Micro Review: Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West — Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian

I chose Blood Meridian as my introductory read to McCarthy’s legendary prose because it’s considered by most to be his masterpiece. I also chose it under the assumption that it would be somehow less intense than The Road; which I’ve not read, but have experienced in film. After having emerged from Blood Meridian I can’t imagine how The Road, or any other substantive work, could be more intense. McCarthy’s writing, which I’d describe as a stream-of-conscience, minimalist style akin to Hemingway’s but completely his own, is a revelation to me. It forces the reader to proceed slowly and carefully but doesn’t burden with obtrusive detail. It’s sparse and meaningful and brutal.

The story follows a nameless character and his exploits with an infamous band of marauders as they wander the Texas border hunting for scalps and eventually spiral into complete insanity. On the surface Blood Meridian is an exposé on the violence of the Old West. However, it transcends the Western genre and gives the reader a glimpse of what it must have been like under Kurtz’ reign on the Congo. It will probably be some time before I’ll come to any conclusions as to the full meaning behind much of this book. I’ll definitely be reading Blood Meridian again, though I can’t recommend it to everyone — it’s a challenging read, both in its intense brutality and vast ambiguousness. You won’t be the same after having read it. If that sounds enjoyable to you, Blood Meridian should be at the top of your list. I have to say that it’s the most exciting thing I’ve read as of late and I’m sad that I’ve just now come across it.

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