when a blind man sees

Do you ever close a book and wonder what the hell just happened? How can a book that is a mere 250 pages (perhaps less) leave so much unease, so much to ponder? That, my friend, is the brilliance of Cormac McCarthy. It is why I resolved to now add the Border Trilogy to my reading lists. McCarthy has a unique hold over my imagination. Damn, what I wouldn’t do to have a throw down of drinks with him some autumn night while the porch swing squeaks and a dog somewhere welcomes the rising of the moon. Yes, I do believe that would be magic….

Here is the brief summation I posted over at Goodreads:

When the final sentence was read, read again, read once more – I closed the book reluctantly knowing that McCarthy had presented me with a bit of knowledge yet to be absorbed.

What amazes me about McCarthy’s style is his ability to create a story in which one is immersed in the lives of the characters he presents without us really needing to know much more than the present circumstance. Their voices are important, but we never really care about them – that is not the point. Case in point in “Outer Dark” I followed Rinthy and Culla, but only because they were the portals into the outer dark. I never root for a McCarthy character to live or die – I just wish to see how their story concludes.

Many have called this Southern Gothic or Gothic, but for me it cannot be labeled as such since it could be as easily backwoods Appalachia today, minus the hangings and tinker. McCarthy’s minimal text does not mean minimal context – he has so much going on in this story that the mind still whirls.

Bottom line – if I were a biblical scholar (or even, just a bible reader) I do believe that this parable would hit me between the eyes. That said, the blind man certainly wants us to know one thing – he sees more than most of us.

The only thing I would add to that is the amazing parallel of writing style to the other book I picked up again today, Breton’s, “Nadja”. Granted, McCarthy is not writing as a surrealist, but this book certainly had that feel to it as we bounced about the story – characters introduced without warning and then reappearing without seeing the door open. This story was especially brilliant – a patchwork quilt whose patternĀ seemed seamless, yet there was a common thread in the end.

One thing I shall posit in order to help form a more cohesive thought in the future — does McCarthy use roads as a tool to tell a story. It seems that in each book read thus far, the road offers the story a mode of transport – no direction is ever a given, and often, a back road or a side road has to be taken in order to forge on, even if it leads to peril….



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  1. This review reminds me of the movie ‘Days of Heaven’. It’s my wife’s favorite film and she says it’s not about people but about “a sense of place” – about finding that special moment in a place that feels like home. And to me the story isn’t about people either, but society. Forces are in place that determine certain outcomes. I really need to read some McCarthy soon. Couldn’t find you on goodreads…

    • Mark – just IMDB film, looks like I need to find this and watch, thank you. I was going to post my Goodreads link, but the site is down for a couple of hours – will try to find you tomorrow or email a link – would love to see what you have on the shelf since I admire your reading lists! As for McCarthy – I am a bit curious if he uses ‘road’ as a tool in all of his books. I’m not fond of digital – but just discovered I may be able to find his play that way via the library for free– stay tuned, I’m certain I will blog about it (the rest, I hope to find used).

  2. Artful review.


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