Blood Meridian- Cormac McCarthy   Leave a comment

I came to Blood Meridian knowing nothing about it, apart from it being on the list of ‘1001 books to read before you die’.

I listened to an audiobook version, which I believed helped, as the text apparently omits speech marks and apostrophes.

The novel begins with a description of ‘the kid’, a troublesome teen, who runs away from home and ends up on his own through the plains of. Eastern Texas. From the very beginning, the book is stark, and raw. We are not given much insight to the boys feelings, only the actions and dialogue are reported. The novel continues in this vien, giving the feeling of a historical account, as much as a novel. I later discovered that all of the detail in the novel is historically accurate, so can only presume this technique was deliberate.

In time the boy teams up with the Glanton Gang, which ends up being led by the mysterious Judge Holden. The adventures of the gang are bloody and manic. The members of the gang viscous and without any morals or remorse. The gang moves from killing indians to killing any innocent person who crosses their path. Finally, they take control of a ferry, and rob anyone wishing to cross, until they accumulate a large amount of money. After they are attacked by the locals, the remaining gang members wander in the desert and attack each other.

The kid survives although wounded, after refusing to kill the judge. He appears in the kids jail cell, after telling officials the kids was solely responsible for destroying the gang. Then Holden disappears.

Years later, the kid is now the man, and he meets the judge in a bar. The man goes to an outhouse and is welcomed in by the Judge and presumably killed, although, for the first time, the details are missing. Afterwards, men are seen to be horrified at the remains, another first, as no one has commented on carnage before. Afterwards the Judge is seen dancing in the bar, and the book claims that he never sleeps and he never dies.

I found the violence in the book shocking, all the more so by its stark descriptions and late of comment in the horror of it all.

There were interesting discussions between the gang leaders, mostly led by the Judge on the nature of God, and of the history of things.

The ending is a puzzle, it is not explicitly stated that the Judge kills the boy, but he is never mentioned again. I believe it was a deliberate decision not to describe the corpse afterwards and to just use the comments of the bystanders, as a contrast to all of the previous violence.

I cant say i enjoyed the book, it is disturbing, and challenging, but nor can i say i was not moved by it- which ultimately is the mark of a great novel, in my opinion. The book has stayed with me. I felt i had genuinely heard and touched history when reading the novel, even though i was aware it was fiction. It felt genuine, probably due to the clean reporting style.

 

 

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Posted June 23, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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