Monday, 10 October 2011

Great Writers: Cormac McCarthy

I can't remember whether I already mentioned it, but I'm having a Cormac McCarthy binge.  So far I've read The Road*, No Country for Old Men, Blood Meridian, Child of God, Suttree and currently on Outer Dark.  His books are like nothing I've read before, and proof that the rule book of writing is there to be ground into the dust.  On the face of it he does everything you're advised not to do.  When I first started reading The Road I was painfully conscious of his lack of punctuation, lack of speech tags, repetition and odd grammatical - even poetic - structure.   But the odd thing is once I got past the first few pages I stopped noticing all that and became immersed in the story.  

He writes in a cinematic style that drives the narrative forward like a freight train.  There are no coy niceties here.  He deals with the horrific underbelly of human nature - characters lovingly drawn warts and all in extremis, facing or causing death, indulging the worst depravity, living on the edge of human endurance.  His images of poverty stricken America belie the American Dream and he doesn't shy away from reality or try to glamorise it.  At once it is absorbing and fascinating, repellent and disgusting.   

I love it!

*Just watched the film version of this and it's terrific.  Every inch as bleak as the book but terrific and true to the story.

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