Monday, June 05, 2006

McCarthy and the Stones

Edith and I were driving to Safeway, listening to the radio. Suddenly, her voice pipes up from the backseat in her little six-year-old style: "Mommy, what that guy sings in that song is really true!" Playing was "You Can't Always Get What You Want," by the Stones. So we talked about what it meant to try to get what you need.

On another topic: reading Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, largely because it was one of the runners-up in that NYTimes Book Review article about the best novel of the last 25 years. And I really like the Border Trilogy. I have to say, Blood Meridian is much less interesting than the Border Trilogy, in part because the protagonist is not as fully developed as John Grady Cole and does not have much personality.

But I love McCarthy's sentences--they just roll on and on, but they use odd syntactical twists to shift and jar the reader. In odd ways, they're Latinate--not with the verb at the end kind of Latinate, but Latinate in that you don't really know where you're going with the sentence until you reach the end. And even then, you don't always know where you are. I like the disorienting quality of them. In fact, I really don't care much about the plot in this particular book at all--mostly it's just this collection of ruffians wandering through Mexico having unpleasant interactions with Mexicans and killing Indians or being killed by Indians. You just move from one cantina to the desert to the plains to another cantina to a campsite, and laced through all of it are gruesome murders and battles. But sometimes, it doesn't much matter where you are in McCarthy's worlds--you're just floating like the rest of the characters--what's interesting is the language.

I don't have my book up here at the computer. Maybe tomorrow I'll write down some of the sentences I like and explain why.

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