Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is an elusive and enigmatic figure, and his writing is nearly as confounding as his persona. Blood Meridian is the most challenging of McCarthy’s works I’ve come across to date, both in terms of content and language. His prose is peppered with archaic language, odd speech patterns and biblical allusion. Somewhat typical of McCarthy, this Western narrative lacks much convention punctuation, most notably quotation marks.
Though often sparse in presentation, the novel is a somewhat immersive experience. Scenes focusing on the Judge Holden character especially are utterly compelling. The book’s reputation for density and difficulty is compounded by the challenging subject matter. Without revealing details, I will say that this is the most graphically violent book I’ve ever read. Only one other work of fiction has made me as uncomfortable as this.
I would venture to say that McCarthy has reinvented the Western genre in much the same way Ken Follett opened our eyes with his take on historical fiction in ’Pillars Of The Earth’ and ‘World Without End’. McCarthy has presented the gritty details, and callous disregard for humanity so prevalent in early ages, without resorting to shock for shock value.
The ambiguity of so much of the novel, as well as the polarizing nature of the prose, led to this being one of the best Liquorature selections to date in terms of discussion.
I dare you, in all of fiction, to find a more awe-inspiring villain than the Judge.