Reading Cormac McCarthy

Reading Cormac McCarthy

Reading Cormac McCarthy

Reading Cormac McCarthy

Excerpt

The first time I heard of Cormac McCarthy was in 1994. I was in Atlanta, Georgia, on the verge of starting classes for a master’s degree in English at Georgia State University. I was sitting in the apartment of my friend and mentor Austin Hummell. Austin and I had met as students at the University of Maine—I was an undergraduate, he was earning a master’s degree in English. Our paths diverged for several years, until I asked Austin to write me a recommendation. I was granted conditional enrollment. Describing my undergraduate performance, Austin wrote something to the effect of—like all poets my grades were “uneven.”

Soon after I got to Atlanta, Austin had organized a writers’ conference at which Jorie Graham was one of the speakers. This was just before Graham won the Pulitzer Prize. In between conference events, I was at Austin’s apartment with Graham. During our talk, she pulled out a copy of McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and read the passage about the Comanche attack.

I had never heard anything like it.

The writing was powerful—stripped down, epic, vivid, brutal, and beautiful all at the same time. I have been reading, rereading, studying, teaching, and enjoying McCarthy’s works ever since.

Over the last fifteen years, McCarthy has become a more recognizable presence in American and world literature. His authorial voice stretches and pulls the genre of the American novel into new territory— sometimes with a single sentence. He published his first novel, The Orchard Keeper, in 1965. But until the early twenty-first century, he has been a relatively obscure American author. The slow rise of his reputation is due, in part, to his legendary reclusiveness. He has granted a . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.