Why You Should Read Cormac McCarthy

If you're a horror fan, and you're not reading Cormac McCarthy, you're missing out. Why? Because McCarthy's Blood Meridian is up there as just about the best horror novel (not book: novel) of all time, and his Child of God is also very good.

Now, horror stories are a different matter. Indeed, I agree with David G. Hartwell in his introduction to The Dark Descent, that the short story is the main artistic medium for horror, and that the horror novel is, at best, an experimental and usually flawed form. But if you're willing to venture outside the genre itself, and go into mainstream/literary fiction, you'll find that Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian is successful not only as profoundly disturbing horror fiction, but also as a completely realized novel.

I plan to write more in this space about Cormac McCarthy, but for right now, let me tease your interest with a sample quotation from Blood Meridian. This is from a scene of people found murdered in a church, in an arid town in northern Mexico:

There were no pews in the church and the stone floor was heaped with the scalped and naked and partly eaten bodies of some forty souls who'd barricaded themselves in this house of God against the heathen . . . The murdered lay in a great pool of their communal blood. It had set up into a sort of pudding crossed everywhere with the tracks of wolves or dogs and along the edges it had dried and cracked into a burgundy ceramic. Blood lay in dark tongues on the floor and blood grouted the flagstones and ran in the vestiblue where the stones were cupped from the feet of the faithful and their fathers before them and it had threaded its way down the steps and dripped from the stones among the dark red tracks of the scavengers.
(More to follow.)

Copyright © Fiona Webster 1996

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