Monday, June 1, 2009

Now that's what I call writing: Cormac McCarthy

If ever a book warranted a second reading, it's Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. It's all too easy for a reader to get lost in the Faulkner-on-LSD syntax and vocabulary and overlook the story itself. 

But with a second reading the ornate language becomes familiar and it's easier to enjoy the book (as much as such a bleak, violent book can be enjoyed).

There are so many passages that I love, that border on crazed poetry. Sometimes it will be one line:

He is broken before a frozen god and he will never find his way.

Or whole paragraphs like this:

He rose and turned toward the lights of the town. The tidepools bright as smelterpots among the dark rocks where the phosphorescent seacrabs clambered back. Passing through the salt grass he looked back. The horse had not moved. A ship's light winked in the swells. The colt stood against the horse with its head down and the horse was watching, out there past men's knowing, where the stars are drowning and whales ferry their vast souls through the black and seamless sea.

And here's probably my favorite passage in the book:

And they are dancing, the board floor slamming under the jackboots and the fiddlers grinning hideously over their canted pieces. Towering over them all is the judge and he is naked dancing, his small feet lively and quick and now in doubletime and bowing to the ladies, huge and pale and hairless, like an enormous infant. He never sleeps, he says. He says he'll never die. He bows to the fiddlers and sashays backwards and throws back his head and laughs deep in his throat and he is a great favorite, the judge. He wafts his hat and the lunar dome of his skull passes palely under the lamps and he swings about and takes possession of one of the fiddles and he pirouettes and makes a pass, two passes, dancing and fiddling at once. His feet are light and nimble. He never sleeps. He says that he will never die. He dances in light and shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.

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