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Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
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1001 book reviews > Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3950 comments Mod
READ 2014:
Review: This is a novel of the American West, the true story not the romantic story. In the style of McCarthy, it is violent and sparse, Biblical tone and in the style of no punctuation that McCarthy is known. It follows the Kid who leaves home at 14 and joins up with a gang that is murdering Indians for their scalps. It is based on the historical events that took place in 1850s along the Texas-Mexico border. I asked myself, can this really be true or did the author use poetical license so he could sell books. This is what wiki has to say… “McCarthy conducted considerable research to write the book. Critics have repeatedly demonstrated that even brief and seemingly inconsequential passages of Blood Meridian rely on historical evidence. The Glanton gang segments are based on Samuel Chamberlain's account of the group in his memoir My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue, which he wrote during the latter part of his life. Chamberlain rode with John Joel Glanton and his company between 1849 and 1850. The novel's antagonist Judge Holden appeared in Chamberlain's account, but his true identity remains a mystery. Chamberlain does not openly appear in the novel.”


message 2: by Diane (last edited Sep 01, 2019 11:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Zwang | 1214 comments Mod
Read in 2017
4 stars

“This is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.”

This is my second McCarthy novel and I still think he is an amazing writer. There were some unique things to this novel. First, each chapter has bullet points giving you a glimpse into the future. I really liked this and have read another book with this technique. Second, the two protagonist are nameless; the Kid and the Judge, this took a bit getting used to for me.

I enjoyed the first part of the novel in which the Kid was the central character. I was invested in the Kid and was wondering how things would turn out for him. About a third of the way through the Judge becomes more prominent and the book becomes more violent. The Judge is an interesting character; he is intelligent and multi-lingual but also violent and ruthless. I became less interested in the story at this point because the Judge is such an unlikable character.

The last third of the book was well worth the journey for me. I felt the whole story came together as well as understanding more about the how and why of the characters. But there was one key detail that was not clear to me that I have had to do a lot of research about.

In terms of comparison, I preferred All The Pretty Horses. That story ticked all the boxes for me because it was about a family, relationships as well as the old west. This story lacked the relationships and it was more about survival, man versus man and man versus elements. I was not heavily invested in any character of this book.

It was quite a ride and I am still digesting what I have just read.

“This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification”.

“War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence.”

“Men of god and men of war have strange affinities.”

“A man seeks his own destiny and no other, said the judge.”


Amanda Dawn | 991 comments Listened to this one for my last TBR of the year. I keep forgetting that Cormac McCarthy is known for his lack of punctuation style because I keep listening to his books and it isn’t really noticeable on audio, it flows kind of naturally actually.

For the book itself: I did think certain elements of the frontier story were compelling, and some of the depictions of brutality were particularly striking. I also like how it undercuts the golden age of Hollywood/Westerns idea of the nobility of Americans on the frontier, when this book lays the struggle and violence and imperialism of manifest destiny pretty bare. But, I still don’t think I’ve ever read a Western I was really obsessed with- I guess it’s just not my thing. Which is odd, considering I love historical narratives, adventure stories, the struggle of pioneering etc (Little House on the prairie and My Antonia were more my speed for these themes lol). I think it might be the type of machismo and stoicism imbued in these stories. And, while I do think McCarthy does subvert some of the more trope laden versions of this, it ultimately doesn’t speak the language as I do.

I guess I’d say I enjoyed certain aspects of it, it was well written, but not my favorite. I gave it 3 stars.


Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 465 comments It is one thing to know that the reality of life in the West (and elsewhere) was gruesomely vicious sometimes. It is another thing to read (or write) a story following all the gory details of mass slaughter, murders as entertainment, and the rest of the evil that went on when groups of men took off armed with no legal oversight and a taste for blood. This novel has a style that reminded me a lot of the stories in the Bible, and in Homer's Odyssey, a reminder that in fact this same sort of evil happens all over the world, not just in the Mexican and American past. It certainly captures what rabidly evil men are capable of, and the realities behind those occasional mentions of scalp bounties and vigilantes with trophy collections in our childhood history books.
So, was this book well written? Sure. Did I enjoy it? Nope. Would I recommend it to anyone? Probably not. And I again have to wonder at the choices the compilers made in their book selections for the List. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.


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