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on 19 January 2001
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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on 1 June 2008
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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on 2 January 2000
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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VINE VOICEon 11 January 2012
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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on 27 May 2011
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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on 5 February 2016
My first book by the author having watched some films based on his novels and I do seem to have missed the genius that other readers have got. The book to me is just a series of scenes each of which are fine in themselves, but there just doesn't seem to be that much of a point. There isn't any twists, there isn't really any change in pace or anything else. Now I guess that maybe the point and the author is revelling in the bleakness of the setting but it felt at times as if it was a chore to pick up and read a chapter or two.

I've been given another one of his books to read and will give it a go as I would like to experience what other readers have but maybe this will be an author I just don't 'get'.
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on 5 May 2008
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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on 12 April 2015
Neat and tidy closure is not the be all and end all. A story well told affords us the luxury of living with the unsolved or unresolved. It allows our imagination to flourish that little bit more. Outer Dark recognises this fact.

Being penned by Cormac McCarthy, it meant that Outer Dark would at the very least be an essential read for me. I am very familiar with McCarthy's approach to story telling, but this, his second novel, is not the best representation of his evolving work. Granted though, you are always going to get visceral, corporeal, disjointed, dysfunctional, morally and environmentally corrupt and polluted story lines. But that works for us admirers of Cormac McCarthey's work; some people enjoy immensely, the brand of imagery that this man can conjure up. For me he finds magic in the darkest of times and places. It feels like McCarthy may have had a lot of stuff he needed to get off his chest during work on this book. I believe it cleared the way for the ensuing, mostly spellbinding way he went on to tell tales of scrabbles in the dirt and struggles in the quagmire.

Many romantic myths and misconceptions are unravelled during the journeys he takes you on. But even purged of whim and fancy, there are little green shoots of blessed fertility to be found; especially among many of the sparsely peopled backwoods encountered along the way. The prose is utterly essential, for without it you cannot inhabit his characters properly. You end up immersed in his characters in a markedly different, almost elemental way, once you stop resisting the archaic prose.

Blood Meridian is one story of his I'd particularly recommend. Perhaps with Suttree as a second course.

For me, the discovery of Cormac McCarthy's work has given me a legacy of thoughts of something other; something different and unique that sits apart from all other stuff. Only Mervin Peake's work (Titus, Mr Pye etc.) has had this kind of effect on me in such a marked way.
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on 13 May 2015
Just finished it today, and gotta say what a fantastic story. Some really gripping moments in this book, I especially liked the way it kept going from the brothers journey, to the sisters one. Ive read The road ( about 10 times, as I love it ) No country for old men, Child of god and Blood meridian.
Think now I shall purchase his first novel, The orchard keeper.

Brilliant Author

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on 25 February 2014
It is impossible to describe what attracts me, it must be the realism of the feeling. Many of the most harrowing aspects are inferred as opposed to being graphic, however the situations are such that you feel the fallout in the pit of your stomach just as if you had been there. It often takes time to recover after reading a few chapters, and can take months for the feeling left after the book to subside completely.
It is a concern to me now that I don't get anything like the intensity of reading experience from any other author, and I have run out of McCarthy books. I think the books should come with a warning, it is not that you like these stories they are often harrowing, but it is always incredible when you realize where you have been transported, and despite the incredible descriptive prose it is often what is not said but still there that takes you there. Enough, amazing!
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