Friday, February 20, 2009

Blood Meridian

Just finished Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. I expect to be mulling it over for some time. While I was reading it, though, I found this interesting article/interview with McCarthy, in which he makes the following comment:

The ugly fact is books are made out of books... The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written.

What books is Blood Meridian made out of? Well, to get a feel for this novel, imagine:

... if the boys from Lord of the Flies, after killing Simon and Piggy, killed Ralph, too, found a ship, and sailed to the American southwest and continued their rampage there.

... if Huck Finn fled his abusive father and found not a compassionate and resourceful runaway slave but a felon with a brand on his forehead and missing ears, and after beating the shit out of each other, they teamed up to burn down a hotel.

... if Vladimir and Estragon finally stopped waiting and went to town and found Godot’s head floating in a jar of mescal.

... if the Iliad's recurrent slaughter and the Odyssey's aimless wandering were combined in a single epic.

... if Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise went on the road riding horses and carrying huge pistols and taking scalps as souvenirs.

... if Lear and his fool took not to the heath but to a bonestrewn desert wearing robes of meat and alternating between legalistic sweet-talk and murder.

The surprising thing is how funny this novel also manages to be.

1 comment:

meyermeyer said...

Wait, wait, wait. Can I add some more?

... if Dante and Virgil had, after questioning each denizen of hell, beat the living shit out of them, scalped them and made them crawl across the burning wasteland of hell and then, just before reaching the end of hell, turned and did the same to each other.

... if Joe Christmas somehow met Benji and they together went to Major de Spain's house and not only burned the barn down but killed, skinned and ate his animals.

Never mind. Yours are too good. I just had those two.

But on that note, having taught Gabriel's Story first and then reading Blood Meridian, I see very much where Durham got his characters. I guess books are made out of books.