A father and his son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the men who stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food – and each other. (book
My rating: ★★★★★
Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving. (book blurb)
My rating: ★★★★
“Why do it to yourself?” I hear you ask. One of the joys of being in a bookclub is to pick up novels that you would not normally read. You also look like a gumby if you don’t finish them, or at least give them a decent shot.
Yes, I knew that Cormac McCarthy had won the Pulitzer Prize and that he is considered by many to be amongst the greatest American novelists of all time, but I was also award that his works are dark, miserable and violent – not quite Jane Austen!
Reading reviews of these two books it was clear that people either love him or they hate him – there is not a lot of grey in between. I think that this sums up his work and the fact that it evokes so many strong emotions in people: you are left reeling. Many also don’t make it through the first few pages of the latter book as the violence is so confronting.
I usually don’t do violence as a rule but the beauty contained in McCarthy’s words seems to counterbalance it. The way he describes the landscape in Blood Meridian and the love story between the father and son as they struggle to find some sense of hope to go on in The Road, is magic.
So much has been written about these two books (and argued about), that I simply want to add they are both horrid yet hauntingly beautiful. If, like me, you occasionally want to move out of your reading comfort zone, then this will be a
true test of your stamina.
Give them a go, but maybe not back to back like I did. I had to read some serious chick lit after them to numb the pain.