Chrissy's Reviews > Child of God

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
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's review
Aug 31, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: southern-gothic
Read on April 22, 2012

NOTE: There is a slight spoiler in the last paragraph of this review. Nothing too serious, but still. Fair warning.

I'm quickly running out of Cormac McCarthy books to read, and this fact makes me very very sad. Every sentence he writes is the incarnation of thoughts and feelings every human to ever walk the earth has had but never had the insight or grace to put to words so well. I want to crawl into his mind and live there.

In its brevity and starkness, Child of God really stood out for me. And yes, I read it in one sitting.

To me, this novel was a solemn hymn to the undeniable horrors of humankind, that alarmingly thin line between your regular neighbour next door and the capacity for violence and ruthlessness beyond comprehension. It was, moreover, the most beautiful reminder ever given that so much misery goes unpunished, that justice is as evasive and uncertain as biblical revenge; neither really solves the initial spark of immorality, but only pretends to in some strange socially accepted silence. There is simply bad in the world and little to be done about it. The bad doesn't reside in a person, so that destroying the person who does the bad will eliminate it. It just is, eternally. My melancholy heart sings to this idea.

I particularly loved the way McCarthy switched between the protagonist's point of view and the retrospective commentary of random townspeople who had known him or had heard stories about him-- it suffused the lead character with this urban-mythic quality as you watched his story slowly unfold, and offered the sort of dark foreboding that McCarthy is so notable for.

There is, as so many critics have noted, such a weighty biblical quality to his work, and a dark humor attached to it as a result. It's the sort of humor you almost don't want to laugh at, as if acknowledging it would make it okay. But it is funny when a serial killer dons the panties and dresses of his female victims. It is funny when his wig falls off and is revealed to be the scalp of his latest victim. It has to be funny; otherwise, life and all its unkindness would be impossible to live through.

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Quotes Chrissy Liked

Cormac McCarthy
“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.”
Cormac McCarthy, Child of God

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