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Cormac McCarthy – Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

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Vintage | 352 pages | ISBN: 0679728759 | Edition – 1992 | PDF | 1.5 MB

Already you could see through the dust on the ponies’ hides the painted chevrons and the hands and rising suns and birds and fish of every device like the shade of old work through sizing on a canvas and now too you could hear above the pounding of the unshod hooves the piping of the quena, flutes made from human bones, and some among the company had begun to saw back on their mounts and some to mill in confusion when up from the offside of those ponies there rose a fabled horde of mounted lancers and archers bearing shields bedight with bits of broken mirrorglass that cast a thousand unpieced suns against the eyes of their enemies.

One of our great heroes here at The Last Bastion, novelist supreme, Mr. Cormac McCarthy, with his finest oeuvre, the magnificently dark and darkly magnificent “Blood Meridian”.

The bad news (probably!) is that a movie of this great book is in the works, slated for a 2009 release, with Ridley Scott at the helm!

Man, we fucking hated what those Coen creeps did to McCarthy’s 2005 novel “No Country for Old Men” – not Cormac’s finest work, but still better than 99% of the garbage out there (shit that critics drool about such as the atrocious Nick Hornby et al).

The one-trick pony Coenys turned the novel into “Texmex Terminator”!

Furthermore, to add insult to injury, these Coen freaks had the temerity to not even thank Cormac when they accepted their ill-gotten Academy Awards.

Now, don’t get me started on what a masterpiece of cinema Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There will be Blood” is, and the insanity of “There will be Blood” not having swept all awards before it that night (aside from female acting awards, of course, as there is no significant female character – no bad thing, in my view)! I’ve already written in depth about that great work before! And here she be; there-will-be-magnificence

Meanwhile, back on topic!

Glanton’s eyes in their dark sockets were burning centroids of murder and he and his haggard riders stared balefully at the kid as if he were no part of them for all they were so like in wretchedness of circumstance.


One of the finest prose stylists working in the English language today, (or arguably at any time) McCarthy brings all his skill to bear on this dark, bloody tale set in the final days of the Indian wars.

The tale concerns itself with a teenage runaway known as “the kid” and his experiences with the Glanton gang, a historical group of scalp hunters who massacred Indians and others in the US/Mexico border area during 1849 and 1850.

The principal antagonist is the shocking and vividly portrayed ‘Judge Holden’, a physical manifestation of pure malevolence. This character is a physically enormous, strange, base, perverted, intelligent man, utterly devoid of human empathy, utterly devoted to violence and conflict, who seems to exist outside natural laws, morality and even time itself.

The novel famously has a most ambiguous ending which has caused much debate.

It is a novel alive with the unbearable, unending violence that infested the daily life of people the ilk of the protagonists, in hotbeds of conflict like the United States–Mexico borderlands, in the middle of a century of great turmoil, imperialism, greed, injustice, suffering and pain.

Blood Meridian is generally historically accurate in its depiction of this fucked up time and place and includes numerous references to actual contemporary occurrences. Much of the novel is actually based on real Glanton gang member Samuel Chamberlain’s book My Confession.

In the neuter austerity of that terrain all phenomena were bequeathed a strange equality and no one thing nor spider nor stone nor blade of grass could put forth claim to precedence.

I still remember the joy I had reading – and once finished, immediately rereading! – this meisterwerk many, many years ago, over a few nights, well into the wee small hours, with copious amounts of Jameson whisky at hand to keep company!!

This is a pure masterpiece of vivid, real, extended poetry which dares to delve inside the rotten soul of America, the dark soul of man.

One of the greatest – if not the greatest – novel of recent times!

He poured the tumbler full. Drink up, he said. The world goes on. We have dancing nightly and this night is no exception.

In the entire range of American literature, only Moby-Dick bears comparison to Blood Meridian. Both are epic in scope, cosmically resonant, obsessed with open space and with language, exploring vast uncharted distances with a fanatically patient minuteness. Both manifest a sublime visionary power that is matched only by still more ferocious irony. Both savagely explode the American dream of manifest destiny, of racial domination and endless imperial expansion. But if anything, McCarthy writes with a yet more terrible clarity than does Melville.

—Steven Shaviro, “A Reading of Blood Meridian”

This is a perverse, picaresque Western about bounty hunters for Indian scalps near the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s – a ragged caravan of indiscriminate killers led by an unforgettable human monster called “The Judge.”

Imagine the imagery of Sam Peckinpah and Heironymus Bosch as written by William Faulkner, and you’ll have just an inkling of this novel’s power. From the opening scenes about a 14-year-old Tennessee boy who joins the band of hunters to the extraordinary, mythic ending, this is an American classic about extreme violence.

Here she be;

April 20, 2008 Posted by | Cormac McCarthy, OTHER_BOOK, OTHER_LITERATURE, _OTHER | Leave a comment