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review 2015-10-09 00:00
Blood Meridian
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy I have tried multiple times to get thru this long winded, pretentious, repetitive and boring "masterpiece of American literature." I thought I was defective for not loving it (since it got a zillion 5 star reviews), but nope...I hate it and am finally at peace with my judgment.
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text 2015-07-27 15:12
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy

Turns out I'm not up for this much violence!

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review 2015-02-23 07:09
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy

There is no way to encompass this book in a few pithy phrases. I'll be thinking about this one for some time.

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review 2014-09-09 19:35
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West - Cormac McCarthy I'm gunna be harsh. Why not? McCarthy is. I novel is hanged with the fancy rope so many other reviewers extravagantly embroider for it: monotony, flatness, and one-dimensionality. Hold on there illiterate scum, you say, what about all that blood dripping symbolism (and bold historical perspective). But by the time you'll be done saying that (I'm politely pausing, in fact, to let you finish -- I'm more considerate than McCarthy), your scalp will've been ripped from your head and stuffed, clotted with blood, back in your mouth to choke on until your eyes pop from their sockets like boated exploding mules, shoved from dark, high, mist enshrouded ledges, strewn with coyote bones. Out of time. That is all.
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review 2014-04-22 12:06
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy

4/4 - I've read 23 pages and have come to the conclusion that I need to start again in order to comprehend this better and so I can start a glossary. I've already come across enough unfamiliar words in the 23 pages that I've read that I can't remember them all - I need to write them down. Here is a sampling from the first chapter: the Leonids; the Dipper stove; husbandman; flaboat; boatswain; they disembark aboard a lighter; working for day wages and found; parricide; pesthouse; walleyed; teamster; batboard jakes; codified; shellalegh; dramshop; hackamore; Venga, Hay un caballero aqui (in Spanish). Looking at the list from just the first chapter, I'm expecting to be doing a lot of research to aid in my comprehension of the story.

The language takes a little getting used to. The complete lack of speech marks makes it hard to know whether you're reading dialogue or thoughts or general movements by the characters. The near complete lack of commas sometimes makes it hard to follow a sentence (kind of like trying to read a badly edited self-published book, except I know that's not the case with Cormac McCarthy). I'm not sure why an author would choose to leave so much everyday punctuation out, unless it's a sign of when the book was set and that was common punctuation for the mid 1800s. After going back and reading the first 23 pages a second time I definitely felt I got a better understanding of what was happening, if not why.

A lot of the behaviour of the main character, The Boy, who is 16, mystifies me. I have no idea why he would decide the best course of action after being told to move aside to let another man past (on a boardwalk path surrounded by boot-sucking mud) was to kick him in the face, starting a brawl between the two men which only ended when a third man clubbed The Boy into unconsciousness. Even more mystifying to me is their behaviour the next morning, after they both wake up from a night spent sleeping in the mud. The other man, Toadvine, seems to have had some kind of disagreement with a man named Sidney, who is sleeping in a nearby hotel (or whatever they were called). Toadvine and The Boy decide, through completely non-verbal mutual agreement that The Boy is going to help Toadvine get retribution on Sidney. Together they go up to Sidney's room and set fire to his door. Sidney comes out to see what's going on and is viciously kicked in the head by both men and eye-gouged by Toadvine. The pair leave Sidney on floor with the fire still burning, now encompassing not just the door but the wall as well. As they go back down the stairs the owner swears at Toadvine (probably because his hotel's on fire), they both kick him in the head on their way past. As they leave the building it's clear the hotel's going to burn to the ground (effective firefighting was pretty rare in those days). Toadvine and The Boy then go their separate ways and Toadvine hasn't been mentioned since. I do not understand why The Boy would do anything with Toadvine after their fight. Toadvine's chanting of "Kill, kill, kill." is pretty menacing and ominous but you're willing to help him commit a little arson (and possibly murder, depending on whether Sidney and the owner got out in time) despite the obvious animosity (no matter the lack of reasons for it) between the two of you? That makes no sense to me. Is this because I'm a girl or because we all live in a different time and can't understand the motives of people from the past? To be continued...

 

7/4 - I'm enjoying the story. I have no problem with the violence, blood and gore, in fact I like a good bit of violence and sometimes see sense in it where others wouldn't. On the other hand the language, words, style are confounding me. If this was a SPA romance or erotica I would be transcribing the page long sentences as examples of why the book is dreadful and not one I would recommend. I would also have DNFd it by now. But this is Cormac McCarthy, he's reputed to be a fabulous writer and he made a conscious decision to write those page long sentences. That must mean that an atrocious lack of what is considered correct grammar is okay when it's done by a best-selling author. Right? Well, I'm not so sure about that. I'm not sure whether it speaks of literary genius or, as another reviewer Jonathan, put it literary gimmickry. As I am still enjoying the plot and managing to continue to follow the language I will persevere, but I'm pretty sure I won't be attempting any other of his novels if they are filled with this style of writing. It's just not my cup of tea (or any other beverage of any kind). To be continued...

 

9/4 - Vandiemenlander? That's Tasmanian to you and me. How on earth (and also why) did a Tasmanian get to North America? Most Vandiemenlanders were recently rehoused criminals from England and the ones that weren't were settlers just scraping by, making a living from the land. Where would he get the money to pay for passage to America? A strange, and possibly unlikely, addition to the story. To be continued...

Later - The frequent use of Spanish without any hope of a translation is just adding to the ever-growing pile of hay on that camel's back. I don't speak any Spanish, not any at all (except muchos gracias). It's just not fair *stamps foot in frustration* to use a foreign language in an English language book without either repeating the phrases in English or having a glossary. How can McCarthy expect his readers to get the full benefit of his story if not all of them can read all of the dialogue? It's not like it's single words either, they're whole sentences, which makes it hard (impossible) to guess what's being said from the context.

Moving on from the foreign language problems to sentences whose words I can read with ease, but whose meaning I still can't make heads or tails of: "He passed and so passed all into the problematical destruction of darkness." *In a small, slightly embarrassed voice* What does that mean? I'm not sure if the darkness is destructive or if the darkness is being destroyed. To be continued...
P.S. Great death scene at the campfire!! Very evocative and memorable. To be continued...

10/4 - I've just read on Wikipedia's Blood Meridian page that it's considered McCarthy's masterpiece. That scares me, because if the language in this is difficult, I'm never going to manage any of his lesser works where I'll likely get the same language with a less interesting plot. Has anyone else heard the urban legend that if you listen to The Beatles' White Album backwards there are satanic messages in the lyrics? Well, while I'm reading Blood Meridian I keep getting subliminal messages, but they're not telling me to kill, they're telling me to DNF because life is too short and I have better books waiting for me. Let's do a poll! Hands up if you think I should listen to the subliminal messages. Okay, now hands up if you think I should just ignore them. Thanks, I'll take your opinions into consideration. To be continued...

 

22/4 - *sigh* This just stopped being worth my time. I really wasn't enjoying the language and as I skimmed a couple of other reviews I saw that there were comments about the book not really going anywhere plotwise (didn't really encourage me to persevere with the book despite my difficulties with the language).  Sorry Mr McCarthy, it looks like your books are going to be DNF followed by numerous NFMs (not for me).

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