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Monday, November 23, 2009

"Blood Meridian," by Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy writes some dark and twisted stories.  "Blood Meridian" has to be the darkest and most twisted of them all.

Follows the adventures of "the kid" and "the judge" over the course of their marauding and terrorizing reign through the western frontier of the 19th century.  They have been contracted to protect the different Mexican settlements from Apache war parties, and they do so with an iron fist.  Since they are paid by the scalp, they make no differentiation between indian tribes that are peaceful or those that are warlike, and there are several massacres of entire villages.  Some of the descriptions are the bloodiest and most brutal that I have ever read.

Underlying all of that murder and violence is the theme that McCarthy presents of redemption and justice.  "The Judge" is basically evil incarnate, and there are few protagonists in the history of literature as chilling as this character.  "The Kid" is something slightly more human, and he makes some effort near the end to make amends for all of the "meanness" that he has been involved in. 

Like all of McCarthy's work, the prose is set in a very flowing and non-punctuated style.  Sentences can run on for half a page or longer.  This can be distracting at times, but the writing is so beautiful that it makes up for it.  I did find myself having to re-read certain sections.  This is not an easy book, but it is a rewarding one. 

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