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Is this book as good as everyone said it was?


There are threads on two of Cormac MCarthy's novels on this site, Child of God in the 20th Century novels section and The Road in the 21st Century novels section but haven't seen anyone discuss this particular book. I'd be interested in your views when you've finished it as I was very impressed with The Road.

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  • 10 years later...

So I just read this and... 😫


It's the first Cormac McCarthy book I've ever read. I'd heard bad things about him. Specifically that he's rather contrived and tries a little too hard; throws in a ton of alliteration and rhyming schemes and assonance and whatever else he can find. This was sadly true and an appalling reading experience as a result. I really don't intend to make the same mistake again (especially give that this is considered his greatest work).


The story about a young lad joining a gang and riding out west is fairly interesting though the 'kid' never really feels fleshed out as a character. It's the other characters that are more interesting especially Glanton and the judge. I got definite Kurtz vibes from the judge and rather enjoyed the chapter where he stalks the kid like Yul Brynner from Westworld (another possible influence). He is the most intriguing character by far and possibly represents death itself. But those sporadic chapters aside, I sincerely hated reading this book. It was such an unpleasant chore. Sadly, I'm one of those people who generally keeps going once I've started. It wasn't worth it.


The writing style felt so deliberate. Like McCarthy sits down and thinks about how every sentence and paragraph should be constructed, framed, and presented. It's frankly awful and feels like you're reading a film script that's far too descriptive. Imagine reading this paragraph on every page:


..."They saw the governor himself erect and formal within his silkmullioned sulky clatter forth from the double doors of the palace courtyard and they saw one day a pack of vicious looking humans mounted on unshod Indian ponies riding half drunk through the streets, bearded, barbarous, clad in the skins of animals stitched up with thews and armed with weapons of every description, revolvers of enormous weight and bowieknives the size of claymores and short twobarreled rifles with bores you could stick your thumbs in and the trappings of their horses fashioned out of human skin and their bridles woven up from human hair and decorated with human teeth and the riders wearing scapulars or necklaces of dried and blackened human ears and the horses rawlooking and wild in the eye and their teeth bared like feral dogs and riding also in the company a number of half naked savages reeling in the saddle, dangerous, filthy, brutal, the whole like a visitation from some heathen land where they and others like them fed on human flesh."...


And breathe...


Imagine that on virtually every page.


Just terrible. Sometimes I genuinely wonder what people are reading. This was such an awful experience. 


Edited by hux
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