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Child of God (1973)
af Cormac McCarthy
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This book had me somewhat disgusted in the early reading, and I considered putting it down..... but at the same time, it was mesmerizing and brilliantly written. I couldn't put it down.
Previous reads from McCarthy were in the Border Trilogy. I thought they were dark, but nothing like this.
Love his writing.
Lester Ballard is one sick puppy.
This is so sick you almost hate to like it. But it is masterfully written and you cannot deny the skill and genius behind it. It is Cormac McCarthy. Don't read it with a full stomach. Enough said.
If you're into necrophilia, serial killers, and general depravity this is the book for you. It's really amazing how such material is described in wonderfully written prose. Atmosphere, language, attitudes are all crystal clear in the sparest of prose. Not one extra word or sentence.
It's not the easiest book to read because of the subject matter which also makes it difficult to call the book "great", but it's .... very good.
It's not as good as The Road, but it's right up there.
“I don’t know. They say he never was right after his daddy killed hisself.”
Lester Ballard. “-a violent, dispossessed man who haunts the hill country of East Tennessee.” And then he finds the dead girl. Shudder. The book takes a pretty dark turn from there. Definitely not for the faint of heart!
Despite the awfulness of Ballard's actions, I found the book nearly impossible to put down! The writing, the style, and the format just kept be engrossed. And 'gross' is an apropos word. I must say again, this book gets pretty nasty and disgusting. Fair warning.
But the carefully cold, sour diction of this book--whose hostility toward the reader surpasses even that of the world toward Lester--does not often let us see beyond its nasty "writing" into moments we can see for themselves, rendered. And such moments, authentic though they feel, do not much help a novel so lacking in human momentum or point.
Falsely accused of rape, Lester Ballard is released from jail, and a trip to the dry-goods store, an errand to the blacksmith, and other incidents are transformed into scenes of the comic and the grotesque.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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Then I declared, also publicly, that that was it. No more depressing McCarthy. But as I was reading some commentaries about No Country for Old Men, I started reading about one of his earlier novels, Child of God.
Now, you know I can’t turn down a really well written novel about depravity. Also, I’m attracted to novels and stories about inbred hillbilly misfits and the like. So yeah, I downloaded Child of God to my Kindle and started reading.
I’m not going to drop any spoilers here. As of right now I am 67% through the book. It’s a fast read. It is fascinating, disgusting, and wonderful. I’m not sure why I say wonderful, but I think it is this…
The thing about McCarthy is that he can use the most beautiful, descriptive, poetic language and then the next sentence makes you want to barf or just retreat from the world. The first of his work that I read — Blood Meridian — I thought it was brilliant, but I think that now 3 books into his work I am starting to really get what the big deal is about him.
I lack the knowledge to really delve into what I think makes this writing good. Maybe in the coming months I will figure it out. It’s not just violent gross bullshit, and I think that points to the question I’ve got: Why is it not just violent gross bullshit? What makes it good? What makes it literary? ( )