Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West discussion

Your thoughts on "Blood Meridian"

Comments Showing 1-50 of 65 (65 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

Dane What were some of your favorite scenes in "Blood Meridian?"

What did you think of the judge's character?

And who exactly is the kid?

Any responses will be greatly appreciated!

message 2: by Max (new) - rated it 5 stars

Max I'd agree with Lisa. Having only read Blood Meridian, and seen the move No Country for Old Men, I'm not too familiar with McCarthy. McCarthy does have a flair for deeply prophetic characters, though. What completely sums up the novel, for me at least, is the first scene of the Judge, where he convinces the entire town to run the Priest out of his tent, simply to see if the townees would.

Totally unique style of writing, if not a bit dense at times. My only complaint would be that every scene, every setting, every conversation never seems to deal with what is at hand, but more directed at commentary at life itself. The plot and characters, though immensely personable, are nothing more than a vehicle for McCarthy's reflections. I guess that's the fun in telling a story though :)

Jason I think my favorite section is the story the Judge tells of running from the indians, running out of gun powder, and then climbing to the top of the mountain to make more gunpowder just in time to slaughter their pursuers. Most of his speeches, though, are glorious. I especially like the one where he talks about birds--"I'd have them all in zoos" or cages or something like that.

I wonder how much McCarthy was really thinking about the true events that he took this story from. In which case, is the Judge an attempt on McCarthy's part to find reason in the scalp hunters madness? The band of men is a bizarre microcosm of violence that seems connected to reality by the slimmest of connections. They never encounter any real people without destroying them.

I never thought about the glaring lack of religion, which is a fascinating point. The story begins with the Judge banishing religion from the book, in a sense, and then he sort of sets himself up as the replacement. One might argue that the book is steeped in "religion," just filtered through the Judge's brutal gospel.

As far as I'm concerned this is modern allegory at it's best.

Chaz "As far as I'm concerned this is modern allegory at it's best. "

I concur. Although the book is nihilistic -- McCarthy seems to searching for greater truth. The judge stated "God is war" I think the simple statement sums up all the religious interpretations quite succinctly.

I did have some questions on the judge's motivations for sketching and collecting native artifacts, people and events. Was he trying to discover a new world through Chronicles? -- pass on knowledge? Create meaning?

message 5: by Max (new) - rated it 5 stars

Max One of my favorite quotes from the book. Its during the scene just before the indians are chasing them, and they climb the big rocky hill, and then start pissing on the mineral to make gunpowder.

"Whatever exists. Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent...
This is my claim. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine, nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation...No man can acquaint himself with everything on this earth. The man who believes that the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will be the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate...
The freedom of birds is an insult to me. I'd have them all in zoos."

Raymund I wondered if his categorizing and logging of the world was really about the study of war. I thought that there might have been a marrying of violence/war with intellect. To me, in this instance, the ideology of Noah as saviour has been intertwined with the ideology of Mephistopholes as taker. When the Judge was asked about birds he responded, "The flight of birds insults me". The common allusions we have to flight I believe are towards freedom and autonomy. There is no freedom unless all is for war. Everything else, to the Judge is ancillary and without merit. If the thing or idea can not be related to violence/war then intellect must turn it towards those ends. Penultimately, he has the dance and the beautiful symmetry of the wounded bear's dance and it's only course of action to dance because it was the only thing it was trained to do versus the enigmatic Judge's dance on the stage, which was earlier described by himself to the Kid before it was ever even enacted. Something to the effect that only the warrior is allowed to dance and that all others had no right.

There is also the statement "God is war". This correlates with Bloom's reading of the book as a Gnostic allegory. And would also allow for the divinity of man. I stated earlier that the Judge's categorizing was Noah-like in some aspects, but it is also Adam like as well. Wherein, we have the narcissistic right to name the world as we see fit, and we do. I believe the Judge also stated something to the effect of, if I don't know of it's existence then it doesn't deserve to live. This statement allows for the Judge to be his namesake, a Judge (we never do find out what he is a Judge of, do we?). If, as Bloom reads this book to be Gnostic tract, then this is an example of man reaching for the divine and God is war is a direct statement that the Demiurge is truly fallible and imperfect. War/violence is certainly nothing to strive for, or to be held up as en example for us to emulate as we would a god, a Christ. As human beings striving for our right to be divine, making sense of war with one's intellect is the best course that we could take. That is, given who our god is.

Chaz Well said Raymund! So, the Judge's religion is the practice of warfare?

Raymund I don't think that I would see his practice of warfare as a religion but as his attempt to reach the divine. Intellect meets violence as the example of the gunpowder making story gives us. I guess this sounds a little confusing because I don't necessarily think that the divine needs to be reached through any type of dogma, and the Judge creates his own dogma and ritual for sure. Here, I refer to the divine as War or the God of War. It does seem most convenient to use religious metaphors to this end though. Specifically, I think of Jacob's ladder. And specifically Jacob's Ladder in Flannery Oconnors's "The Violent Bear It Away".

Moreover, God is War and the chaos that is a part of war and violence would lend itself more to the spontaneous, more to sheer survival than it would to religious dogma.

It is a bit of a conundrum to think that although man is divine, god is not and therefore we strive for divinity with an imperfect example.

message 9: by Donster (last edited Jun 08, 2008 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Donster On the Judge:
I've wondered about this character for a long time-who or what he is; what McCarthy intends him to represent. My first impression was that he represents the innate destructive nature of man, and of white men in particular. He brings to the untamed west all of modern man's knowledge, modern weapons, science, and philosophy and sets about killing Natives.
Blood Meridian has a great many parallels with Moby Dick and I think the albino Judge represents man's capacity for violence in much the same way the albino whale represents the force of nature in Melville's novel.
Incidentally, it wasn't the Judge who told the story about the gunpowder. It was one of the other characters describing how the party met the Judge (the ex-priest Tobin, I think) and the Faustian bargain the Judge seemed to have made with Glanton.

Steev Hise Yes I think the Judge represents Man, or Western Man at least and the tendency to want to analyze, pick apart, know, and finally dominate and destroy everything and everyone.

I feel like I already understand and agree with this view of Man, so this book was in the end a big disappointment to me. I was hoping there would be some more positive turn at the end, some reason to slog through all that gore. I'm tired of nihilism.

Here's a new question though - what does the title mean - what is the "blood meridian"? Some blurbs or reviews have claimed that it's the border, but a meridian is a north-south line, so I don't know. Maybe McCarthy means that the march of civilization westward is the blood meridian?

message 11: by Rex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rex McCulloch I agree with Lisa. Although comparison with the Judeo-Christian "Devil" are tempting, the Judge is more like the Hindu Kali--destroyer and creator. Of course, the Judge wants to destroy things so he can create them to his own likeness.

The kid is a foil to the Judge, in that he displays a conscience. The Judge wants to corrupt him and is ultimately frustrated in this: "You would have been like a son to me." Unable to make the kid in his own image, the Judge has no other choice but to destroy him.

Norman There are some interesting posts here. Unfortunately, I found reading these interpretations far more entertaining than reading the novel itself!

While reading Blood Meridian, I kept thinking that it should have been written as a comic book, with its vivid images of the desert, the bloody violence, and the larger-than-life character of the judge (I kept seeing him as a comic-book panel rather than a real character that I could in any way care about). The 'kid' also seemed to have the two-dimensionality of a comic-book figure.

I had read The Road prior to picking up Blood Meridian, and thought that the post-apocalyptic setting and sharp focus on the man and his son worked to create a powerful effect. The ending was weak, but at least the author had the sense to know when to stop. With Blood Meridian, I ended up skim-reading the last 200 pages in about 20 minutes...just so I could finally put the book down. I have subsequently re-read those pages after perusing the comments written by others above, but I still maintain that the novel went on too long and failed to provoke a sense of story with characters we could care about.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Interesting. I found the characters to be so deep. Each time I read it I'm trying to figure out what makes these men tick. It seems as though these people we read about are more than just some characters in a book but ideas that are so dark and perverse. Glanton, the Judge, Toadvine, the Kid, all of these people are possibly our worst nightmare and what we hope we could never turn into.

As for the novel being "entertaining" I can see where you are coming from. If you feel that way then I would definitely recommend not reading "all the pretty horses" and the trilogy that comes with it. His books can get tiresome but I think they read like I'm literally watching a movie. I love them though because my imagination runs wild with how he describes the scenary and the story.

David S. I guess I never really thought about the comparisson between Moby Dick and the Judge. This book can be interpreted in whatever way you choose. My take was seeing each of the characters as each of their races: white, hispanic (Mexican), Indian, Black. However, McCarthy points out on numerous occassions about the Judge's albinoism. I view this as the Judge is not the devil; but, the entire collective of the white race. He is literally "the judge", as the white race has been the one to "judge" and dispense their own brand of justice, and right and wrong.

The Kid is innocence. Showing that Hate/Prejudice is taught, you are not born with it. He is trying to become his own person, with his own thoughts/views. Near the end we find him trying to save himself, his soul, and the lost ones around him. He attempts to save the woman in the desert only to find that she is beyond saving. Next he sees the dancing bear (another view of innocence) being destroyed for no apparent reason, besides shits and giggles. The final straw is debauchery with the midget prostitute. Degradation is everywhere. And, in the end he gives himself over to the Judge, like most of us, whites, do. We become part of the collective, because it is easier to just follow the status quo, than it is to go against it.

One thing I did not understand really is the "Epilogue". Is McCarthy describing the railroads being built? In other words, civilization is just around the corner to save us. Read it numerous times, but, am still unsure.

I never knew that meridian meant North/South. I just assumed that the name of the book, Blood Meridian, was another name for the US/Mexican border. Maybe it is the division of good and evil in us all.

I know I'll end up re-reading this book many times in the future. And, definitely, the next time I'm bringing a Spanish/English Dictionary.

message 15: by Zach (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zach Irvin The epilogue is definitely the most frustrating part of the novel for me. Although I'm pretty sure what's happening is the man is making holes for fence posts. I think the gesture is supposed to show the beginning of the civilization of the West, however superficial that might have been. Beyond this though I have no idea.

I just reread this book for class and I was kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed reading the character of the Kid. First of all, he's just so bad ass. The scene where he fights the bartender near the beginning really got the macho juices (an odd statement I understand, but it's the best I can come up with) flowing. And the last two or three chapters really belong to him and I feel that he is really fleshed out in those scenes. One of my favorite parts of the novel is when the kid is talking to that husk of an old woman. It's so touching because he honestly wants to save her, but his act of clemency is wasted from the beginning.

Then of course the Judge. I heard someone mention that the Judge is a representation of Manifest Destiny and supposed to show the violence that this idea actually entailed. Not the idealized version of it that so many Americans came to accept. I think this makes a lot of sense, but personally I feel like the Judge is a representation of the scientific impulse that we as humans have. We as humans try so hard to document every single thing that we come into contact with and in a way this serves to destroy the things in-themselves and force them into neat categories that we can use and discard at our own convenience. It gets rid of the essence of the thing and turns it into nothing more than a tool. And unfortunately, we the thing we are best at when using these tools is coming up with different ways to kill one another. Like when the Judge makes gunpowder from the raw materials around him. Or when the Judge uses berry seeds as bullets to shoot birds with. Science and war are inextricably linked, and the Judge seems to know this and so science becomes a manifestation of our basic violent instincts.

message 16: by Wastrel (new) - added it

Wastrel I just thought that the Judge was Hegel. Not literally Hegel, obviously, but the voice of a particularly negative, violent form of post-Kantian german idealism. He explicitly references Hegel a couple of times, iirc, and I thought there were echoes of Fichte too - both his philosophy and his Addresses to the German Nation.

This ties in, of course, with the idea of the Judge as the symbol of Modernity: it's this Hegelianism that would have represented modernity in that age, and to us still represents the dark and totalising element (fascism and communism both sprang out of hegelianism).

But it's been too long since I read the book for me to say anything more specific.

Timothy K. My thoughts are that Blood Meridian and Suttree are the best two novels published consecutively by an American writer within the last fifty years. Certainly the second half of the 20th Century.

Those two should have won McCarthy a Nobel years ago.

message 18: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom On the meaning of the title: The east Texas town of Nacogdoches where the kid first meets the judge is located upon the 98th meridian which was thought of as the boundary between frontier and wilderness.

message 19: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul I will be the heretic. I absolutely despised this book. Where to start? Just dispensing with the lack of punctuation and quotation marks as means to make it harder to read, McCarthy wanders off into sentences that either aren't sentences ["The Dipper Stove"] to or sentences that run on and on linked by "and". Some of the sentences sound like the spam you get from foreign countries. [("It had narrowly missed the carotid artery yet he could not make the blood to stop."}.
His use of arcane symbolism and words lifted from a thesarus as when a character is struck with an axe and split to the thrape (throat). Not a page goes by without some description beginning with "like a".
The violence is so extreme and gushes off the pages it soon becomes a comic book farce and any impact intended the author is lost as the reader skims over the descriptions. Everything in this world happens in extremis to the point the reader becomes innured to what was intended to convey the opposite.

Finally, we have this group of outlaws raping, scalping, bounty hunting, and pillaging. No matter how many times they are attacked and decimated, their numbers never seem to diminish. They never seem to accumulate anything of value. The kid is not even a successful enough pillager to accumulate a decent weapon, a saddle that isn't worn out, pants that aren't rags or even a pair of boots. With all their raiding they seem to rely on eating road kill and carrion as their staple diet. The carcasses always seems to be cooked over a fire that is blowing horizontally. They live under constant gale conditions.
Nothing happens in this book that isn't carried to the extreme. The perfect example of this is The Judge. What kind of statement does it make for a man to say anything he doesn't have knowledge of must be destroyed? Does anyone act like that? today he would be institutionalized. In that period he would have been killed just because he was irritating. If, like The Kid and companion, see a man approaching clad only in a cloak of rotting human skin and topped by a mud hat, my recommendation is to shoot first and ask questions later.
My view is McCarthy is having a good laugh at all the critics who drool over the stylism, ambiguity and imagined symbolism that doesn't exist.

Karen What a wonderful discussion going on here! McCarthy's prose is stunningly beautiful, and even though I don't entirely disagree with Ken's parsing, it sparkles, shines and punches in many unique ways. It seems to me that most of what I've read (Blood Meridan, The Road, and No Country For Old Men) underscores the human being's tendency to kill other human beings. And, yes, a Nobel for literature is overdue.

message 21: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul I liked No Country and am afraid to read The Road. BM is so depressing and tedious to me, I don't want to subject myself to The Road.
I saw nothing in the words of Blood Meridian that sparkled or shined though the tree of dead babies was pretty uplifting. Blood Meridian, in my estimation, is a baroque splatter movie.

message 22: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul The edition I read started with a lengthy analysis by some reviewer. I started to read it and it commenced to tell me BM was as important a work of fiction as Moby Dick or Faulkner (try wading through Sound and the Fury sometime). When I read that all I could picture was James Lipton fawning over some Hollywood luminary like Keanu Reaves, telling him how important his body of work is. I tried reading the pretty ponies trilogy and got half way through the first book. Other than liking No Country, I won't be picking up any McCarthy books.

Does archetypal mean English as a second language?

McMurtry's Lonesome Dove tells much the same sort of tale as BM except the characters are sharply drawn and have actual personalities. The story is carried by the cattle drive and there is even a parallel character to The Judge in Blue Duck. McMurtry conveys the same points but with plausible characters who actually speak as the reader would expect. The events in the story, while equally as violent, are paced and thus have some impact. McCarthy saturates each page with such extreme and pathological violence the reader quickly goes numb. In BM, the characters are little more than two legged animals. Their conversations and thoughts are primitive lizard brain but the narration is stylized beyond the comprehension of the characters. The result is what I would expect if Shakespeare composed the video game Gears of War.

Did I mention I don't think much of Cormac McCarthy?

message 23: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul Always glad to be of service.

message 24: by Zach (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zach Irvin Well Ken, just because you don't like a particular author or set of books does not mean that they have no value. McCarthy is, whether you like him or not, one of the most prominent and thought provoking authors of the American 20th century. His books are discussed and read constantly for a reason. And even though you don't like BM, the fact that you commented on this post means that McCarthy is a powerful enough writer to evoke strong emotions in you.

Michael T Like The Road, this book was stinky

message 26: by Rex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rex McCulloch I suspect, Ken, that McCarthy has had quite a laugh at critics and academics (and rightly so), but I'm sure he isn't doing it in BM. It's clear you don't appreciate the novel's often highly-stylized writing, which does break rules at will and without answering even to itself at times. Fair enough; you're certainly in the majority. It seems you enjoy the nuanced, believable characters of some other novel rather than the mythic, archetypal ones of BM. Your prerogative, certainly. I personally don't "get" most of the writing of John Updike, for example, but I wouldn't dismiss the talent and power of it even if I had the knowledge and appreciation to, and especially because I don't.

message 27: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul "mythic, archetypal ones of"

Almost everything I read on BM uses this phrase or a derivative. Archetypal is usually employed to reference easily recognizable 'type-cast' of character or some character with an easily understood or associative traits. Unless McCarthy's characters are supposed to be archetypal psychopaths or rapists, there is nothing anyone could or would want to identify or recognize.

To me, the characters belong in a a comic book with balloons over their heads filled with expletives. Contrast with Updike. Most of his male characters are, to some respect, cads and heels. However they behave there are aspects that people can recognize or relate to. "Yeah, I know somebody like that." As for the characters in BM, if you can relate to either their action or motive, then professional help is encouraged.

Rather than run on, I will suffice it to say-
Stinky. +1

However, if someone wants to pull the little ring on my back that spews Cormac McCarthy comments, feel free.

message 28: by Tom (last edited Dec 11, 2011 06:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Comparing Blood Merdian to Lonesome Dove is one sure fire way to tell that someone has misunderstood it. Archetypal does not mean type-cast, it refers to characters that reflect a fundamental aspect of humanity, one that cannot be boiled down any further. A character in modern fiction will usually encapsulate several archetypal roles.

If you are the type that must "relate" to the characters in a novel, you will not appreciate the subtext in Blood Meridian. If you hang your hat on what's happening at any individual moment, you cannot appreciate its scope. In fact, I don't feel like you can even attempt to approach its depth in a single read through.

It's perfectly okay to not like a book but I hope that no one curious about it is dissuaded from reading it by Ken's arguments, which I feel miss the mark wildly on numerous points. For instance, how the book resembles a comic "filled with expletives" is completely beyond my reckoning.

message 29: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul Did you somehow get the impression I wasn't wild about this book?

What fundamental aspect of humanity did The Kid express, or Blanton, or the Judge or any of the other characters? If they did, what subtle subtext did they express that made them different from each other. Yeah, the Judge probably had some characteristics unique from the others but only to the extent he actually expressed a twisted philosophy and backed it with abominable deeds that were essentially fundamentally human and possessed by each of us.

My comic book reference was in regard to the depth of the characters. Once drawn they did not vary or develop. any of them could have been the Joker in a Batman comic or a character from Sin City or a Reservoir Dog. One dimensional one directional.
The Judge was probably re-sketched as Chigurh in No Country. Relentless, focused, brutal, sadistic....but aren't we all of that and more fundamentally?

Did you somehow get the impression I wasn't wild about this book?

David S. I was lucky enough this year to read "Blood Meridian", "Lonesome Dove" and Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory". All three are amazing novels, on their own; and, comparisons and connections can be found - or want to be found. But, all three are seperate entities. Unique in their own field.

"Lonesome Dove" is an epic story filled with all the aspects of a great story (plot): Love, revenge, family, character growth, and setting.

"Blood Meridian" is more about mood, theme, and mythical status. The plot is secondary. Actually, the plot could most likely be summed up in 2 or 3 sentences. But, if asked what the book is about. Well...this could create books on their own. A proper comparison, I would say, would be to Dante's "Inferno". Or Milton's "Paradise Lost". Which is most likely why the comparison to "Moby Dick". The great novel is about going after a white whale; but, if you've ever read the book, you do understand that this book is a helluva lot more than that.

Greene's novel "The Power and the Glory" is like a combination of the two. But, leans more towards the mood, theme and morality tale.

If it's McCarthy's writing style that drives you nuts (it did me, when I first started to read him), I look at it as though you are getting to sit down with the author and hear him tell the tale as though he were sitting in front of you. Now, of course, some of the words he uses are some you need a thesaurus for, but, maybe that is the "best" word to describe what he is trying to say, in the fewest words possible. (Graham is much better at, but, that's just my opinion). Some people talk in run on sentences,..and, sometimes this can be very irritating...and, sometimes the narrator does it because he is just so excited about telling you the tale, that he doesn't care if it is gramatically correct.

I'm sorry to see that Ken does not find McCarthy's writing and prose to his liking. And, I respect that. I see that Ken has also done some writing of his own. If you were going to be remembered for a novel of any kind, which type would it be? "Moby Dick" or "Lonesome Dove"?

Even though it is not one of my favourite books, I personally would love to be remembered for "Blood Meridian"; because love or hate, they are gonna atleast be talking about it for a while!

message 31: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom @Ken, I think it's totally open to interpretation. To me the kid is the hardest to pin down. He's fearless but unsure, a live and let live kind of guy who's pulled along into this mad world with the scalp hunters. He's also the only one who grows through the story.

Glanton is a conquerer. He is reckless and merciless. I see him as an philistine running rampant through the unmade world. Many of the other named characters are only extensions of his influence.

Tobin plays the role of sage, however culpable he may be in the vicious deaths of natives. He plays foil to the judge's influence on the kid.

The judge is a devil. His acknowledgement of the beauty of the world comes with a price and that price is control. The judge is interested in domination, corruption, violence and chaos, but he has a scrupulous eye for the attendant details. He wants to know that which he seeks to possess. And what he cannot know he must destroy.

When you combine these things you can start to see the story as an allegory for creation, or a critique on the brutal subjugation of the Native Americans, a treatise on the morality of Manifest Destiny...

As for the violence, I think it's meant to be pervasive and numbing, un-titillating. When you combine McCarthy's use of the subject matter with the judges core philosophy, that man is an instrument of war and death, all kinds of questions come to mind. Does the rampant death and destruction prove the judge's point? Is there any justice besides what a man provides for himself? Is a thirst for domination what destroys us or ultimately keeps us virile?

These aren't easy questions to swallow and no standard narrative can bring them to bear. The way McCarthy subverts our expectations is challenging and disturbing and more like life than stories. I think that's why so many people are affected by his work. His writing is so isolating. We are never allowed to know the minds at work in his fiction. His discipline in this regard is astonishing.

Blood Meridian is not a book that plays by the rules. McCarthy set new rules and we are forced to learn them while we read along. I think that's why so many people have problems with his books.

message 32: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul Now don't go all James Lipton on us.
For me, I won't learn rules where I don't think any were intended other than to expunge the author's own nightmarish visions.

message 33: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul Hey, as the McCarthy heretic, I feel like a bull being savaged by the picador Forgive me a redundancy or two.

I made my point earlier on how McCarthy uses sentences that aren't or don't even make grammatical sense. His excessive use of 'as like' and his ever handy 1854 thesaurus. To me those aren't writing new rules or even breaking them. Its either lazy or intentional abuse of the writer. Perhaps it is like Hunter S. Thompson, being outrageous to garner a juvenile thirst for attention.

bring on the HST fans.

message 34: by Tom (last edited Dec 12, 2011 06:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

"I won't learn rules where I don't think any were intended other than to expunge the author's own nightmarish visions."

Sounds kind of judge-like to me... “That which exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.”

message 35: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul Low tequila is what McCarthy was drinking when he wrote this mish mash of incomplete, inarticulate, run on, poorly punctuated sentences filled with pointless descriptions, obscure references, endless conjunctions and vague metaphors.

I picture him waking up on the bathroom floor, wiping the vomit from his mini-cassette recorder and stammering out the next thousand words of this masterpiece. He stands, avoiding his reflection in the mirror and stumbles about looking for an 'eye-opener'. He finds the bottle of mescal, worm still intact, under his editor's passed out body. By noon the collaboration of the day's production is complete and they send out for more mescal and Modelo beer. They try to procure some prostitutes but word has gotten out about the gringoes.

message 36: by Karl (last edited Dec 13, 2011 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl The Judge is a great character, but I think the only way to view him is as the Gnostic Demi-God that Harold Bloom puts forward. He displays characteristics and endurance and a lifespan that is simply not human.

I have only read 3 novels by Cormac McCarthy (The Road, No Country For Old Men, and The Road) and we see a similiar implacable foe in Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men. If the Judge is a reprensentation of a god of war, or manifest destiny in the west, then Chigurh represents blind fate: even the end of No Country For Old Men demonstrates this idea, that despite all the horrible stuff Chigurh does in the novel, he will be blindly run over by a car and yet still live, because in McCarthy's view and many other peoples, things happen randomly in the universe (Ie. You can do bad things, and it doesn't mean you have to die for it, you could get run over, but it is not karma, it's just random--chaotic).

Fascinating book.

message 37: by Karl (last edited Dec 13, 2011 09:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Ken wrote: "Did you somehow get the impression I wasn't wild about this book?

What fundamental aspect of humanity did The Kid express, or Blanton, or the Judge or any of the other characters? If they did, ..."

Except The Joker and Batman are not one dimensional. So that throws a spanner in the works of that train of thought.
Both have 70 years of characterisation and stories. Sure, Batman's goals are set in stone, but his character has many layers to it.

message 38: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul Guess I'm just not up on the nuances of DC comics. Nice attempt at dissembling the point, though.

Michael T Don't be too hard on him Ken, English is his second language.

message 40: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul Michael wrote: "Don't be too hard on him Ken, English is his second language."

You mean McCarthy, right?

Michael T Lol, yes

message 42: by Zach (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zach Irvin McCarthy's use of run-on sentences is not because he does not understand the English language. In fact, he probably knows more about it than most of the people on this website. It is because he is so masterful with the language that he is able to manipulate it the way he does. He uses language much in the same way Faulkner does. His abundant use of the word 'like' is a way of suspending moments within the text in order to fully explain all the complex ideas he is trying to convey. Also, McCarthy does not just use run-on sentences. Many times his language mimics Hemingway. He uses stacatto sentences like a machine gun to create enormous tension within the stories. Really Ken, it's ok if you do not like McCarthy's writing style, but referring to him as a hack the way you have been is just plain wrong. I am not a big fan of Henry James, but that does not mean that he is a bad writer, it just mean that he doesn't appeal to my tastes.

message 43: by Tom (last edited Dec 13, 2011 08:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom “When the lambs is lost in the mountain, he said. They is cry. Sometime come the mother. Sometime the wolf.”

Also true of discussions on Goodreads, sometime come the thinker, sometime the troll...

message 44: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Ken wrote: "Guess I'm just not up on the nuances of DC comics. Nice attempt at dissembling the point, though."

Well, I wasn't trying to spite your point but you used poor examples for forward your point. I wouldn't use a football analogy to further a point without having any knowledge of football.

Michael T The Twilight avatar with BLADE in it!

message 46: by Karl (last edited Dec 14, 2011 06:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl I like his style. Style is imperfection. Style is who you are. This is Cormac McCarthy's style. Nice to meet you reader.

Jose Saramago wasn't fond of complex or rigorous punctuation either.
I have no problem if someone doesn't like an author's style, but it's wrong to say the style is poor without any examples of why it is poor, and how the style is detrimental to the story one is telling.

message 47: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Karl, I don't think they have any examples. It just differs so much from what they were expecting that it smacks them as pretentious. "If Larry McMurtry uses quotation marks then that must be the only way to do it..."

McCarthy does this to genre people. With The Road he pulled in people expecting a post-apocalyptic action story and instead got a Pulitzer Prize winning love note to his son. With Blood Meridian, he set the stage like any other western but doesn't succumb to any of the common tropes. His prose is big and biblical. His characters are like jerky, dried to their essence and hard to chew. These things are disquieting for someone looking for a good cowboys and indians book. Throw in the ultra-violence, disturbing imagery, the solipsistic point of view, and I'm not surprised people really dislike this book. I just wish they'd take their conversation elsewhere...

message 48: by Karl (last edited Dec 14, 2011 06:44AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl That's it.

You have to remember, The Road is popular because of Oprah Winfrey. I admire the fact that her show tv/book club promotes the act of reading, but I am not sure how she chooses her titles and such. I mean, American Pastoral is a great book, but you don't read Roth for his plots, so I feel casual readers might be slightly put off and underwhelmed when they jump on the bandwagon reading books, that are made popular by a chat show host.

Reminds me of a funny moment from a few months back. I was reading The Trial by Kafka and someone asked me if I was reading a murder mystery!

message 49: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Karl wrote: "Reminds me of a funny moment from a few months back. I was reading The Trial by Kafka and someone asked me if I was reading a murder mystery! "

I had a similar moment just yesterday. I told someone I was reading DeLillo's White Noise and she told me it was scary. I asked her how so and she said she had seen the movie with Michael Keaton.

message 50: by Ken (new) - rated it 1 star

Ken Consaul Come one, we're having some fun with this. Here's a thread that managed a couple dozen posts in two years and now our banter has given it new life.

« previous 1
back to top