My favorite of McCarthy's books, I have yet to read 'The Crossing'.
The epilogue is unfortunate. It's like something Borges would write - on a day he dMy favorite of McCarthy's books, I have yet to read 'The Crossing'.
The epilogue is unfortunate. It's like something Borges would write - on a day he drank too many cups of yerba mate and was feeling impatient and confused. At least the pimp in this book has a philosophy that is well-organized and articulated. But Billy ending up under an interstate bridge in Arizona felt right, as well as sad.
The rest is fantastic, if you love old codgers telling violent, hilarious tales. The jackrabbits story resonated strongly with me, driving in southern New Mexico in the middle of the night still summons a great many sacrificial jackrabbits, but you will take greater care not to hit them if you are not driving a Buick like the characters herein (some of the jacks are seemingly as large as great danes). Of course, what makes the jackrabbit scene funny is not their demise, but as bizarre impetus for a gas station fight.
John Grady can be annoying as this Lancelot/Dalton character, but he is tempered with the pragmatic jibes of Billy in this volume.
Yes, the girl the boy falls in love with is once again doomed, a permanent victim, one of only three female characters in the book, lacks personality, but at least she's not described "the very witch of fuck", and her backstory is a little complicated (progress for a female in a McCarthy story). But the characters in this book are more fascinated by horses than women, and it is actually interesting. ...more
This is Hemingway publicly mocking his friend and mentor, Sherwood Anderson. It is a harsh thing to insult the person to which you owe your first publThis is Hemingway publicly mocking his friend and mentor, Sherwood Anderson. It is a harsh thing to insult the person to which you owe your first publishing deal, as well as much of your writing style, but if you have read much of the biographical material on Hemingway, you will know that he was a hugely selfish and egotistical person. The manuscript was later used to break from his publisher (the same as Anderson's) for a better deal from Scribner's.
But it is funny. Funny mostly due to it's absurd quality, not because it is a good critique of Anderson.
This is one of his very few books set in America. He was not very inspired by the place, not often at least, which is a shame, because the Nick Adams tales are the best writing I have read of his. But here we have a more farcical view of Indians than those found in the Nick Adams tales. He clearly saw the Indians as crude, dangerous, idiots - or if they were girls: convenient fuck objects. Well, his characters are usually great charmers of the girls anyway, civilized and savage. Hemingway views the ideas of Anderson as trite and poorly formed. But to my mind, Anderson was simply a man who believed in simplicity, and much of his writing was a striving against the industrial revolution, a brave attempt to notice anything beautiful in the common. Anderson might've overdone it at times, but Hemingway went on to write 'The Old Man And The Sea', a book I admire, but anyone could parody and insult that straightforward story in the same form Hemingway uses to insult his early champion.
Anyway, the book is a little funny, but I notice Hemingway is funniest when he is insulting things, as many authors are I guess. Maybe there was something that happened between them that we will never know about....more
All the scenery and food described in this book sounds lovely and I would've enjoyed seeing and tasting it all.
The most intriguing romance is betweenAll the scenery and food described in this book sounds lovely and I would've enjoyed seeing and tasting it all.
The most intriguing romance is between the Tenente and the forlorn priest. Along with the Tenente's bawdy roommate, the surgeon Rinaldi, and the antagonism he enjoys with the priest and the Tenente are filled with the give-and-take of respect and honor and philosophy and cruelty and humor that make a relationship between two characters fine to read about. The romance with young Catherine made me gag, it was very romantic indeed, the idea of it all occuring within pain and war and under scenic mountains, but it is not the sort of romance I like to read - the tone of it I guess. Maybe this is because I did not know the women of that era, especially when they were in love.
The back of the book is right to cite the description of the retreat from Caporetto as the book's most memorable writing. This portion is very frightening, it makes you fear ever being amidst such widespread confusion....more
I seem to pick this up when the seasons change. It is not really a book about hunting, it is about wandering and noticing things. Since Turgenev noticI seem to pick this up when the seasons change. It is not really a book about hunting, it is about wandering and noticing things. Since Turgenev noticed so much, this notebook is dense, but in a good way, like a thick forest.
The most exceptional sketch concerns peasant boys guarding horses outside in the dark. He listens to them talk while pretending to sleep. The boys talk about dead friends, ghosts, their fears. What he achieves is a perfect evocation of amateur confessions in the open air, it's the sensation that to speak of it draws it close and makes it real, because there are no barriers.
It is a documentary of a time, of peasants, and especially animals and plants and seasons in Russia. Sherwood Anderson considered it his favorite and that is why I bought it, I love it when good authors recommend books in their letters and so forth....more
This is one of the few books that benefits from having the internet nearby as a distraction. I kept stopping to look up the different personalities inThis is one of the few books that benefits from having the internet nearby as a distraction. I kept stopping to look up the different personalities involved, photos of documents, images of the locations, and footage of the events that inspired this novel.
I doubt there is any single book on the Kennedy assassination that is better than this one, fiction or non-fiction. Each and every page is just so exciting. I'm certainly going to read more DeLillo....more
For those of you who love thoughtful, intelligent, erudite, humble priest narratives filled with obscure civil war and midwest history - Reverend BougFor those of you who love thoughtful, intelligent, erudite, humble priest narratives filled with obscure civil war and midwest history - Reverend Boughton is your man!
It's definitely one of those hopeful books that does not seem false. It is a realistic book filled with pain, but an optimistic one. One of those inspiring pleas for the human race that wins over even such a pessimist as I, because it is inspiring that someone can look at people and create this sort of hope and love for them. I keep making it sound sentimental, because it is, but it is well-written! It's good!...more
If you are a fan of 'Blood Meridian' this is a must-read. It's basically the recipe for McCarthy's book, characters and events separated and traced baIf you are a fan of 'Blood Meridian' this is a must-read. It's basically the recipe for McCarthy's book, characters and events separated and traced back through books and history.
It's one of those wonderful books that dramatically increases your reading list.
For example, one of the main inspirations for 'Blood Meridian' seems to be a confession written by one Samuel Chamberlain, who rode with Glanton's gang and survived the Yuma ferry massacre, a source which is the only historical reference to the terrifying Judge Holden. What Chamberlain has to say about Holden is eery. At one point Chamberlain scoffs at Holden's queer ideas about time and geology, composed of millions of years and a departure from the rest of the gang's 19th century notions of time. Chamberlain describes him as a renaissance man, as able with languages and music and as violent and perverse as McCarthy's character. Holden later steals Chamberlain's horse and threatens that they will all hang before disappearing into history.
Even the meteorite anvil that the Judge lifts over his head is a real artifact present in Arizona in two travel narratives noted here.
These are just a few examples, every important aspect of the book is referenced with past documents.
You also get listings and translations of all the non-English portions of the novel, with annotations on obscure words.
As well as mapping of the character's travels.
And themed concordances.
A whole essay on the Judge's recipe for gunpowder!
The author's postulating on McCarthy's use of Tarot symbolism might overreach, but his points are well-researched if not completely convincing.
I enjoyed reading this book more than 'Blood Meridian', but it has convinced me to reread the novel, since it does such a wonderful job of putting McCarthy's book in historical perspective, and demonstrating the patience and care he took in writing it....more
Struggling, frightened, dangerous criminals and detectives.
The most impressive thing about this book is that it is mostly dialogue, and the dialogue cStruggling, frightened, dangerous criminals and detectives.
The most impressive thing about this book is that it is mostly dialogue, and the dialogue creates the setting and characters. It would work wonderfully as a play.
It is definitely the best crime book I've ever read, because not only is it suspenseful and completely believable, it is very funny - if you find the sleazy, sometimes surprising observations of criminals funny....more
This is a set of modern folktales. A lot of the tales are sort of frightening. Proulx has a bitter, tasty, dark humor. Most of the characters are loneThis is a set of modern folktales. A lot of the tales are sort of frightening. Proulx has a bitter, tasty, dark humor. Most of the characters are lonely and miserable.
Proulx is a writer like McCarthy who manages to fit in a great deal of mechanical detail that somehow makes the story more gripping and immediate, instead of causing it to lag. The difference between Proulx and McCarthy (as fierce, modern writers of westerns) is that McCarthy can write convincingly about the punishing violence of the west, but he wants to remain romantic and charming about it, while Proulx is not interested in being romantic - she cuts right through the bullshit.
Finally, do not let the famous movie based on one of the stories in this book keep you from reading. The corny soap opera released in theaters as 'Brokeback Mountain' is nothing like the story in this book. For one thing, it doesn't have Heath Ledger doing a strange, mumbling impersonation of Yosemite Sam, or Anne Hathaway in garish old person prosthetics, or the tear-jerking machinations of a glorified Lifetime movie. Like I said, Proulx is not sentimental, the 'Brokeback Mountain' in this book is very sad and real. Surprisingly, it is the most realistic (in the 'realism' sense) story in the collection, a lot of the other tales have innovative surrealist and even magical elements. Basically, every story in this book is good and they all end good too....more
I have to admire Katherine Ann Porter. So many of her loves died and rejected her, ran away, and deceived her. Somehow she ended up writing truthfullyI have to admire Katherine Ann Porter. So many of her loves died and rejected her, ran away, and deceived her. Somehow she ended up writing truthfully about it. At least I believe her. Her stories do not seem like acts of judgment, since the lovers' sins are not forgiven or changed. Yes, I believe her, because her final relief was to understand it all in a story. What relief? It is only the comfort and joy between reader and author. If I could step back somewhere and propose to Katherine and win her heart we would certainly repeat some of these ugly acts. No solution for love in the stories of Katherine Ann Porter, just the comfort and joy between author and reader.
"He wondered if anybody had ever thought - oh, well, of course everybody else had, he was always making marvelous discoveries that other people had known all along - how impossible it is to explain or to make other eyes see the special qualities in the person you love. There was such a special kind of beauty in Miriam. In certain lights and moods he simply got a clutch in the pit of his stomach when he looked at her. It was something that could happen at any hour of the day, in the midst of the most ordinary occupations. He thought there was something to be said for living with one person day and night the year round. It brings out the worst, but it brings out the best, too, and Miriam's best was pretty damn swell. He couldn't describe it. It was easy to talk about her faults. He remembered all of them, he could add them up against her like rows of figures in a vast unpaid debt. He had lived with her for four years, and even now sometimes he woke out of a sound sleep in a sweating rage with himself, asking himself again why he had ever wasted a minute on her." -That Tree
"Oh, what is life, she asked herself in desperatete seriousness, in those childish unanswerable words, and what shall I do with it? It is something of my own, she thought in a fury of jealous possessiveness, what shall I make of it? She did not know that she asked herself this because all her earliest training had argued that life was a substance, a material to be used, it took shape and direction and meaning only as the possessor guided and worked it; living was a progress of continuous and varied acts of the will directed towards a definite end. She had been assured that there were good and evil ends, one must make a choice. But what was good, and what was evil? I hate love, she thought, as if this were the answer, I hate love and being loved, I hate it. And her disturbed and seething mind received a shock of comfort from this sudden collaps of an old painful structure of distorted images and misconceptions." -Noon Wine
Not all of Porter is bombastic revelations on the nature of love. Some of these passages struck me because they came after walking close with some character, knowing them closer than a sister or a brother, and then hearing them decide on something that they had never thought to decide before - it is a joy and comfort.
I first heard of Katherine because she was an astonishing and lucky survivor of the 1918 influenza epidemic. She lived, and when her hair grew back it was all white. The young man that briefly took care of her when she was first struck with the sickness was not alive when she came out of it. Writing about it in 'Pale Horse, Pale Rider' and 'Holiday' is a stunning response to such agony, it doesn't matter if it took decades. I stand up and cheer her.
Here is this:
"He was wearing a new hat of a pretty biscuit shade, for it never occurred to him to buy anything of a practical color; he had put it on for the first time and the rain was spoiling it. She kept thinking, 'But this is dreadful, where will he get another?' She compared it with Eddie's hats that always seemed to be precisely seven years old and as if they had been quite purposely left out in the rain, and yet they sat with a careless and incidental rightness on Eddie. But Camilo was far different; if he wore a shabby hat it would be merely shabby on him, and he would lose his spirits over it. If she had not feared Camilo would take it badly, for he insisted on the little ceremonies up to the point he had fixed for them, she would have said to them as they left Thora's house, 'Do go home. I can surely reach the station by myself.' 'It is written that we must be rained upon tonight,' said Camilo, 'so let it be together.'" -Theft
Wonderful. I'm so glad to have finally met her, born only ten miles away in the town of Kyle, Texas....more
I keep buying used books originating from the shelves of someone, someone who writes grammatical corrections in BLUE INK, even when it is OBVIOUS theI keep buying used books originating from the shelves of someone, someone who writes grammatical corrections in BLUE INK, even when it is OBVIOUS the novel is written in a certain idiom, in this case that of a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD IN WEST TEXAS. And even moral indictments written beside circled portions of text? What compels people to do such things? Do they achieve some satisfaction from pointing to the words of a widely published book, and saying "WRONG" "SINFUL" "EVIL"? What a miserable, contrary person, I'd like to meet them, we'd make an interesting pair....more