Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy

Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy

Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy

Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy

Synopsis

A revised edition of a volume praised as the best handbook for an understanding of McCarthy's great works.

Excerpt

In his 1974 New Yorker review of Cormac McCarthy's third novel, Child of God, Robert Coles wrote, "Cormac McCarthy is a forty-year-old American novelist who lives in the high country of Tennessee. His first and second novels, The Orchard Keeper and Outer Dark, earned him awards and fellowships. His Child of God …will further enhance his reputation…. Mr. McCarthy might easily have obtained a fortune with this novel, but he was not intent upon a psychiatrist's best-seller, and one begins to wonder whether he must reach many Americans through the long, circuitous route Faulkner took: a limited recognition here, increasing response from Europeans to his strange and brooding novels, and only later the broader acknowledgment of his own countrymen" ("The Stranger" 87). Coles's question was an appropriate one and was still worth considering twenty years later, when we first compiled this collection, even though McCarthy's time of recognition finally seemed to be at hand. From the publication of The Orchard Keeper in 1965 up to the arrival of All the Pretty Horses in 1992, McCarthy worked largely in obscurity. Although published by a prestigious company, Random House, the books before All the Pretty Horses sold poorly, despite often impressive, not to say impassioned, reviews. First examined primarily as a southern writer--Orville Prescott's New York Times review of The Orchard Keeper, for example, was entitled "Still Another Disciple of William Faulkner"-- McCarthy came to confound those who attempted thus to categorize him. While he employed southern locales and folkways, his stories reverberated beyond them. His subsequent movement from the hills and towns of Tennessee in his first four novels to the borderlands and deserts of the Southwest in the next two further challenged any easy assumptions previously made. In addition, McCarthy's adamant refusal to publicize either himself or his work--as Madison Smartt Bell wittily put it, "[H]e shunned publicity so effectively that he wasn't even famous for it" ("The Man Who Understood . . .

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