Things I Should Have Read, Update

I finished Blood Meridian about two weeks ago.

The book was recommended by a number of my colleagues, each of whom said something to the effect of “it’s really violent. Just your thing.”


Anyway, yes, very violent. A few intriguing moments in there–the repositioning of the Western genre (about which I know precisely bupkis, but I could recognize those moments anyway) in particular. The comma splices and the apostrophe use was irritating to a degree I never imagined possible; I read freshman compositions for a living, and my students’ papers don’t bother me as much as McCarthy’s choices did. I found myself highlighting the idiosyncratic apostrophe use.

So, I’m a pretty lousy Americanist, I know, so take whatever I say here for what it is worth. The book was worth the read for a curiosity factor. The violence was not as overwhelming as I had imagined, though fairly explicit in its detail. I suppose what bothers me about the violence is that much of it was overblown. I didn’t read it with any ideas about McCarthy “reflecting the true past” or any such nonsense, so my problem isn’t so much that it was unrealistic–it just felt forced at times. Oops, we’ve gone three pages–we need another scene in which bodies are strung up or otherwise brutalized.

That said, I was intrigued by the geographical space, in large part because it required some research out of me. When McCarthy first mentioned riding to Mexico, I thought “south.” Upon arriving in Comanche territory, it became clear to me that my assumptions about geography were wrong; I had to reposition my mental map to this. Challenging, but quite fun.

So, the list is down by one.


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