Rosana's Reviews > Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
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Dec 09, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010
Read from December 07 to 11, 2010

I feel that this book deserves a review/notations for I know I may want to check on my own thoughts about it some time from now, as it is a book that will stay with me, yet this punch on the stomach feeling I have right now, having just finished reading it, will eventually subside.

But what to say?

It reminded me of The Road. The endless perambulating through a nightmarish landscape. The sense that the characters are victims of the geographical and historical moment where they are encapsulated, which is bigger than themselves and even bigger than their humanity. And that this “historical moment” in the making does not allow for morality or compassion, therefore the characters – and us all - are all passive victims of determinism – maybe I will call it “historical landscape determinism”. (I am making any sense?)

Hum! I think I have had my “Aha Moment” about McCarthy. This is my 4th Cormac, the others being The Road, All the Pretty Horses and Suttree and I finally glimpse a common feel about all these books: in each one of these stories, the characters are embedded into a collective occurrence that is beyond their understand and capability to overcome. How could one – for instance – overcome or understand itself as part of biological evolution? So, how can an individual or character in Cormac’s books overcome the historical moment in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War, or an apocalypse as in The Road? One could argue that at least the character of Suttree does have a philosophical understanding of himself and the historical/social moment in which he is living. He is also the only main character that does not abandon himself in a trail of violence, and that at times shows a sense of humour. Yet, Suttree – the character – seems to abandon himself into what I have named “historical landscape”, as if fighting it would be impossible and needless. Biological evolution too will keep its course, making victims and casualties along the way, completely beyond any sense of morality, and so will the historical moment... then, there, now and into the apocalyptical future.

Now, that McCarthy is able to follow along his characters, endlessly describing the physical landscape around them with poetic and cinematographic sensitivity, and that as a reader I am/we are pulled along over violence so gruesome as to be inhumane, through an story so dry and plotless, where the characters’ inner thoughts are never revealed, and yet we don’t often falter and abandon him: this is Cormac McCarthy’s genius.

I don’t want to sound as if by this “Aha Moment” I pretend to explain all of McCarthy’s books (the ones I read anyway). Cormac is out of my league and I will leave the literary experts to do it. But my own personality requires that I analyze what I read, and this is the conclusion I arrived at. Feel free to let me know if you don’t agree, or if you do think I don’t make sense.

... They rode one. They rode like men invested with a purposed whose origins were antecedent to them, like blood legatees of an order both imperative and remote. For although each man among them was discrete into himself, conjoined they made a thing that had not been before and in that communal soul were wastes hardly reckonable more than those whited regions on old maps where monsters do live and where there is nothing other of the known world save conjectural winds.

Minutes after I posted my thoughts on this book, I opened a page in it and literary serendipity made me read this passage on pg 152 of the 1992 Vintage Edition. I don’t know if anyone but myself will see a glimpse of what I just wrote and this passage, but I – in the literary high this book has left me – do see it. McCarthy, of course, is much more poetic than I ever will be. But I had tried to convey the sense that McCarthy leaves with me that his characters are incapable to escape something that is “antecedent to them”, and “imperative and remote” in its determination. Of course, it would be too simple to think that McCarthy gives us the key to understanding this book of his and others in one simple sentence, yet I want to think that it does somewhat.

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Charles By god I think you've got it. Read more

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