he writes dialect. No punctuation, his Southern talkin' drawlin' characters come right off the page, it almost feels like reading a screenplay or a script, I can hear the character saying their lines. This is like the antithesis to every flowery overly-wordy descriptive novel ever written and it adds such a realness to the characters coming alive.

In No Country For Old Men, Llewellyn Moss comes across a drug deal gone wrong. With dead bodies littering the scene, a pickup filled with heroin and $2million unclaimed, Llewelllyn takes the money and heads on the run. Violent, unpredictable and utterly thrilling.

Cormac McCarthy is an author who isn't afraid to throw something unexpected at his audience. All I can say is try not to get too attached to any characters, as there isn't always a happy ending. The harsh landscapes of Southern Texas, where most of his novels are set is reflected within his characters. A harsh climate breeds a harsh life and McCarthy doesn't seem to have a lot of sentimentality in keeping his characters alive just to satisfy a happy ending. But in a landscape where life is hard, hope is also a strong element.

Have you read any novels by Cormac McCarthy?


  1. I adore Cormac McCarthy. His ability to coax an environmental tone through poetic prose mashed with his uncanny ability to produce authentic dialect makes him one of my favorite authors. I'm glad others love him as much as I do!

    1. I know for some people his lack of punctuation is a deal breaker, but I think it really adds to the dialect, plus it makes him seem like a bit of a renegade as an author, which I quite admire!


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