Cormac McCarthy, as many of you may have heard, has been the source of several great screenplays in recent years. But what people often forget, is that these wonderfully complex, compelling, and quite gore-filled stories originated from his very own novels, often with the same name.
Here, I will go through the novels of his that have captured my imagination time and time again, pulling me into a horrifying world of torment and anguish, and leaving me with sentiments I had not previously experienced.
Child of God
This book, apart from being one of his most vividly gut-wrenching writings to date, is a Southern Gothic masterpiece. It follows the journeys of a messed-up man named Lester Ballard as he survives the chilly winter of mountainous Sevier County, Tennessee.
As a man ostracised by society, Ballard finds himself growing more and more fond of isolation. He acquires a promiscuous taste for a certain type of people, living out of a cave like a beast.
His actions, summed up in three words are (1) cruel, (2) disgusting, and (3) inhumane. But Cormac McCarthy writes it in such a way that you start exploring the motives and thought process of Ballard even while he sexually plunders the dead and the living.
If you have a weak stomach, I wouldn't recommend this book as your first taste of McCarthy (unless you're willing to fight through the graphic and evocative nature of the novel).
The Road has been near the top of my overall favourites list for a while. It is deemed by critics as the pinnacle of McCarthy's art, culminating all the best parts of his storytelling technique that he mastered in his other novels in between the two covers of this book.
The novel follows a father and son in a devastated world filled with famine and death. They are constantly faced with threats to their survival, coming across a band of looters, mysterious torches in the distance, a sporadic man with a bow and arrow. It is unbelievable what he does in these pages.
No matter how tough times become, the bond between the father and son is never broken. Even when they are separated, they are still together in heart and mind. It is a story of overcoming struggle and feeling the pain of the journey most of all.
If you ever want a great read, have a look at The Road. There are no chapters, and, at times, it feels there is no end, but that is what The Road is like, both the book and the fictional setting.
No Country for Old Men
Now if you ever wanted to read what would happen with a major drug deal gone wrong, this is the book for you. Cormac McCarthy presents multiple storylines that twist and contort our imagination, presenting us with questions that we desperately need answers, and sometimes remain unanswered which only augments the experience of the story.
The book explores primarily explores two main individuals. The first being Llewellyn Moss, a Vietnam veteran, who stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong and chooses to carry a case of over $2 million home. He returns to the site of the failed drug deal with some water for the sole survivor, only to find the man dead and himself being chased by other drug dealers.
The second individual is a hitman named Anton Chigurh who is a sociopathic killer wielding a bolt weapon and uses a coin flip to decide if his victims will live or die. Chigurh is the person you DO NOT want to accidentally meet walking alone in the street. He is a cold-hearted, ruthless monster who knows how and when you will die because he is the one who will do it.
Overall, this novel has some of McCarthy's best plot points, constructing two lives temporally parallel, intertwining experiences and events that leave you craving to turn the page. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone.