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Blood Meridian [Paperback]

Cormac McCarthy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jan 2010

Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas–Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

‘Cormac McCarthy’s violent lyric masterpiece, Blood Meridian acquires an amoral, apocalyptic dimension through the Miltonic grandeur of the language . . . It is a barbarously poetic odyssey through a hell without purpose’ Irish Times

‘McCarthy’s achievement is to establish a new mythology which is as potent and vivid as that of the movies, yet one which has absolutely the opposite effect . . . He is a great writer’ Independent

‘A bloody and starkly beautiful tale’ Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (1 Jan 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0330510940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330510943
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island. He later went to Chicago, where he worked as an auto mechanic while writing his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. The Orchard Keeper was published by Random House in 1965; McCarthy's editor there was Albert Erskine, William Faulkner's long-time editor. Before publication, McCarthy received a travelling fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which he used to travel to Ireland. In 1966 he also received the Rockefeller Foundation Grant, with which he continued to tour Europe, settling on the island of Ibiza. Here, McCarthy completed revisions of his next novel, Outer Dark. In 1967, McCarthy returned to the United States, moving to Tennessee. Outer Dark was published in 1968, and McCarthy received the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1969. His next novel, Child of God, was published in 1973. From 1974 to 1975, McCarthy worked on the screenplay for a PBS film called The Gardener's Son, which premiered in 1977. A revised version of the screenplay was later published by Ecco Press. In the late 1970s, McCarthy moved to Texas, and in 1979 published his fourth novel, Suttree, a book that had occupied his writing life on and off for twenty years. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, and published his fifth novel, Blood Meridian, in 1985. All the Pretty Horses, the first volume of The Border Trilogy, was published in 1992. It won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was later turned into a feature film. The Stonemason, a play that McCarthy had written in the mid-1970s and subsequently revised, was published by Ecco Press in 1994. Soon thereafter, the second volume of The Border Trilogy, The Crossing, was published with the third volume, Cities of the Plain, following in 1998. McCarthy's next novel, No Country for Old Men, was published in 2005. This was followed in 2006 by a novel in dramatic form, The Sunset Limited, originally performed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago. McCarthy's most recent novel, The Road, was published in 2006 and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Product Description


"McCarthy is a writer to be read, to be admired, and quite honestly--envied."--Ralph Ellison "McCarthy is a born narrator, and his writing has, line by line, the stab of actuality. He is here to stay."--Robert Penn Warren

About the Author

Cormac McCarthy is the author of ten acclaimed novels, most recently The Road. Among his honours are the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
"Blood Meridian", based on real events, charts the bloody adventures of a group of scalp-hunters in the west a century and a half ago.
The extreme (and random) violence of the novel's many gore-infested passages is too much for many stomachs, but then again life in all its raw honesty often is. Ironically for a novel dealing mainly with death and desolation, the finely-honed prose cascades and sparks off the page like a Catherine wheel, literally taking this reader's breath away.
Throughout, the novel is bestrode by the looming figure of Judge Holden, awesome and terrible, all-knowing yet uncaring, omnipotent and omnipresent, an 1850s reworking of the devil.
Read this novel for the stark beauty of its prose, read it for the terror created by the graphic descriptions of the violence man can - and does - commit on man, read it for the surprising amount of dry, laconic humour in the dialogue, read it to discover the Judge, one of literature's great creations. But read it.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A White Desert Sand, Turned Pink and Red 26 Mar 2007
Those with weak stomachs need not open the pages of this book. From beginning to end, this is one long travail of unadulterated gore and brutality. It's major mythic character, the Judge, states that war is divine, that nothing on the earth is beyond his notice or does not require his permission to die. And brutal, violent death occurs with great regularity within this book, every couple of pages or so.

The setting is the West and Mexico around the period of 1847, and the license to kill without discrimination is enabled by the Judge's charter of killing and scalping renegade Indians for bounty. If that was all that this group did, perhaps the reader could make some allowance for the portrayed actions, but it quickly becomes apparent that anyone is a target, regardless of guilt, innocence, age, occupation, race, gender, or prior actions. The book becomes a dark celebration of violence for violence's sake.

The Kid, fourteen years old at the start of this book, is the nominal protagonist, drawn into the Judge's group mainly because he had nothing better to do, without other skills or any ambitions. And he is practically the only ray of light within this whole concoction, as he (once or twice) actually shows a little feeling for persons besides himself.

The Judge is an enigmatic super-something, ageless, multilingual, educated, interested in ecology, and much larger than life. Who (or what) the Judge is is clearly central to this book's theme, but he certainly can stand as an avatar of an element of human nature that most people would rather not think about.

McCarthy's prose is very distinct, with odd syntax, unquoted dialogue, and considerable use of some rather rare words. His descriptions of the country are, in some places, nearly prose poems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
McCormack's unique style of writing once again captivates in Blood Meridian, with sculpted landscapes, mesmerising dialogues, and portrayals of violence that are disturbingly perceptive. Spinning a web between two disparate characters, the youthful Kid and the diabolical Judge, one is swept away on a most disturbing journey of the deepest senses. As several of his books, the mythology of the wild west is given a twist, unravelling the spin that has formed our perception of this part of American history, exposing it as it really was. The savage events that dominated the growth of the new nation are bared in chilling detail, uncomfortably lyrical in a language as of song. But it strikes an even deeper core, timeless beyond the historical time frame of the western expansion in America, equally relevant today as in any other time, relevant far beyond the geography of America's west. The elements of human nature are exposed as the quest for power and its abomination into brutality culminates in the peaks of violence - the meridians of blood. McCormack's writing, singular and unique as no other, as full of emotion as it is sparse in punctuation, stimulating and illuminating in clarity of thought, effortlessly breaking the mould of conventional form and grammar, and ultimately striking a chord deep within, that normally is touched only through poetry. And what most would not dare admit, a chord as relevant today as it was in the days of the wild west. My admiration for McCormack's writing, driven both by emotion and intellect, is complete - the man is a true master, this book a masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inferno of the American West 28 Aug 1998
By A Customer
Cormac McCarthy is our most talented fiction writer and this is his best work. From his initial effort, The Orchard Keeper, which justifiably won the Faulkner Award, through his Border Trilogy (also justifiable honored with the National Book Award), McCarthy has practiced his craft with literary genius and a painful, searing perspective of the American soul. We have a violent past, the product of a violent streak in our character, and McCarthy explodes that violence on the landscape of the Mexican-U.S. border of the 1850's. The reader delves into the lower reaches of human desolation, hoping to eventually see the light reaching back towards the surface but always turning into a chamber that leads further down into renewed horror and degeneracy, each level a new incarnation of this Western Inferno. The fact that McCarthy can evoke beauty and nuance even amidst this unrestrained human carnage is supreme testament to his skills as an artist. This read is a challenge to the willing - as any approach to great art must be. However, it is well worth the effort with its reward of fantastic panoramas of man's descent into a chaotic state, evil outside the metering bounds of civilization, horrifying in its stark portrayal of the dark side of our national character.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars War is God
I'm uncertain what to make of this book, especially since so many critics have compared it to Homer and Melville. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Mr. E. J. A. learman
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
already given
Published 7 days ago by HMJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Who can discover the engine of his ruin?
This extraordinary book has gathered plaudits from all sides and is revered as an example of historical fiction that tells the true story of the Glanton gang, who had been hired to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eileen Shaw
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Read this after reading Philipp Meyers "The Son" which some reviewers had compared to this book. Found the story to be fragmented and the prose difficult. Read more
Published 2 months ago by JoeTigger
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
One of the most shockingly violent and beautifully written books I've ever read. The character of the judge is captivating and terrifying in equal measure , a definite read
Published 2 months ago by Ryan Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh yes
I moan about going to work on Mondays never again. A scalp tingling piece of work from the master story teller.
Published 3 months ago by Kevin John Marner
5.0 out of 5 stars As beautiful as it is disturbing
What can one add to the mountains of commentary that already exists about this book? It contains some of the most poetic passages I've ever read, juxtaposed with some of the most... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Abiola O. Lapite
1.0 out of 5 stars Lonesome Dove it's not!
I purchased this book, along with the border trilogy, based on a good recommendations from friends who had read it but I found the style irritating, very hard to follow and coupled... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Philip W. Newstead
5.0 out of 5 stars Just breath-taking
I'm not even entirely sure this book had much of a story. It was more like a very morbid travelogue through a very nasty time. It didn't matter. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Miguel Pascual
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Set in the last century this a great tale of the old west and the Indian wars of that era and the life story of one of the charecters
Published 4 months ago by Ronald Scott
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