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Child of God

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  13,905 ratings  ·  1,314 reviews
In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard--a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape--haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail.While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance. ...more
Paperback, 197 pages
Published June 29th 1993 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1973)
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American Psycho by Bret Easton EllisLord of the Flies by William GoldingA Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer1984 by George OrwellA Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Most Disturbing Book Ever Written
100th out of 1,431 books — 5,219 voters
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyThe Road by Cormac McCarthyNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthySuttree by Cormac McCarthy
Best Cormac McCarthy Books
6th out of 13 books — 85 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 27, 2013 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
”The dumpkeeper had spawned nine daughters and named them out of an old medical dictionary gleaned from the rubbish he picked. Uretha, Cerebella, Hernia Sue.
They moved like cats and like cats in heat attracted surrounding swains to their midden until the old man used to go out at night and fire a shotgun at random just to clear the air. He couldn’t tell which was the oldest or what age and he didn’t know whether they should go out with boys or not. Like cats they sensed his lack of resolution. T
...more
s.penkevich

Were there darker provinces of night he would have found them.

There is a quote by David Foster Wallace that ‘good fiction's job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.’ Cormac McCarthy’s trim third novel, Child of God, is an optimal example of this sentiment, as it manages to provide the counterparts of the both comfortable and disturbed elements within the reader by offering them an unflinching portrait of baseness and demanding reaction. The short novel chronicles the hellis
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Paul
film-of-the-book update :

None other than James (I'm handsome and I can do anything) Franco directed a version of this last year & I just saw it; and - damn, James, I hate to say this but - it was really good! And faithful! Really great performance by Scott Haze as Lester. You probably shouldn't watch it while you eat your tea nor should you be watching it with any elderly relatives but if you know what the story is about you probably would not do that. Unless you want to kill them off with s
...more
Mike
Child of God: Cormac McCarthy's Outcast

 photo c0dc5dcd-8d60-4ed5-a77d-f908236627d2_zps5ad5f347.jpg
First edition, Random House, New York, New York, 1973

"He moves in the dry chaff among the dust and slats of sunlight with a constrained truculence. Saxon and Celtic bloods. A child of God much like yourself perhaps.


The setting is Sevier County, Tennessee, in the 1960s. Our protagonist is twenty-seven. He is an orphan. His life between the suicide of his father and the loss of his home is an unanswered question. We are dropped into his story in medias res
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matt
Aug 28, 2008 Matt rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone that thinks the public school system is unimportant.
'Child of God' is the third McCarthy book that I have read over the past few weeks. I usually try to stay away from any kind of review or description of a book just prior to reading, but I had recently come across the fact that this was supposed to be McCarthy's darkest work.

Boy, I'll say.

This book will make you feel like you need a long shower afterwards. I believe that this was the same affect that Ellis was going for in 'American Psycho', but I think that McCarthy out-Batemaned him on this on
...more
Lou
There was two main reasons for re-reading this novel in the month of October 2012, one was due to reading William Gay's novel The provinces of night of which the title is taken from the opening sentence of a chapter from this novel. The second reason was Donald Ray Pollock's recommendation to read this in a recent interview I had with him.
I am now more convinced that we have in our midst a great writer. In the first read of this and The Road I payed less attention to the prose and the whole way
...more
Melody
This is one of those books that, when you read it, and really like it, it makes you wonder if you should be worried about yourself.

I mean it’s kind of like finding something brown and wondering if it might be chocolate and tasting it and discovering that it really is something vile and disgusting. But then you should have known better. I mean you found the brown thing on the floor, so there was no way you REALLY could have been expecting chocolate and then, Oh look! There’s another something br
...more
Michael
My review just got completely deleted. I'm starting over, and it will be EVEN BETTER maybe.

There's a creek that winds along behind my parents house in downtown Indianapolis. It's barely more than a trickle, barely enough to get your feet wet when you're wearing shoes with thick soles. It was just wide enough that my ten year old self had to jump to make it across. But it was the wildest, most natural thing I'd known at that age, and I followed that son of a bitch.

I walked down one direction to
...more
Bojan Gacic
While browsing the Internet I stumbled upon a comment : ''Didn't like Child of God, couldn't get comfortable with it''. Rape, murder, necrophilia? Who could be/get comfortable with any of it? One could claim it is only instinctive and usual to flinch at the mere sight of such perversions- even if they remain descriptive in nature.

Thinking even further.......McCarthy.......when were any of you comfortable with his work? In here lays the core of our preference for his distinctive narrative. It is
...more
Dayna
It's not as clear of a narrative, like No Country, it's kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The feeling of dread that builds throughout the book is excruciating - similar to the way I felt about Chigurh.

The writing style is very sparse - the descriptions of nature are poetic, in contrast to the ugliness of some of the action. I don't want to say too much about what happens, but it is truly shocking. The story starts out with the town auctioning off Lester Ballard's property - he
...more
Steve
There are a lot of GR reviewers, who I really respect, rating this one higher. I came to C-O-G after a McCarthy reading blitz, and felt this was definitely one of his lesser novels. It's like he sat down and said "I'm going to write crazy, outrageous shit and see what happens." And with McCarthy that will take you into some strange places. The result is enough to make a fan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre sit down and shut-up. But take a step back and ask yourself: Can he do better? Well, yes he ...more
Cheryl
Oh I just couldn't do it. Now I know my reasoning might annoy a few but this book annoyed me. And that's the reason I love books: To each his own.

I read this as part of the Southern Literary Trail book read and while this is nothing against the group which has some great picks, this is one $9.99 I want back!

So. At first descriptions like "palest starlight" and "bawling dogs" annoyed me a bit not because I don't like the pairings, but because they started to appear everywhere, almost like an ov
...more
Hannah  Messler
I finished this book yesterday morning and then was an absolute emotional wreck for almost the whole rest of the day. I don't know if there's any connection or not (I also didn't eat the day before except a Greek yogurt, a rice pudding, and movie popcorn and also drank a shitload of Earl Grey AND stayed up too late AND saw Let the Right One In [which is exquisite:]), but oh my LORD. This is a book I will never recommend to my Mom, to say the freaken LEAST. Just utterly stunningly backbreakingly ...more
Tfitoby
Lester Ballard is a revolting man. Everywhere he goes bad things happen. But not for any apparent reason. It's almost as if McCarthy just wanted to push buttons and see what he could get away with, so instead of plot, of cause and effect we are presented with a protagonist with no redeemable features on a no holds barred journey of mindless debauchery, southern redneck style. One day there's no whiskey available and the next he's filling that hole in his life with the bodies of dead women. Balla ...more
Steven Gilbert
Child of God is one of my favorite books by McCarthy and a masterpiece of poetry, style, and skill. As a writer, I have thumbed through this book so much looking for a momentary boost of inspiration or help in focusing my mind on the task—and thrill—of writing, that the binding has been split in two. It is a book, as one of the reviews on the back cover of my copy indicates, that seems to "defy the easy aesthetic categories." Spare, dark, and precise with its details, it is a novel I'd recommend ...more
Ken
"We never sold any of his books."—Albert Erskine, Cormac McCarthy's original editor at Random House.

Is it any wonder? Released in 1973, Child of God pulls no punches. Murder, necrophilia, and incest to name a few things. It’s a dirty bloodbath of humans crawling through the muck. McCarthy was not giving readers anyone to relate to. In this day and age when there are way too many novels filled with overtly-relatable characters, almost as if the authors and publishers are too damned skittish about
...more
Benjamin Dancer
description
I talk to a lot of people about Cormac McCarthy. It's a rare person who is familiar with his 1973 novel Child of God. Not exactly easy reading–not on the mind nor on the spirit. The story is about Lester Ballard: a Tennessee pariah, a serial-killing necrophiliac–or put another way, a child of God.

The people who have actually read the book talk about themes of cruelty, isolation and moral degradation. Others talk about survival, as Ballard is on the run. He is quite cunning and willing to endure
...more
Ginny_1807
Un romanzo duro, crudele, pervaso da un'atmosfera di violenza e di degrado. Una storia di solitudine, miseria e disperata follia.
Ma alle scene più atroci e raccapriccianti si alternano passaggi inattesi e stupendi di lirica dolcezza e di struggente commozione.
Lester Ballard è una figura immane nella sua barbarie spaventosa: piccolo, magro e cattivo, non piace a nessuno e tutti lo mantengono a prudente distanza. È cresciuto così e così continua la sua esistenza: defraudato dell’infanzia, di ogn
...more
Aban
Neither a human nor an animal, just kind of a centaur or something like that; this is Lester Ballad, the miserable character of this marvelous novel. From the first line of the text I tried to understand why Mr. McCarthy’s chosen “Child of God” as the title of his work and this was the only, yet the most worthy possession I had when I started to read.

There are always different methods of reading for different writers, styles and themes. I found the method of reading this work very near to the o
...more
Darwin8u
And HE has sent me here?

Look, I've read a lot of Cormac McCarthy and this is not your Mother's McCarthy. I think this novel was the final pupa-state before McCarthy emerged as an absolute dark monster of fiction and heir to Faulkner's title of ambassador to the strange malevolence of America's soul.

It wasn't as absurdly redeeming as 'Suttrre' or as coldly beautiful as 'Blood Meridian', but had the surreal shock and awe of both. His themes of isolation, perversity, depravity and violence make y
...more
Laura
I loved this book. But before you go and add it to your must read list this isn't some cozy, happy, feel good book. However, if you like the feeling of unease, awkwardness, uncomfortable, edgy, strained, restless, troubled, anxious, rattled, twitchy and discombobulated then this is a "must-read". McCarthy has a way of painting a picture so vividly whether you want a vivid picture or not. One can only imagine how he came up with this Lester Ballard character. I'm anxious to see how James Franco h ...more
Amy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jimmie
5 Stars says it for me. McCarthy's development of Ballard forces the reader to disbelieve such atrocity in a human, yet somehow feel compassion for him. About the time one is convinced he is without any feeling, morality, decency, McCarthy shows him crying not for another human but at least for the land and perhaps his own homelessness physically and perhaps at some cellular level psychologically. Perhaps that gives too much credit to the character as the reader seeks to humanize such a characte ...more
Mel
Oct 31, 2013 Mel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of the Macabre and Southern Gothic
Recommended to Mel by: On the Southern Literary Trail
This story was well written and a fast read. I am not sure what the hell to say about it because there is a twist in it that really surprised me (Well, okay it shocked me, which is hard to do.) and I don’t want to ruin it for people by saying too much. Let’s just say the main character, Ballard, is one deeply disturbed individual. I would not want to meet him on a lonely road anytime, but especially not at night.

This book is very graphic, perverse, and very violent but the writing is so beautif
...more
Mary
This book is definitely dark and disturbing...it will propel you right into the hazy netherworld of incest, murder and necrophilia. But at the same time the writing is so beautiful, compelling and brilliant that you can't turn away and stick with it right until the bitter end. This is what writing is all about.

Jennifer
Cormac McCarthy has such a talent for writing time periods, sociology/culture, geographical areas, and characters that are so palpable, it's as if you were living inside the pages. Child of God is an example of this, it's excellent...it was just hard to read at times. The story itself is uncomfortable and disturbing. Although I love Cormac McCarthy, the true reason I decided to read this now includes my interest in the film adaptation scheduled to hit theaters next month (August 2014). I mean ho ...more
Diletta
Lester Ballard non è proprio la personcina che più vorreste come vicino di casa.
No, non è proprio un simpatico omino. E non solo perché bestemmia e parla da solo, che già di per sé non è proprio carino, ma se siete in un'auto a farvi gli affaracci vostri con il vostro ragazzo lui vi sparerà alla nuca e violenterà il vostro cadavere ancora caldo, e questo forse è ancor meno carino.
Vi comprerà degli amabili vestiti rossi, vi nasconderà in una caverna e se tutto va bene andrà anche in giro con ind
...more
Red King
So I read your reply on YouTube on that Oprah video.

HI!!! cool u like Cormie too?

Absoultey not.

oh y not? :(

Why do you is a better question. I don't see how being a "souther writer" makes his books any good.

oh i also like his movies!

That was your first mistake.

hey! cmon dont be a dick!

Why not? I have one.

lol!

But seriously that's very dumb.

NO IT ISNT DONT BE A JERKOFF

This is just something you'll have to learn to accept in time I guess.

whatev..you have a weird name lol

Are you trying
...more
Robert
Going into this book, I certainly didn't expect a light-hearted romp. Having previously read "The Road" and viewed the film adaption of "No Country for Old Men," I knew the kind of themes McCarthy liked to ponder over. But I also knew nothing about the particulars of this book before I opened it up. I have to admit that the degree of its bleakness came as a bit of a shock.*

All of the action takes place in Sevier County, Tennessee, a place I've traveled through many times. I even ever-so-briefly
...more
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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
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The Road No Country for Old Men Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1) The Crossing (The Border Trilogy, #2)

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“At one time in the world there were woods that no one owned” 66 likes
“Each leaf that brushed his face deepened his sadness and dread. Each leaf he passed he'd never pass again. They rode over his face like veils, already some yellow, their veins like slender bones where the sun shone through them. He had resolved himself to ride on for he could not turn back and the world that day was as lovely as any day that ever was and he was riding to his death.” 17 likes
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