Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blood Meridian Thoughts

Reading Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian now, as my brother has long suggested I do. The poetry of violence. It's a catalogue of horrors, a litany of atrocities. A gruesome masterpiece. I understand the comparisons to Moby Dick and The Iliad.

A near-total absence the interiors of people's minds and emotions, just a procession of actions that astonish the reader with their brutality, drawn with the most beautiful visual descriptions I've ever read on a sustained level in a novel. Not just visual, either. A mule that falls off a cliff is "absolved of memory in any living thing." Stuff like that.

Sometimes the novel strikes me as an effort to shock, and then when I get done recoiling I realize again that nothing that he's thought up hasn't actually happened. Not that he found every grotesque act in the copious research he did; just that nothing we can conceive of doing to one other hasn't been done.