My goodreads review mysteriously disappeared, but i found another one:
Sometimes a novel traffics such beauty it feels foolhardy to assign descriptors,My goodreads review mysteriously disappeared, but i found another one:
Sometimes a novel traffics such beauty it feels foolhardy to assign descriptors, analogies, adjectives. It becomes a visceral thing. Sure it evokes a myriad of emotions beneath, but what you’ll also notice is tight and lumpy and hard throats. Red welled eyes. Quickened breath. A disregard to your environment. Time stops or time flies but you can’t discern the difference. Patrick Thomas Casey’s debut Our Burden’s Light is such a novel. The writing is brave and formidable. It is lyrical and poignant. It should go without saying that a debut should not be this good. It is deep insult to aspiring writers and it sets the bar way too high for Casey’s follow up. How often can you say that a book of such magnitude actually does a disservice to the writer?
Our Burden’s Light slowly and mysteriously unfolds the human condition like only a seasoned poet can. The central narrative is the story of two families wracked by tragedy. It’s a classic tale of love and loss and death and redemption and healing but there is nothing contrived in Casey’s writing. His voice is wholly his own and engages the reader from the first word. Its cadence and austerity lulls the reader into the rhythm and lives of these characters. Short vignettes intersperse the main story. They are superbly crafted and offer depth to the setting, the Shenandoah Valley. These vignettes, these different lives and characters from the main story, help paint a rich picture of life in rural Virginia. They are the stories of others dealing with loss, with tragedy. Those that have fled the valley but haven’t, no matter how hard they try, really left. Those that wish to leave but are bound.
It’s a Southern book in the most grounded way possible. Men grab ice out of salad bowls to refill their whiskey glasses. Fathers and sons ruminate on life’s mysteries in rooms incensed with deep leather furniture and bluish cigarette smoke. The whiskey tastes of smoke and deep oak and isn’t drunk for the ‘fast escape but for the slow warmth that it always promised.’ Casey has created something truly magical here. A thing of singular beauty. Read this now and become changed. ...more
I love reading the gothic, particularly the southern variety. And when I first began reading novels written in this tradition, many of them didn't seeI love reading the gothic, particularly the southern variety. And when I first began reading novels written in this tradition, many of them didn't seem to have many dimensions. The characters and narrative lean a little too hard on Flannery Oconnor, Faulkner's darker works, Mccarthy's Appalachian novels, or Carson Mccullers small town loneliness. Some have stood out. If you haven't read Breece D'J Pancake you should run to your nearest amazon.com and order a collection of his works. Its breathtaking. I mention Pancake because there are moments in Devil that remind me of his short story Trilobites. Capturing the yellow film of tobacco smoke and stale coffee ambiance of small town cafes, patrons nursing hangovers and leering at young, disheveled waitresses. It's a simple enough image and mostly used to establish setting, local color, usually not integral to the central narrative. But when written effectively, these types of nuances skilfully project a mood, here casting a sickly pallor on characters and place. By and large, Pancake is far too sentimental to be compared to Pollock. Most 'hillbilly noir' makes you squirm a bit, makes you feel grimy, but has dead aim on the heart while doing so. This book is almost all darkness. There are scenes that could be cut from Daniel Woodrell's oeuvre, if Oliver Stone hijacked the scene for a rendition of Natural Born Killers. One needs to really read between the lines, to squint really hard to find any redemption....more
There should be a blog ala 'what white people like' called 'Jonathan Franzen probably hates you'. If you are a cat lover, drive a hybrid (or a prius),There should be a blog ala 'what white people like' called 'Jonathan Franzen probably hates you'. If you are a cat lover, drive a hybrid (or a prius), shop at Whole Foods, watch Oprah, listen to NPR, are a college republican, or are involved in the democratic party he probably hates you. Ok, hate might be a strong word. He probably holds a smug disdain for you. I just picture him on a puke green upholstered chair, duct tape all over it, banging away on some old Corona typewriter, muttering about the poor plebs and their computers, and internets, apple phones, and facebooks. He's probably a grump, but probably happy and content in this state. It's familiar, and I'm sure we can all relate to a particular kind of comforting sadness, the kind that reminds you you are human and is a consoling rememberance of happier times.
That long winded caveat aside, Freedom is a fucking wonderful book. It's superbly crafted and supremely fluid. I found The Corrections plodding and a bit over written in some sections but Freedom doesn't suffer in the least from those blemishes. The only taxing part of reading Freedom is just how emotionally draining it can become. And this is one of the highest compliments I can give about a book. The characters are so rich and developed that I, the reader, became REALLY involved with them. I would curse Patty and pity Walter, Franzen induces a myriad of emotions in a small space. The ups and downs are hallmarks of brilliant evocative fiction and Freedom has this in spades. The fact that I am not married with children, yet connected that the ups and downs became devastating to me really speaks volumes about Franzens technique and skill. Like him or not, and i can almost assure you he doesn't like you, Franzen can fucking craf a novel. ...more
This is the good stuff. The deep stuff. No disaffected twenty- somethings, or vampires, or scandinavian girls who who do stuff with fire or bees' nestThis is the good stuff. The deep stuff. No disaffected twenty- somethings, or vampires, or scandinavian girls who who do stuff with fire or bees' nests and have stuff painted on them (though, i must say, that girl has me prety intrigued). Nope, this is literary fiction. Weighty. Meaty. Big in scope, ambition, and--to the credit of Murkoff--execution. Another example, like Casey's Our Burden's Light of a debut that just shouldnt be this good. This should come after a couple of books written clumsily, the author trying to find his voice; this should be hard earned from experience. Sure, the accusations are going to be there that its a bit overwritten, that Murkoff relishes in his own evocative prose and lyricism. That the meat of the story is delayed while characters are too slowly assembled. But I found the story to unfold naturally, allowing the reader to get a firm grasp on the background and plight of the three disparate characters before they converge. And once they converge, coming together to work on and see the Boulder Dam erected, Murkoff develops them still, the character driven narrative never suffers from stasis. Like the river used as a central metaphor, Murkoff's writing is effusive, generously pouring details and scenery, the prose twisting with nary a miscue...I'd recommend this for fans of Depression-era fiction, Steinbeck, or fans of simply well executed, evocative prose.
The way I see it the Border Trilogy is made up of two different types of narratives: it's bookended by a 'western romance' type tale. Pretty Horses foThe way I see it the Border Trilogy is made up of two different types of narratives: it's bookended by a 'western romance' type tale. Pretty Horses follows John Grady Cole as he leaves his ranch to wander the mexican campo looking for work. When he finds work, he also finds himself involved in a doomed trist with the ranchers daughter. This is the softer side of McCarthy.
The Crossing, (spoiler ahead) on the other hand, is filled with the lonesome, 'laconic man in the saddle' imagery. The sun setting to his back, bedding down and watering his horse where he decides at that moment. This is very much the protagonist as folk-hero (which was even a subplot in the Crossing), not altogether dissimilar to The Kid in Blood Meridian. Skin like leather, an immoveable figure from the landscape. It begins with Billy Parham leading a wild, yet collared wolf across the border and ends with Billy dragging, behind his horse, the bones of his dead brother.
Cities on the Plain is very much like ...Horses. John Grady returns, and guess what...he falls in love with a mexican prostitute. (If thats not doomed from the beginning...).
Anyway, my point is that I am more fond of the Crossing type narrative. Seems so much more powerful, although I can appreciate the romance aspects may resonate better with most readers. Not me, however....more
Absolutely stunning. Heartbreaking. Tragic. Gorgeous. Only Blood Meridian is more powerful. Found myself weeping after certain passages. McCarthy neveAbsolutely stunning. Heartbreaking. Tragic. Gorgeous. Only Blood Meridian is more powerful. Found myself weeping after certain passages. McCarthy never fails....
Recommended Soundtrack: Nadja (Storm of Light split 12") Harvestman Townes Van Zant...more
Underworld is nothing short of a masterpiece. I could traipse on about the existential fear of the Cold War captured and dissected and then molded intUnderworld is nothing short of a masterpiece. I could traipse on about the existential fear of the Cold War captured and dissected and then molded into something astonishing. Or how the plot is like an intricate choreographed dance with different movements and variations on themes; or like a river bending and weaving, picking up plotpieces like detritus. There are hundreds of reviews much more erudite, much more lavish, the justice and deft the book deserves.
What I will say is this: When I read this I made a bookmark so I could write down impactful lines, stirring passages, ideas and themes to consider and return to. My bookmark became two and three. And now the book is over I am compelled to stow away my bookmark in a closeted shoebox shrine filled with other waste pieces from my youth..a yellowed love letter, a lighter whose meaning faded with its color, a postcard with a smudged powdery lipstick stain...or perhaps in a glass case to put on the mantle, no doubt a strange bric-a-brack'ed curioso for visitors...this is a book I want to carry with me for a long long while. ...more
Here you will find some of the funniest backwoods caricatures only to be followed by the most haunting and disturbing of passages. For Blood MeridianHere you will find some of the funniest backwoods caricatures only to be followed by the most haunting and disturbing of passages. For Blood Meridian fans you will find McCarthy honing and practicing with the most wretched of antagonists. The Judge. With the character in this book, he is still informed by an unprecedented evil, not unlike an apocalyptic vision. I gasped allowed.
Recommended Soundtrack: David Tibet/Current 93, Death in June or similar apocalytpic folk music. Wolves in the Throne Room's meditations on Nature songs Conifer Earth's latter penchant for twang ...more
Mr. McCarthy, sir, you are taking over my life. Even the music I'm listening to...I can't get enough of that slide guitar twang. I've fallen for thoseMr. McCarthy, sir, you are taking over my life. Even the music I'm listening to...I can't get enough of that slide guitar twang. I've fallen for those outlaw country bands (even the new guys like Tim Barry or Ben Nichols). And once again, sir, you did not let me down with your first novel the Orchard Keeper.
Sure, it was a little confusing with the shifting narration, denoted with italics, that sometimes takes place in the middle of a conversation. I sometimes wasn't quite sure whom nor when these parts referred to. This wasn't the minimalist wide open spaces you found in No Country and The Road. No, this your most descriptive. Alotting pages and pages to describe the Appalachian hills, the humus, moss, rotted wood, decaying matter under the feet of your characters. And it was beautiful. Sure, not alot happened. You eschewed a fast moving plot for setting, for characters. The lifestyle of these characters took center stage. And I loved it.
Recommended Soundtrack: Tim Barry's more haunting, sorrowful tracks. Waylon Jennings-Lonesome, On'ry, and Mean Earth-Hibernaculum (Hell, even the cover art to this album could easily be the cover art for the Orchard Keeper) Any old southern twang about runnin' whiskey....more
Thank you, Mr. McCarthy. You've out done yourself once again. You've constructed a book about a social outcast that precedes and has much more resonanThank you, Mr. McCarthy. You've out done yourself once again. You've constructed a book about a social outcast that precedes and has much more resonance than what the best of Bret Easton Ellis, Palahniuk (and other like contemporary authors) can offer. Your urban squalor transcends time. Suttree, our hero, is the hero of the everyman and any given time. Forsaking a life of privilage, our hero continually finds himself on the receiving end of heartbreak, of terrible luck. He is surrounded the beragged and the impoverished. The perverse and the addicted. The stinking drunk and the workhouse rat. Yet Suttree rises above all of them. This book is a delight. A gift to the common reader. This book is phenomenal and now I can easily say that you, Mr. McCarthy, are currently my all-time favorite author. ...more
I remember my dad reading The Hobbit to me when I was a child. I loved it! Then I read the trilogy for the first time in 7th grade. I revisit it everyI remember my dad reading The Hobbit to me when I was a child. I loved it! Then I read the trilogy for the first time in 7th grade. I revisit it every couple years or so. I ran into my first and only problem with it the other night: Both Star Wars-Return of the Jedi and The Fellowship of the Ring were on TV at the same time. I felt like my world was crashing, detaching at the seams when I had to choose between the two...I never want to experience that existential meltdown again, nor would wish it upon anyone....more
This is my favorite book right now. If you are unfortunate enough to a)work with me or b)been the unlucky soul to bring up/ask me about books then youThis is my favorite book right now. If you are unfortunate enough to a)work with me or b)been the unlucky soul to bring up/ask me about books then you know I can't NOT mention this while closing my eyes, shaking my head, and murmuring 'it was so friggin badass'.
Read this book while listening to: -Ennio Morricone -Earth's 'The Bees Made Honey...' -Earth's 'Hex; or printing on the infernal method....more
A revelatory and remarkable novel! The matryoshka analogy is apt; the novel consists of several stories all taking place in different times, differentA revelatory and remarkable novel! The matryoshka analogy is apt; the novel consists of several stories all taking place in different times, different climes, and different characters. But, each story contains a kernal of the others, which creates not a cohesive tale, but rather universal metaphors with such resonance it transcends and redefines the idea of a 'story'. Amazing. ...more
Is there another author that embodies such a rich humanity? I loved this book, swooned over it. Marquez tells the story of a lifetime of unrequited loIs there another author that embodies such a rich humanity? I loved this book, swooned over it. Marquez tells the story of a lifetime of unrequited love, how lovesickness can plague (much like cholera) the human existence much as a physical malady. Narrated with such grace, Florentino professes his love for Fermina while still children and never stops loving her, even into old age. Ostensibly, I suppose the reader must choose whether Florentino's love sickness is that of nobility or simply pathetic. I suppose that is up to the reader, though for me the answer is swift, singular, and without a second thought. ...more