Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy Summary

Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Cormac McCarthy is a novelist who has worked hard and in relative obscurity during the last thirty years. His early novels were frequently set in the American South, and explored the dark recesses of human desire and human nature. More recently, McCarthy has moved his literary territory westward, into the sun-baked, often brutal landscapes of west Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. At the same time, he has gathered an ever-increasing literary following; his fiction is valued for both its style and its vision, as McCarthy has emerged as a singular and significant voice in recent American writing.

This collection of essays offers a much-needed critical survey of McCarthy’s fiction to date. Although it does not include an essay on the most recent McCarthy novel, THE CROSSING (1994)—the second novel in the projected Borderlands Trilogy—this collection does provide a good study of the first novel in that trilogy, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES (1992). The collection also spans the breadth of McCarthy’s work, beginning with THE ORCHARD KEEPER (1965), moving through OUTER DARK (1968), CHILD OF GOD (1974), and SUTTREE (1979), and concluding with BLOOD MERIDIAN (1985) and ALL THE PRETTY HORSES. BLOOD MERIDIAN receives especially ample treatment here, with three essays offered upon that powerful work. Included, too, is a study of McCarthy’s first screenplay, “The Gardener’s Son.” Finally, the editors provide an extremely full and critically invaluable bibliography of works by and about McCarthy.

This book, then, is an important early entry in what is sure to become a full field of McCarthy criticism. There is much critical insight here, much sharp and enlightening commentary. For the most part, too, that commentary is accessible to the general reader—or to that specific reader who has come to know the rich and violent world of McCarthy’s prose.