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Its opening pages offer a summary of the kid’s early life in the Tennessee hills, his flight to Texas in 1848, and his recruitment by a troop of filibusters, most of whom are slaughtered by a force of Comanche as their expedition makes its way into Mexico.The kid then joins up with Captain John Joel Glanton’s band of scalp hunters, who have a contract to provide the Mexicans with the hair of Apache raiders preying on isolated borderland villages and towns.In point of fact, I love epics, and, though the genre is most often associated with works of antiquity, I count at least two modern novels as epics, and number them among my ten all-time favorite reads, the first being Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and the latter of the two being Mitchell Smith’s Stone City.
My problem with the violence is that its cumulative effect is to first inure the reader, and then ultimately to bore them, numbing them with the fugue-like repetition of descriptive passages detailing scalpings, hangings, and eviscerations, one after another.
Much like Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho or Marquis De Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinism, the horror is not delivered with the irregularity that gives a suspenseful tale of terror its power to shock.
It must also be said that, regardless of what one thinks of the man’s writing, Mc Carthy belongs to a small corpus of postmodern stylists who have eschewed all of the blandishments of fame, shunning the limelight and remaining publicly indifferent to all the encomiums showered on his work.
On the continuum where authors can be plotted, from the most reclusive to the most shamelessly fame-mongering, Cormac Mc Carthy could perhaps best be contextually situated somewhere between J. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon (the latter of whom did actually lent his voice to an episode of The Simpsons, something it would be unfathomable to imagine Mc Carthy doing).
Characters can work as symbols, but they must first stand inspection as flesh and blood creatures, as did, for instance Captain Ahab or Mr.
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Kurtz, in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick or in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, respectively.
Both men are violent, and arguably mad, but the creators of Ahab and Kurtz ably show, through slowly unfurling, revelatory passages, how these men arrived at their barbarized states.
Dorson, meanwhile, undercuts his own argument and inadvertently bolsters mine, when he writes, “There is no ‘atavistic egg,’ neither divine nor secular, that can explain or legitimate [the Judge’s] existence.
According to Dana Phillips: “Throughout most of his career, which began in the mid-1960s, Mc Carthy had worked and published in obscurity.
Promotional campaigns meant little to him; he refused the interviews, personal appearances, and academic sinecures that might have made his name more widely known sooner.