Friday, November 05, 2010

Blood Meridian: A Scorched Prophecy

What do you get when you cross Sam Peckinpah with Samuel Beckett and Federico Fellini? Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West. It's a fantastic novel filled with scorching violence and sinister doom, punched through with carnavalesque visions straight out of Ezekiel. But rather than being set in ancient Babylon, it takes place in the west Texas borderland of the 19th century.

While Blood Meridian has been long regarded as a quintessential American novel, it shares much in common with a Canadian landmark - Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works Of Billy The Kid. The graphic violence and strangled diction mirrors the savagery at the cold heart of both works.

This is brutal territory, a mindscape where all superficiality and worthless sentimentality is obliterated. All that remains is primordial instinct and cunning, animal-like and ruthless. Blood Meridian is a harrowing novel, a genuine masterwork that redeems itself through the cascading lyricism of McCarthy's prose, at times as scorching as a river of fire, but also revelatory if you can withstand it.

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