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Child of God

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  23,292 Ratings  ·  1,981 Reviews
Lester Ballard, a violent, solitary and introverted young blackwoodsman dispossessed on his ancestral land, is released from jail and allowed to haunt the hill country of East Tennessee, preying on the population with his strange lusts.
Paperback, 197 pages
Published 1989 by Picador USA (first published January 1st 1973)
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Alicia Really the bit about him being accused of rape is only a teensy tiny bit of the story and not something I would ever have used in a description of…moreReally the bit about him being accused of rape is only a teensy tiny bit of the story and not something I would ever have used in a description of what the book is about.
It's about a man, who seems to have some kind of mental illness, who has basically become an outcast within the village where he lives. He's very lonely and I would say the main theme is this loneliness and what it does to him in the end (without giving too much away).
It's quite a strange book, but if you like strange and if you like McCarthy already, you should certainly give it a go.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Rob McGrory Wouldn't some of the bodies be the men he led into the cave and would have gotten lost after he slipped away from them?
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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
Shelves: southern
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

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
Paul Bryant
Oct 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
There is something inherently wrong with Lester Ballard. As he skulks through the backwoods of Eastern Tennessee, a hunting rifle is his only companion. Ballard's skewed thinking, awkward ways, and repugnant proclivities render him unfit to be around other people. Darkly disturbing, fascinating and repellent. Another walk in the dark with Cormac McCarthy. This is his territory.
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
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

3.5 Stars

Allow me to introduce you to my new boyfriend, Lester Ballard . . . .

Ha! Just kidding. There’s apparently even a limit to how weird I like ‘em. However, just in case you think Mitchell and I are slipping, please note that this title was added to the TBR once we discovered it was about a necrophile, which is basically our literary equivalent to . . . .

As I said before, the story here is about a man named Lester Ballard . .
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Creeeeepy!!! I couldn’t help but think of Ed Gein while reading this book. Yuck!! Very morbidly entertaining. Lol.
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
Mi colpisce nell'opera di McCarthy il ruolo che è sempre affidato alla natura: grande coprotagonista di tutte le storie, dura, selvaggia, violenta, ostica, ma non cattiva, non maligna – racchiude la colpa e il peccato, e una sua qualche redenzione.

Questa come le due immagini che seguono sono prese dal film omonimo scritto, diretto e co-interpretato da James Franco nel 2013, mai uscito in Italia, e mai uscito in un sacco di altri paesi: il film ha partecipato a qualche fe
Aug 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
J. Kent Messum
How far can one book go? How objectionable can the subject matter be?

Well, take a southern degenerate raised in an abysmal state of affairs and trace his downward spiral into serial murder and necrophilia… that’s what McCarthy did in ‘Child of God’. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This novel is a descent into the darkness that can befall an uneducated and amoral man when left to his own devices; someone abandoned on the fringes of civilization and left to fend for themselves with what li
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“He did not know how hawks mated but he knew that all things fought.”
― Cormac McCarthy, Child of God


And HE has sent me here?*

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

It wasn't as absurdly redeeming as Suttree or as coldly beautiful as Blood Meri
Such a Cute Little Novel about a Cave-Dwelling Necrophiliac Murderer

The narrator of this short novel describes the main character, Lester Ballard, as "a child of God much like yourself perhaps." A 27-year-old hillbilly outcast in 1960s, Sevier County (Smoky Mountains), Tennessee. He had no parents, recently lost his home and cannot carry on normal relationships with women. When he finds a couple dead in a parked car, he takes the woman with him to be his necro-concubine in a house in which he'
Sep 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-list
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
Sep 28, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brian Pacini
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical dark, dark McCarthy book. Really breaks contemporary stereotypes of where you think the story is going.
Doug H
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Sevier County, Tennessee is the Happiest Place on Earth. Bring Your Family. Go Spelunking!

“You think people was meaner back then than they are now? the deputy said. The old man was looking out at the flooded town. No, he said. I don’t. I think people are the same from the day God first made one.”

People are bad to the bone. Always have been, always will be. Or so Cormac McCarthy seems to feel. I don’t think I’ve read a more misanthropic book in my life.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Road and I liked t
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cormac McCarthy has an ability to turn a savage, degenerated human qualities into poetry, dark but still poetry. Loved this book. My video review:
Bojan Gacic
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, gut-feelings
<>Straziante, eppure, eppure... perchè mi piace? Perchè adoro la capacità che solo poche persone hanno di raccontare i fatti come sono, senza indorare la pillola nè per sè nè per gli altri, perché il parlare d'orrore di McCarthy sembra comunque una poesia, un flusso d'acqua che inevitabilmente scorre e dice tutto, anche ciò che preferiresti non sapere. Ogni pagina mi fa spalancare gli occhi. Non si può neanche parlare di malvagità, si parla dell'uomo/animale, peggio, di una bestia senza af ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lett-americana
Orrore, raccapriccio, violenza, miseria? Sì, ma non solo.
McCarthy mi piace sempre di più. Lui racconta l’irraccontabile con la sua prosa scarna, ruvida e splendida, mentre io non posso evitare di farmi coinvolgere, di metterci i sentimenti, le emozioni, gli interrogativi che sempre riesce a suscitare in me.

"Quando se ne furono andati, restò a guardare le orde di stelle fredde disseminate lassù nella cornice del buco, e si domandò di cosa fossero fatte, e di cosa fosse fatto lui".
Hannah Garden
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You think people was meaner then than they are now? the deputy said.
The old man was looking out at the flooded town. No, he said, I don't. I think people are the same from the day God first made one.

Never has madness been coincided with so fitting an atmosphere. A representation of fizzled humanity and self-preservation is often regarded as morally inept. But there's no doubt that our hero is Ballard, romping through a desolate landscape with his "dark lusts," poisoning Tennessee with his indulg
May 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, horror
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
May 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
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
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My god, this is dark. Whereas in his later novels, McCarthy explores ideas of right and wrong, morality and justice, there is no trace of these in Child of God: only a sheer plunge to the depths of human depravity; an intimate confrontation with the worst that a man can become. And despite the grim subject matter, this is McCarthy at his most lyrical and poetic. He manages to wring such depth and colour from his words, creating vivid pictures from unusual and imaginative combinations. These imag ...more
Ilenia Zodiaco
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
La valutazione dei libri di questo scrittore dovrebbe seguire criteri a parte, parametri misurati sul suo genio buio, la fantasia macabra,il tratteggio formidabile di personaggi dai cuori neri. La sesta stellina è McCarthy.

"Pensate che a quei tempi la gente fosse più cattiva di oggi? chiese il vicesceriffo. Il vecchio stava guardando la città inondata. No, disse. Non lo penso. Penso che la gente sia la stessa fin dal giorno che Dio creò il primo uomo".
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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
More about Cormac McCarthy...
“At one time in the world there were woods that no one owned” 121 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.” 38 likes
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