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Milo MInderbinder

Blood Meridian: or The Evening Redness in the West

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By Cormac McCarthy.

 

"You can find meaness in in the least of creatures, but when god made man the devil was at his elbow."

 

This book is a Western. But it isn’t. To me what the term Western has come to mean is the loveable, corny, and historically revisionist films that were big in Hollywood in the 1940’s and 1950’s. In most of which the leading man (usually replete in a white shirt and brand new Stetson) will at some point walk into a saloon, the saloon will fall silent/the piano player will stop, the leading man will fix a steely glare and address a blackly clad gunslinger at the end of the bar with a line like “I’ve come for you Jed McGrew” or some such nonsense, and then there will be a fist fight between the two (usually leading to the collapse of a card table), and then the leading man shoots the gunslinger and gets the girl and they sojourn to the nearest sunset, The End. None of the aforementioned happens in Blood Meridian. Although I have since reading the book read on the internet that there is a luke-warm film project to get BM to the big screen. The film could only ever be a very loose adaptation of the novel because of the human destruction depicted in the book.

 

The story is set in the Texan and Mexican border country of the 1840’s and tells the tale of a group of mercenaries who set out to earn some money by delivering to the authorities the scalps cut from some of the members of the native American tribes in that area. The story starts in Tennessee where our central character (referred only to in the book as ‘Kid’) is recruited into the hunting party of cutthroats. The book is typical of McCarthy’s style. He depicts the deserts, skies, mud, and mountains of the south-west states of the U.S so vividly that you can almost hear and not just feel the heat. The story is littered with exchanges between the transitory gang and the strange and colourful characters and situations they find themselves in. This is probably the most violent book I have ever read. Its set in a place which wasn’t just lawless, but a place where evolution and reason have no hold over anything. The savagery in the book is from both the native Americans and the white race but mainly from the whites who saw the prehistoric aboriginals as nothing more than animals.

 

I often spot similarities between the art of Bob Dylan and Cormac McCarthy. Each of them offer up imagery in either lyrics or prose in which they trust the reader or listener to take what they have offered up and lock into it. What McCarthy gives you in his books is a panorama of a bygone America and its people which will not be found on the History Channel. Blood Meridian is heaven and hell, man and woman, wilderness and human, sky and earth, and good and evil.

 

One of my favorite Dylan lyrics is "The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face". I'm sure Bob wouldn't mind if I stole and amended the line but with McCarthy: The ghosts of America howl from every line of his page.

 

His is an original and ageless poetic style for those who jump head first into it.

 

PS: Re: Lyric. Sorry Bob. :smile:

Edited by Milo MInderbinder

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I am half way through it at the moment. I am enjoying the his vivid descriptions but the characters are hard to connect with in any way... maybe that's the point, I'm not sure.

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There is a review from the Irish Times on the back cover of my copy that sums it up nicely.

 

"An amoral, apocalyptic dimension through the Miltonic grandeur of the language... It is a barbarously poetic odyssey through a hell without purpose"

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I am half way through it at the moment. I am enjoying the his vivid descriptions but the characters are hard to connect with in any way... maybe that's the point, I'm not sure.

 

Hi Tim

 

Re: Character connection. I think out of all the McCarthy stuff I have read I have only connected with a couple of his characters. Mainly the two boys in his 'Border' trilogy books and Lester Ballard in 'Child of God'. I find his novels are more about human morality as a whole than seperate individuals.

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I have only read Blood Meridian and Child of God. I have the Border Trilogy in my TBR pile but I think I will try No Country for Old Men next.

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I have read all of McCarthy's work and was trying to find something much like it. I love westerns too. I stumbled across a free download on Amazon called The Flames Of Perdition. It is a Western but has a bit of a twist at the end and is quite like McCarthys work. I think McCarthy was trying to fill the void left by Faulkner and I believe much of his work is a re-hash of Faulkner's, the same Poetic prose, the philosophical undertones, the theme of violence that shapes and moulds the story.

Anybody think that No Country For Old Men was his best work??

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