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Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  72,123 Ratings  ·  6,676 Reviews
An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts 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 Tennesseean who stumbles into the nig ...more
Paperback, 25th Anniversary Edition, 351 pages
Published May 5th 1992 by Vintage (first published April 28th 1985)
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Dustin Steinacker Two reasons I suspect:

First, he's got a personal philosophy/credo, and he punishes people who don't hold themselves to it (not unlike Chigurh from No…more
Two reasons I suspect:

First, he's got a personal philosophy/credo, and he punishes people who don't hold themselves to it (not unlike Chigurh from No Country for Old Men). In this case it's an unwavering commitment to war and bloodshed. He saw the kid as the sole member of the party who wavered in that commitment, or at least presented himself as having that perspective.

Second, remember all of that stuff about things existing only with his consent? He sketched an ancient piece of armor and then destroyed it, and later on sketched an old cave painting and then destroyed it. I think there's something he enjoys about being a witness of something and then removing it from existence. With he and the kid the last surviving members of Glanton's Gang I think he's pretty inclined to make everything that happened in that narrative a memory for him and him alone.(less)
Loretta Benham Owens And what about after the kid is recruited and taken to town to purchase clothing, boots, etc? Was he the one lying in the pool of blood? I went back…moreAnd what about after the kid is recruited and taken to town to purchase clothing, boots, etc? Was he the one lying in the pool of blood? I went back and re-read a few times and still felt very confused. (less)

Community Reviews

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Jan 13, 2014 Hamish rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-lit, lit
The man finished the book. He closed the pages tightly together then put one foot on the floor then the other then used his hands to push himself up out of the chair and then put one foot in front of the other until he had walked all the way to the book shelf and then put the book on the book shelf. The deer walked in. The man whirled around and fired once with his pistol and the brains of the deer went flying out the back of its head and painted the wall a color dark red like blood. The man sat ...more
Oct 22, 2011 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NOT the faint of heart
Shelves: blood-meridian
Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is unquestionably the most violent novel I’ve ever read. It’s also one of the best.

For those who would consider that a turn-off, I offer this caveat:
For the overwhelming majority of fiction that involves a lot of violence, the violence itself is an act of masturbation representing either the author’s dark impulse or, perhaps worse, pandering to the reader’s similar revenge fantasies (this might explain why the majority of Blood Meridian fans I know personally are

Spilled...emptied...wrung outsoul-ripped...that pretty accurately sums up my emotional composition after finishing this singular work of art. Ironically, I’m sure I only absorbed about 10% of the “message” McCarthy was conveying in this epic exposition on war, violence and man’s affinity for both. Still, even with my imperfect comprehension, I was shaken enough by the experience that, though I finished the book days ago, I’m just now at the point where I can revisit the jumble in my head enoug
Jan 09, 2012 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing
Shelves: usa, mttbr-2012
This is Jane Austen antimatter.

Trying to convey how this was so different to anything I've ever read, it occurred to me that it was like a huge black vortex that would suck early nineteenth century marriage plot novels into the void. It's the complete obverse of sweet girlie stuff: no lurve, no irony (I wonder if Cormac McCarthy has a humour mode? If he does, he certainly wasn't in it writing this), no insightful self-discovery or examination of the human heart. No, this is bleak and bloody, go
Sep 17, 2007 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to believe in the inherent evil of mankind
Shelves: literature
There are two ways to evaluate a book, as far as my unlearned mind can concoct at the moment. Stylish literary flourishes sometimes cloud our judgment when it comes to evaluating the plot itself, which is, after all, the reason why the book exists.

This book is well written. If I'm a 11th grader, and I need to do a book report, I'm drooling over the blatant symbolism dripping from each page. The scene is set admirably, though the repetitive nature of our brave hero's wanderings (at least it's wit
The wiki page for 'manifest destiny' has a picture of a painting by John Gast depicting an angelic figure (personification of America) purposefully drifting towards the west, her pristine white robes and blonde curls billowing in the breeze, a book nestled in the crook of her arm. Airborne, she awakens stretches of barren, craggy terrain to the magical touch of modernization. The landscapes she leaves behind are dotted by shipyards and railways and telegraph wires strung on poles but to her left ...more
*Updated, now with an additional McCarthyized section of the Bible, moved up from the comment section.*

Here's what I'm thinkin.


Ever since reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I've been considering the possibilities of revisiting the classics and, um, reinterpreting them. Butchering? Yes, you're probably right. Butchering them. That's the right word.

Anyway, since Cormac McCarthy has the most distinctive and powerful voice of any modern writer (that I've read recent
Dan Schwent
In the old west, a young man falls in with a bad crowd, scalphunters, and the worst of them all, the judge.

It's not often when I can't figure out how to summarize a book. Not only does Blood Meridian fall into this category, I'm also struggling with trying to formulate my thoughts about it. I'm sure it's one of those big important books that has themes and things of that nature. It seems apocalyptic at times, with the judge showing the kid the horrors of the world, kind of like the devil and Jes
J. Kent Messum
Quite possibly the most chilling and horrifying book ever written, 'Blood Meridian' is a unnerving glimpse of humanity at its worst during one of the most savage periods in American history. McCarthy pulls back the curtain to reveal the unforgivable evils and trespasses our species made all too often and all too easily in a new world, a novel that shows us the true price we paid in bodies and blood for the expansion of the 'Wild West'.

Unlike some of Cormac's other work, 'Blood Meridian' is not
Feb 03, 2016 Lyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Blood Meridian, I may never view a western film the same way again.

To be certain, it is a masterpiece, a rare and unique work of literature that rises above classification and genre. And to be certain, McCarthy must be viewed as a great American writer, one of the greatest in our time.

That having been said, this book is not for everyone; it is painfully brutal, violent at it's heart. McCarthy's primitive writing style emphasizes this primal, bloody landscape like a Jonathon Edwar
That's so, said the judge. They do not have to have a reason. But order is not set aside because of their indifference.
Rugged individualism.

There's a whole unholy host of words one could use in reckoning with this, some more explicated than others. Penchants for ideological idiosyncrasies and survival have shaped mine; yours are your own. May the last speaker standing still breath.
Ye carry war of a madman's making onto a foreign land. Ye'll wake more than the dogs.
History, human, homicide. W
Fuck yeah. This is great. I felt fully absorbed and enclosed in the nightmare. I was scared. McCarthy at his very best commands some black and frightful reserves. To chose from so many scenes: Judge Holden under a ribcage parasol holding the halfwit by a leash, the two shuffling though the sun-bleached desert Golgotha bellowing threats and promises to Kid and Expriest who are hidden, cowering, “prone in the lees of those sour bones like sated scavengers” awaiting “the arrival of the judge and th ...more
Oct 16, 2016 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cormac McCarthy's west of absolutes is a wonder to behold. Villainous attacks on people devoid a home, desecration of the west-land, listings of all things in the majestic, transitory landscape like observations by Darwin at the Galapagos in lush (sometimes horrific) detail, murky human psyches, no dialogue, and especially that campfire philosophy by which anyone can find some sort of meaning in their modern lives (especially if you are fortunate enough to inhabit the places which Mr. McCarthy d ...more
Jan 10, 2013 Bart rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of westerns
In Cormac McCarthy's novel The Crossing, McCarthy proves he can write about about the travels of a wolf in a poetic and engaging way. In Blood Meridian McCarthy writes about three or four wolves, calls them humans - those characters he bothers to name at all - and shows that with enough talent and powerful prose, a writer and his work can be called "great" without having to develop a single character in 330 pages.

Among those who would be unsatisfied with the mere word "great" and have to go furt
Frank Maccormack
Jun 08, 2008 Frank Maccormack rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book has moments of fleeting brilliance, and the last 50 pages of the book are almost flawless. However, there are 280 pages before that you have to read, which consist of, in my opinion, nothing more than barren landscapes, borderline shock-value accounts of depravity, and self-indulgent simile. It's a never-ending journey on the shoulders of quite possibly the most unlikable group of characters I've ever read, which in the hands of a particular writer, may work...McCarthy does NOT pull it ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
What a show-off. I swear, if you were to hand this book to an aspiring artist experiencing a depression-inducing creative block, you may just find yourself with a d.b. on your hands thanks to thoughts like "So wait, this was written by a human being and not an alien?" and "Fuck me!" and "Oh fuck it, I give up." While you'll hear no argument from me that The Road isn't a masterpiece, it is my firm conviction that this'n is even more masterpiece-ier, though far, far darker than The Road is even wi ...more
Nov 07, 2009 Szplug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems that almost everybody raves about Blood Meridian and rates it the best novel written by Cormac McCarthy. I had already read three of his books prior to taking on Meridian; I was a fan, and regarded the book with a mixture of excitement and trepidation: excitement, because I had heard so many superlatives about it from other reviews - trepidation, for the exact same reason. It was with such conflicting expectations that I began; from word one the prose wasn't holding me for some reason, ...more
Jun 11, 2007 Tedb0t rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who love true literature
Blood Meridian is an astonishing work. It was recommended to me by the same person who got me into Moby Dick, and now I believe I understand why.

There are two major aspects I'd like to touch on with this book:

1) Prose. McCarthy is one of those rare literary magicians who, like Melville, is capable of sustained and continuous flows of poetry, often jaw-dropping in their scale and scope. Blood Meridian tends to oscillate from narrative action to descriptive passage. The narrative scenes tend towar
Nov 30, 2013 Agnieszka rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, 2011, reviewed
Those who travel desert places do indeed meet with creatures surpassing all description.
They’re riding through the mountains,deserts,muddy and dusty pueblos,leaving behind them piles of mutilated and scalped bodies, massacred people and animals as well.They’re killing all who they encounter on their road,no matter,Indians,soldiers,villagers which they were to defend.They leave no witness of their crime and iniquity.Only blood and death behind them ,and more blood.They ride like Bible Apocalypse
I'll be frank right up front: I loved this book. It's a poetic, metaphor-and-symbolism-rich wonder of a novel, and every bit as violent as its reputation states. McCarthy has such a seemingly effortless ability to render forth horrific and beautiful descriptions of everything from sunrises to Indian attacks that it's enough to make one weep with envy.

McCarthy certainly gives the lie to the nostalgic romanticizing of the Old West enshrined in American culture; these cowboys 'n Indians aren't fil
Aug 22, 2007 Aaron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't get people's love affair with this book. It's like if Kill Bill, Vol. 1 was consistently trumpeted as the greatest movie of all time. They both are cartoonish exercises in violence. They both are a pastiches of high and low art. They both have one stunning scene that wins over the critics (the Indian attack in Blood Meridian, the snow duel in Kill Bill) and then feel pretty flat for the remainder. And yet, Blood Meridian has become a darling of critics and now, with McCarthy's Oprah-appr ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Zoeytron rated it really liked it
Cormac McCarthy is on good speaking terms with the dark. Written 30 years ago, Blood Meridian is filled with gorgeous prose, 'a vicious snarl of flies', 'a vomit of gore', 'profound and absolute darkness'. You can see it, almost smell it as you are reading. It is also full and to bursting with indiscriminate killing, butchery, and base cruelty. Know what you are getting into before cracking this one open.

It is the mid 1850's, and the Glanton Gang is riding roughshod over the countryside, giving
Reasons to read Blood Meridian:
» Friends have told me I should –- Goodreads friends, no less. And these are people I like; people who have my back (bibliophilisticly speaking).

» The prose is like nothing I’ve read before. It’s elaborate, but not fussy. No flourish need apply. And I swear he just makes words up if the standard ones in English seem too refined. The effect is just right for a seared earth adventure. It grew on me.

» See if you can tell from the pattern of my recent reads what I was
Nick Black
Sep 19, 2013 Nick Black rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2013-09-20 -- moved from "likely-reread" shelf to "read-multiple-times". this is one of the greatest works of american literature and if you haven't read it, and we're friends, i'm going to harass you until you do, as otherwise our conversation would be missing essential elements.

i even managed to use it as an epigraph in a computer science book i'm writing: (chapter 4)

the last thing i read in 2009, and the best fiction i'd read since Infinite
Dec 04, 2013 Maciek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Western Fans; those who favor the language over that what it says
Blood Meridian is a novel that deromanticizes the West and strips off its John Wayne antics - here there's absolutely no place for the moral and the good, where murder is a fact of life comitted without a blink and discarded from thought later. The desert rewards the worst scoundrels and spits on the bodies of the innocent and old who are unable to defend themselves.

The novel begins with an introduction of a young teenager who's simply named "The Kid", though in fact there's no universal protago
Mar 03, 2016 Hanneke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Yes, here it is! The great American Western novel. The true Cowboys and Indians Story. These hellish journeys through the purgatory that was Texas and Northern Mexico around 1850 read like a nightmare odyssee. Told in a breathless and very poetic voice, we get introduced to truly merciless killers, a charismatic judge whose appearance is hard to grasp, and the kid who never knew a friendly face in his life. The judge is an almost mythological figure, an amoral Olympic god, ruling over life and d ...more
In David Foster Wallace's posthumous essay collection Both Flesh and Not there's a little piece called "Five Direly Underappreciated US Novels > 1960," and Wallace goes off on paragraph-long defenses of some books he likes - "Bleak but gorgeous," he says of Omensetter's Luck, "like light through ice." But when he gets to Blood Meridian there's just this one line under it:

"Dont even ask."

Unfortunately everyone did anyway and this book, where you can identify the good guys as the ones who haven
Nov 20, 2011 Lawyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the unsqueamish
Recommended to Lawyer by: Time 100 best novels since 1923
"Blood Meridian" is hellish nightmare of successive acts of violence. Based on the story of the Glanton Gang operating on boundary between Texas and Mexico in 1849-1850, McCarthy's novel focuses on an unnamed protagonist known only as "The Kid." The Kid is fourteen, a runaway from the hills of Tennessee. He finds himself among a group of Filibusterers bent on finishing what the Mexican War began. The band is attacked by Comanches. The Kid is among the few survivors. However, he survives only to ...more
Oct 09, 2016 le_fino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Breathless. Unique. Brutal. There are many words that could be used to describe Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. For me, this was my second time through and I liked it far better than my first reading. Judge Holden, John Job Glanton, Toadvine, and the "kid" are all fantastic characters. I shudder to think that the horrors visited upon the Indians and Mexicans and homesteaders were all based on fact. The apocalypse described in The Road is not too far a cry from the hellish country on the US-Me ...more
After finishing McCarthy's No Country For Old Men and The Road, I felt like I was stunned for a day or so afterward. Add Blood Meridian to that list. At first, I thought this was going to be a Lonesome Dove-style western, but it's something far different. The descent into butchery by the Glanton gang in the desert is one of the most disturbing things I've read. And the Judge is now on my top 10 all-time fictional villian list.
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Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels in the Southern Gothic, western, and post-apocalyptic genres and has also written plays and screenplays. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for The Road, and his 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted as a 2007 film of the same name, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

His earlier Blood M
More about Cormac McCarthy...

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“Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.” 456 likes
“The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.

The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man's mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.”
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