Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Child of God

Planning a trip to the Appalachian  Mountains and not quite finding the information I was looking for,  I remembered that Cormac Mc Carthy had several books  situated in that area. Knowing that I greatly appreciated his work, I started reading Child of God. His language, his style, his observation, his description of people and landscape are at the same time surgical, compassionate, non-judgmental and passionate. I have a list laying around of precise, beautiful words, the correct names of plants and landscape elements, tools.... all found in his writing. The child of god here is Lester Ballard a violent, dispossessed man, driven out of his ancestral home, roaming the mountains, surviving on his wits and ruthlessness. People disappear, are murdered and the women then are used to calm his loneliness, to satisfy his needs. It is amazing to me that through his brilliant writing, Mc Carthy doesn't neither glorify not vilify Lester Ballard. In a way his survival skills are as admirable as his actions are unconscionable and degraded. The main protagonist lives, like many of the other characters in abject poverty. To a degree I have seen these in small rural communities in the Mojave desert. I don't like to read horror stories nor violent tales, yet I find something sublime and compelling in Mc Carthy's novels, as if with his insight in people's actions he warns us for our dark sides.

A few words and phrases:
In the pines the voices chanted a lost litany.
(...) and then swept out the window howl on howl carrying first the muntins, then the sash
A windy riffle of whispers went among them.
(...) as if the sound authored the substance (...)

Now I am looking forward to  Outer Dark