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Blood Meridian, or, the Evening Redness in the West


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About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in1933 and spent most of his childhood near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later studied at the University of Tennessee. In 1976 he moved to El Paso, Texas, where he lives today. McCarthy's fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West--the first four novels being set in Tennessee, the last three in the Southwest and Mexico. The Orchard Keeper (1965) won the Faulkner Award for a first novel; it was followed by Outer Dark (1968), Child of God (1973), Suttree (1979), Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award for fiction in 1992, and The Crossing.


McCarthy has written two survival tales, with unnamed characters traveling westward through desolate landscapes. Mercifully unique, Blood Meridian (1985) pre-sents gruesome horror as literary Western, sketching the adventures of an unidentified teen who joins a marauding gang of scalp hunters in the 1850s Southwest. The first three hours are a tour de force of sustained repellency, piling atrocity upon atrocity before settling into a more sustainable rate of a massacre or two per chapter. McCarthy's achievement here is his prose, not quite biblical, not quite Faulknerian, much of it unfamiliar enough to sound made up. Reader Richard Poe groans the lines, and if he only uses a few voices, most of the characters seem meant to be indistinguishable. Widely regarded as a modern classic, however unpleasant, this title belongs in most library collections. Bleak as it is, Road seems much more palatable in comparison, offering compassion in the person of a dying father who protects and cares for his son as they travel through a world shattered by an unexplained apocalypse. Starving and exhausted, they travel to the Pacific, scavenging food when they can and keeping other rapacious, cannibalistic survivors at bay. The boy tells himself they're the "good guys" and "carry the flame," but the father does what he must to survive. Veteran reader Tom Stechschulte navigates McCarthy's arcane language, emphasizing the pair's shared tenderness, in a wonderfully moving tale. Road's Pulitzer Prize and Oprah selection speak for themselves; essential.-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"McCarthy is a writer to be read, to be admired, and quite honestly--envied."
--Ralph Ellison

"McCarthy is a born narrator, and his writing has, line by line, the stab of actuality. He is here to stay."
--Robert Penn Warren

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