Sunday, March 10, 2019

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

There is a serious war on, people. And I am not talking about the Americans, the Mexicans, and the Apaches who take turns slaughtering each other in this historical novel - I am talking about me and my grandson, Jackson. It seems that Jackson was feeling salty (this is my granddaughter Tina's word, and I will trust her that the usage is correct, as I truly have no idea what it means to feel 'salty') that his Fortnite youtube channel has fewer hits than my book blog, so he tricked me into reading this book. He knows that I love Cormac McCarthy (see here), and he knows that I love giving his uncle (my son, the wayward genius) a hard time about seeing movies without reading the books first (see here). So he comes to me with a story about how this book is getting made into a movie and how it's McCarthy's best and whatnot, so I dive right in. And things started out pretty great. After about 50 pages I had virtually doubled my vocabulary and was waxing rapturous about his prose. If I could write just one McCarthyist sentence in my life, it would make up for all the times I said 'I shit you not' because I couldn't think of any better way to convey emphasis.

But Jackson also knows that I can't stand reading scenes of gory violence. And the more I read this book, the grizzlier it got. I should have been expecting it, but it blindsided me. It was like going to see Mary Poppins, but you accidentally go in the wrong theater and watch Requiem for a Dream. I understand now why the movie has been ten years in the making - they must have run out of fake blood! It was so intense that I found myself thinking things like, "Well, they killed them with clubs instead of axes this time, so that's not so bad," and "At least they were dead before they scalped them - that was humane." These are not things I want to think, and no amount of exquisitely crafted prose could remove those images from mind as I was trying to sleep. It was then that I realized that I had been, as they say, punked.

So I did the only thing I could do - and just what any character in this book would have done - I got revenge. I went over to Rachel's house around 9:00 on Saturday morning, and as expected, Jackson was a long way from waking up for the day, so I had plenty of time. While she made coffee, I excused myself to the bathroom. Once in there, I unwrapped a bullion cube (beef, to really make my point), unscrewed the shower head, put the cube inside the shower head, and then reattached it. Then I enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee with my daughter, who remarked on what a good mood I seemed to be in. Around 10:30 or so, we hear something stirring upstairs, and eventually, the shower turns on. It couldn't have been more than 15 seconds later that Jackson started screaming for his mother. But here's the genius of the plan - by the time she got up there to hear his panicked ranting about soup coming out the shower, all the evidence had dissolved - literally - and the shower was functioning normally. I expressed my sympathy and concern, and then somewhat loudly suggested that Rachel inspect his room to make sure there weren't any hallucinatory drugs of any kind. He didn't know what to think. One point for Grandpa!


  1. I once thought to use a comparison to Cormac McCarthy for one of my books, the only "Western" I've written, Soul of the Desert. The problem is the book you just reviewed. I mean, it's just...well, it's not something I could stomach. It's not that his other work is light-hearted, but egads! Anyway, I stuck with Little House on the Prairie for a comparison and that's not really right either, but it beats gore and scalpings. I think I'd rather read beheadings than scalping. Not that I really want to read either. I did thoroughly enjoy the bullion. That is my kind of prose. You're a good writer without trying to be McCarthy.

    1. Thanks Maria. I'm a fan of Elmore Leonard's westerns - maybe that's a more apt comparison...

  2. So I immediately thought that Leonard's books were set a little too far back in time with a little too much focus on the whole stereotypical cowboy...but in looking, I see that not only did he write Westerns, he also wrote Proto (and other books in that series). I haven't read Pronto, but the blurb mentions La Costa Nostra, which I researched for Soul of the Desert. Even if it isn't a good comparison I loved the blurb. So now I'll have to set about finding it to read it. (It's a tad expensive for an older book, but my library might have it!) I suppose since he isn't likely to write any additional similar books they can capitalize on those that exist. :) Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Dude xD dude. Did you actually do this xD I am laughing out loud. OMG that is the best prank ever and I should totally not forget about it. Thanks for cheering me up tonight xD xD

  4. Great to-the-point review AND an excellent tip to get back at someone. :D

  5. Oh my gosh! This sounds far too gory for me. Great review, though! Side note, I read your bio for this blog and absolutely love the entire concept surrounding it!