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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, disturbing...and brilliant!
Outer Dark, Cormac McCarthy's second novel, is an apocalyptic and disturbing story revolving around the separate journey's made by its two protagonists. The book opens with Rinthy Holme baring her brother, Culla's, child. Not wanting the baby Culla leaves it in the woods to die where it is rescued by a tinker. On discovery of this Rinthy sets out to find her child,...
Published on 19 Jan 2001 by Charlie Parker

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rain, mud, cornbread, incest.
McCarthy's 1968 novel reads now almost like a parody. Its grimness flirts with farce.
In Appalachia at the beginning of the 20th century, we meet brother and sister Culla and Rinthy Holme, living in a rotting cabin. Rinthy, 19, is pregnant with Culla's child. We don't know how this has come about. When Rinthy gives birth, Culla takes the child and leaves him in a...
Published 21 months ago by annwiddecombe


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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, disturbing...and brilliant!, 19 Jan 2001
This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
Outer Dark, Cormac McCarthy's second novel, is an apocalyptic and disturbing story revolving around the separate journey's made by its two protagonists. The book opens with Rinthy Holme baring her brother, Culla's, child. Not wanting the baby Culla leaves it in the woods to die where it is rescued by a tinker. On discovery of this Rinthy sets out to find her child, while Culla embarks on his own ambiguous quest. McCarthy's brilliant novel blurs the line between reality and fantasy, creating some characters who are painfully real and other who seem to have descended straight from hell, itself. The book is full of superb dialogue that is both full of wit and menace, bringing it's characters vividly to life. However despite the humour the novel is shot through with foreboding, and the closer you get to the end the more distant a happy ending becomes. The climax is both shocking and disturbing, and will anger as many as it fascinates. But throughout McCarthy proves, once again, that nobody writes better about difficult rural life and its people. Outer Dark is challenging and bleak. But like all of McCarthy's novels it rewards your time and patience.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in 20 years!, 1 Jun 2008
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This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
This is the second Cormac McCarthy book I've read, my first being "The Road", which I felt to be a pretty bleak piece, though no less rewarding for that. I enjoyed it enough to try another, and picked "Outer Dark" pretty much at random. Within the first few paragraphs, this book had me completely hooked. The story is a very simple one, employing few (if any) plot complexities to keep the reader interested. Instead, it's the rich portrayal of the protagonists, a varied and fascinating cast of supporting characters, and a darkly evocative "Southern Gothic" setting that keep you utterly transfixed and eager for more. Constant throughout is a carefully balanced sense of foreboding which underpins the story as it builds to its somewhat predictable yet devastating conclusion. This is, without a doubt, the best book I have read in the last 20 years, prompting me to order every other work by this highly talented author! If each of them is half as good as "Outer Dark", I have many hours of wonderful reading ahead!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly original book; a mixture of fantasy and fact., 2 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
Outer Dark does exactly that - it reaches into the dark spaces on the edge of the reach of light and interleaves fantasy into a story set in the Apalachian Mountains at a time when the trappings of existence are pared to the bone and the characters exist on the very edges of life. Cormack McCarthy writes with energy and conviction, absorbing the reader in a story that is outside his experience in a terrible landscape. The writing is as compact and as barren as the landscape and the era it describes. It is a disturbing tale which tells of a mother's search for her lost child. This becomes the only thing that matters to her and which means that she is willing to endure any amount of hardship in the quest for a child she believed to have died. Not for the fainthearted.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 27 May 2011
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Joy M. Pope - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
A mythic journey through the darkness of the American South, this novel captures the arctypal rhythm of a country where songs and stories are wedded in blood. The journey that the young girl takes persuing her lost child is astonishing, as are the fury-echoing chasers who hound her brothers trail. This is Southern-Gothic writing at its best. So much richer than anything else on the market so far. If you want to hit the bone and sinew truth of story, to feel the rush and breath in the good air of a culture based on stories and the potency of words, you cannot do better than this. At least not yet.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent early McCarthy, 5 May 2008
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This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
I came to this having read several of McCarthy's later books. It is fascinating from this point of view, showing some of the earlier themes and images that one finds recurring throughout his work. One doesn't get as close to the characters in this book as in his later work and the author almost seems to want us to keep our distance and reserve our sympathy (this isn't necessarily a shortcoming, its just how it has been written - although I expect some will find it frustrating). The language as in all his work is absolutely superb. The content is fairly chilling but an excellent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak and brilliant, 14 April 2014
By 
hfffoman (Kent) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Outer dark [LegacyTitleID: 1944]
An extremely bleak story but so well written as to be entirely absorbing. The dialogue is so good I cannot think of any novelist who surpasses it. If you like audio books I particularly recommend Ed Sala's version of this - so gritty you feel you are right there among these wiry people, tough as worn out boots.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, 11 Jan 2012
By 
Mr. Colin Rankin "Colin Rankin" (Braintree, essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Outer Dark (Kindle Edition)
This is more a review of all Cormac Mcarthy's work.
I found Outer Dark a very shocking book,on a parallel with the awful Child of God and,probably,the extremely violent Blood Meridian.
None of the above is meant to say that these books are not great....they are.
Like many,I got into Cormac after the films No Country For Old Men and The Road.I should have got into him a lot earlier.
His writing style is majestic and poetic,maybe even hypnotic.
I have just completed the Border Trilogy and can only praise that also.A bit exhausting,though.But worthwhile.More than....sorry,trying unsuccessfully to write like him.
Back to Outer Dark.
I cried at the end of this.I have never done that before.
I cried at the storyline,I cried for the sister and brother,I cried at how much better a writer he is than I will ever be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rain, mud, cornbread, incest., 30 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
McCarthy's 1968 novel reads now almost like a parody. Its grimness flirts with farce.
In Appalachia at the beginning of the 20th century, we meet brother and sister Culla and Rinthy Holme, living in a rotting cabin. Rinthy, 19, is pregnant with Culla's child. We don't know how this has come about. When Rinthy gives birth, Culla takes the child and leaves him in a forest. He tells Rinthy the child has died. A passing tinker finds the 'little woodsy colt' and takes it away. Rinthy, 'paps' leaking milk, decides to look for the baby. Culla then decides to look for Rinthy.
The book intercuts Rinthy's search with Culla's. Lurking in the background are three men, one a mute idiot, another man called Harmon, and their leader, a nameless bearded man in a black linen suit that's too small for him. All wear wretched boots. Quite what their role is - apart from randomly hanging and disembowelling people and eating clots of unnameable meat - is never made clear.
The narrative is, as are most Mccarthy novels, a succession of vaguely similar scenes as Culla and Rinthy, both destitute and wearing little more than rags, meet a cast of unfailingly grotesque characters; one old women is noseless, another a 'stooped and hooded anthropoid'. Few of these scenes have much purpose; they're simply meetings. Food is foul, houses decayed, roads fissured and blasted. The surrounding action is also repetitious: a crazed horse throws itself into a river, as later do several hundred hogs. Culla is threatened and chased a number of times. But then McCarthy has never truly been interested in the traditional features of a novel: his characters rarely 'develop' and have no interior life. Readers find this brave and uncontrived, or unsatisfying, according to taste. I'm not one for 'journeys' or 'change', so it doesn't bother me.
What does - and what, along with the unfocused nature of the story makes Outer Dark a lesser novel - is McCarthy's over-enthusiasm for turning detail into something vastly apocalyptic or portentous: 'Hounded by grief, by guilt, or like this cheerless vendor clamored at heel through wood and fen by his own querelous and inconsolable wares in perennial tin malediction.' 'He squatted before the fire and extended his palms over it like some stormy and ruinous prophet.' Sometimes it seems a leaf can't fall without it being the harbinger of some world-darkening doom. Of course, when he hits the description right, he hits it out of the park, his similies and turn of phrase are consistently original and revealing, and his pithy, often witty, argot-heavy dialogue, even in this early novel, is masterly, if occasionally meandering.
In a recent interview, McCarthy criticised, red-neckishly, 'exotic foreign films' and magical realism, claiming to be interested in nothing but plausibility. Certainly from this novel, and others (is Anton Chigurh - spelling? - in 'No Country for Old Men' even remotely plausible, for example?) his universe could be seen to be as stylised and constructed as that of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dazzling master class in the art of the novelist..., 17 May 2012
By 
G. E. Harrison (Cheltenham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
I thought that 'Outer Dark' was like a cross between 'The Road' and 'Blood meridian', although to be fair it wasn't nearly as violent as 'Blood meridian' but there was nonetheless a constant underlying menace which made you suspect that every encounter was going to end badly. The story is relatively simple - the search for "the chap" and also the sister - with the subsequent journeys introducing us to a cast of colourful characters and strange encounters.

Although the story maybe slight McCarthy's writing is like fireworks going off, this is a dazzling master class in the art of the novelist, where he creates and peoples a totally believable but very dark world. The narrative proceeds via a series of spellbinding set pieces - such as the ferry incident - and although I suspected that there could be no happy ending I was compelled to keep reading to the bitter end. This isn't a cosy historical novel - this is dirty realism (with the emphasis on the 'dirty') with the dark reflecting both the darkness of the period and the Appalachian setting and also the darkness of man's soul.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Mcarthy, 18 Mar 2011
This review is from: Outer Dark (Paperback)
Where do I start?....

This is Cormacs second novel and starts as dark as it continues. A brother and sister father a child. The brother tells her the child has died, but actually leaves it to perish in the forest. The lie is found out and the sister goes in search of the childs whereabouts. In turn the brother follows to find the sister....

Along each siblings journey they encounter various characters and ways of life.

As with all of mcarthys works don't expect anyone to have a good time or be particularly joyous. His usual desolate descriptive prose cuts right through to the bone. A little hard to follow at times, but it is always worth the effort.

Cormac Mcarthy is an amazing writer and one that I can see being studied for generations to come
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Outer Dark
Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy (Paperback - 1 Jan 2010)
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