August 16, 2011

Sitzbook: "Blood Meridian"

I've been reading like a madman this last week: 4 books in 3 days, or 3 books in 2 days, or any other numerical comparison you'd like. As a result, I've gotten behind on a few other things, but I wanted to catch up a bit on Sitzbook with a quick quote from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. I borrowed this book from Lucy and she was right--the writing is excellent, although significantly denser than the only other book of his I've read, The Road. This one is also disturbingly violent and racist in a few sections, since it follows a group of people who go to Mexico to kill Indians in the 1850s. That's not a premise that's going to have a flowery style, I suppose. 

Still, the writing's really good. Check out this, from page 50:

"They rode through regions of particolored stone upthrust in ragged kerfs and shelves of traprock reared in faults and anticlines curved back upon themselves and broken off like stumps of great stone treeboles and stones the lightning had clove open, seeps exploding in steam in some old storm. They rode past trapdykes of brown rock running down the narrow chines of the ridges and onto the plain like the ruins of old walls, such auguries everywhere of the hand of man before man was or any living thing."

Wait: "Huh?" I often tell my students that since English has such a big vocabulary, native speakers often read books or newspaper articles without understanding every word. My students sometimes don't believe me, but indeed, there are at least a half dozen words that I don't recognize in this paragraph, and another three or four I'd be hard pressed to define. In fact, I just realized that I'm not even sure what "Blood Meridian" is supposed to mean. I imagine it's not got anything to do with the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time, but I'm not even certain about that. In any case, I guess the conclusion to this post is that the book is good and I'm a dumbass.

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AnnaLisa said...

I hadn't heard of this one but might look for it eventually. I thought The Road was brilliant--so disturbing but never without hope, an interesting paradox. I read it along with my book club, and we all agreed it was best to keep a dictionary nearby with McCarthy!

Sitzman said...

Hi AnnaLisa!

I actually returned this book to Lucy yesterday and we were talking about it more. The writing IS very good, and a dictionary is great to keep on hand. It's a bit thicker than The Road in almost every sense (I really liked The Road, too).

I commented to Lucy that Blood Meridian reminded me a bit of American Psycho since they both delve into the world of antisocial murderers. The difference, though, is that AP is written more as satire, and it's obviously more fictional, but with BM, it's much more disturbing because people like these scalp hunters probably really did exist and probably did these gruesome things...

Anyhow, just my thoughts.