Cormac McCarthy's Western Novels

Cormac McCarthy's Western Novels

by Barcley Owens
     
 

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In the continuing redefinition of the American West, few recent writers have left a mark as indelible as Cormac McCarthy. A favorite subject of critics and fans alike despite—or perhaps because of—his avoidance of public appearances, the man is known solely through his writing. Thanks to his early work, he is most often associated with a bleak

Overview

In the continuing redefinition of the American West, few recent writers have left a mark as indelible as Cormac McCarthy. A favorite subject of critics and fans alike despite—or perhaps because of—his avoidance of public appearances, the man is known solely through his writing. Thanks to his early work, he is most often associated with a bleak vision of humanity grounded in a belief in man's primordial aggressiveness.

McCarthy scholar Barcley Owens has written the first book to concentrate exclusively on McCarthy's acclaimed western novels: Blood Meridian, National Book Award winner All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain. In a thought-provoking analysis, he explores the differences between Blood Meridian and the Border Trilogy novels and shows how those differences reflect changing conditions in contemporary American culture.

Owens captures both Blood Meridian's wanton violence and the Border Trilogy's fond remembrance of the Old West. He shows how this dramatic shift from atavistic brutality to nostalgic Americana suggests that McCarthy has finally given his readers what they most want—the stuff of their mythic dreams.

Owens's study is both an incisive look at one of our most important and demanding authors and a penetrating analysis of violence and myth in American culture. Fans of McCarthy's work will find much to consider for ongoing discussions of this influential body of work.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A most readable, thought-provoking analysis." —Journal of the West

"If you want to comprehend what makes All the Pretty Horses a showpiece, and McCarthy possibly the most profound voice in contemporary Western literature, some of the answers are here." —Santa Fe New Mexican

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816519286
Publisher:
University of Arizona Press
Publication date:
07/01/2000
Pages:
136
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)

What People are saying about this

Barclay Owens
McCarthy prompts us to ask ourselves why we watch Quentin Tarantino films or Jerry Springer, or why our national attention is riveted to real-life violence, such as the O.J. trial, the Timothy McVeigh trial, the JonBenet Ramsey investigation, or whatever the most recent mayhem might be. Our fascination and horror are twinned, paradoxical responses, compelling us to keep watching, to satiate our desire for a vicarious thrill.

Meet the Author


Barcley Owens teaches composition and American literature at Big Bend Community College in eastern Washington.

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