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 Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

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PostSubject: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy   Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:58 am

This is a book that I am pretty sure many of you will never read. It is not for all tastes. I found it stunning, as I have for every other McCarthy book I have read because of his fantastic prose, but there are plenty of others who have found this book repulsive and unredeemable.

It is set in the mid-1800's, in the desert area on the US-Mexican border. The main character is a 14-year-old from Tennessee known only as the "kid", who falls in with a band of killers who, under commission from local governments on both sides of the border, kill Apaches and take their scalps (though the book is fiction, this is something that actually happened). One of the leaders of this band is someone named Judge Holden, a seven-foot, completely hairless giant whose psychotic nature is matched by his incredible intelligence and eloquence. The violence in the novel is extremely graphic, very disturbing, and unrelenting. Not only Apache warriors but entire villages, including US and Mexican towns, are completely wiped out by these marauders. Whenever they ride in to collect their commissions the town is held hostage by this band for days while they revel in drunken violence and rape. Everything is left shattered in their wake. Throughout the "kid" tries to hold on to some vestige of restraint and honor, resisting the Judge who has taken a special interest in him.

Near the end this band of killers is attacked by a large force of Yuma warriors and mostly wiped out. Among the few survivors are the kid and the Judge, who end up going their separate ways. Years go by, and the kid, now a man, meets up with the Judge again, and the ending is disturbing and very ambiguous.

As I said, this is not for all tastes. But for me, Cormac McCarthy's prose is nothing short of incredible. He has written a few other novels, including No Country for Old Men and The Road, which have been made into movies. I believe McCarthy is one of the few contemporary authors today who will be remembered and read 50 or 100 years from now. If you think this book may interest you, just be warned that the violence is ugly and not romanticized in any way. Having said that, I still recommend anything by this author.

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