Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West

Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West


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Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 195 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first McCarthy. I suspect that like others I came to it at the recommendation of Harold Bloom, of whom I am a sort of disciple. (For the record, Bloom does not say that this is the 'best American novel in 50 years¿', instead he says that BM is the 'greatest aesthetic achievement of any American novelist in 50 years.' Bloom, as usual, has chosen his words carefully.) And despite Bloom's valid enthusiasm, McCarthy is a true if still only slightly inferior inheritor of Joyce and Conrad via Faulkner, as well as of Hemmingway, Melville, Twain and perhaps Whitman. Upon first glance at the text, one is reminded of Faulkner at his most desperately purple and Joycean. Deeper one sees Hemingway's mechanics and structure and use of Spanish dialog, as well as Whitman¿s¿ and Stevens' taste for a wide and unusual vocabulary. (Judge Holden in the preacher's camp, falsely exposing the preacher as a phony is pure Poldy in Nighttown.) 'Phantasmagoric', found in the text, is an appropriate adjective for BM. Set in the 1850s in Texas and Mexico, it follows the hypergrotesque (I'm still not sure that word is strong enough) odyssey of the the Kid, an orphan who enlists with the Glanton gang, a pack of wretched mercenaries hunting Apache scalps for bounty. As such BM is 350 pages of nightmare bloodletting, all written by an author whose powers of naturalistic description are fearless and masterful and apparently bottomless. It all takes quite a toll, since it leaves few places for the reader to rest. McCarthy evinces none of the anxiety that propels his precursors, like Melville, to let some light slip out and betray hope-- and that, all moralizing aside, may be the novel's only real flaw. Howevermuch the first few pages of BM might resemble the first few of Moby Dick with its invitations to 'See' and then proceed to lead us sleepily into a mad and bloody epic, BM will not suffer an Ishmael to tell his dreamy tale. When we do get to rest from the decapitations and disembowelings in BM, it's in a space of Kafkan absurdity, a Beckett-like vacuum of absence of meaning, or thankfully (!) in the anti-Dostoevskian philosophizings of Judge Holden, who is the true center, anti-center, of the novel, something more than superficially like Moby Dick's white whale. That the reader is placed in such a desperate space, however, and that we must sit by the fire and somehow be glad for (and rightfully terrified of) Holden is clearly the novel's greatest strength. Holden, perhaps the Devil himself, whose real interest among the Glanton gang is in the Kid, in whom he sees something redeeming that he cannot let be, is a charming and gentlemanly renaissance man who also happens to be an abyss of negation and destruction, an albino giant Old Scratch whose principle of being/non-being is that 'War is God'. The novel is emotionally taxing and frustrating, and it has its major aesthetic flaws (also inherited from Faulkner and Twain: Faulkner when the rhetoric unintentionally mocks itself-- but that is rare since the writing is so controlled and taut--, and on a large scale like Twain in Huck Finn, when BM seems to go off the rails about 3/4 of the way through), but it is a must for any serious reader of American novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First, be warned, this story is not for the faint of heart. That aside, it is probably one of the most beautiful and monstrous books I've come across in recent memory. The juxstaposition of considerably luscious descriptives for an austere backdrop alongside stomach turning violence with an equally existential/fatalistic twist to the characters is such an exciting dichotomy. The book is one that stays with you. It can evoke some serious reactions- that's not only rare in my opinion, but prized. Cormac McCarthy is one of my favorites and of his work this is, in my opinion, his epitome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have known about this book for over 15 years and have looked for other resources related to this book to help deepen my appreciation for the genius of Cormac McCarthy. I recently stumbled across a new tool on John Sepich's website - a complete concordance of 'Blood Meridian'. The breakdown of McCarthy's word choices and variety will blow your mind. After spending some time on the site, I am going to go back and re-read this book. I am sure that it is going to be even more intriguing now than previous reads.
Irving_Washington More than 1 year ago
"In that sleep and in sleeps to follow the judge did visit. Who would come other? A great shambling mutant, silent and serene. Whatever his antecedents he was something wholly other than their sum, nor was there a system by which to divide him back into his origins for he would not go. Whoever would seek out his history through what unraveling of loins and ledgerbooks must stand at last darkened and dumb at the shore of a void without terminus or origin and whatever science he might bring to bear upon the dusty primal matter blowing down out of the millennia will discover no trace of any ultimate atavistic egg by which to reckon his commencing."

If you didn't like reading that, you won't like reading Blood Meridian, as that passage is from the novel. I pity you if you don't like it.

Judge Holden is the most evil character that I've ever read.

McCarthy's writing is aesthetic genius.

That's really all I have to say. It's a masterpiece.
Paul_Hochman More than 1 year ago
The darkest and most disturbing book ever put to paper. McCarthy's vision of the American West is apocalyptic in scope and steeped in depravity; a haunting tome and the only book that ever gave me nightmares.
Eric Daum More than 1 year ago
The author has an uncanny way with vivid but often times terse description. His characters are alive and morally grey. The reader follows the 'kid' as he journeys through hell on earth around the boarders of Texas and Mexico.
fibasile More than 1 year ago
A great book. once it gets to you i am sure it will become a page turner. A definitive modern masterpiece, at the same level of faulkener, guimaraes rosa or conrad. must read.
cjhTX More than 1 year ago
There is not one redeeming character in the book. I cannot remember ever before reading a book that did not have have one character that projected some semblance of nobility. No doubt the book does accurately portray a level of humanity that existed in the "wild west" but thank God it did not win out. Like many (all?) of McCarthy's books it explores the dark side of human behavior in greater depth than many people may be able to tolerate, but his style of writing, with minimal attention to grammatical correctness, while still managing to produce captivating tales, is astonishing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel like the only one who doesn't like it but I have to share my thoughts about it. I found it very confusing and disappointing. It started off interesting but then so many characters were thrown into the story, most of which were unimportant or killed in the next chapter. I found it annoying how much attention I had to put into reading it. McCarthy would describe the scenery or the desert for so long that I'd lose focus and then something important for the story would happen, so I'd have to go back and re-read nearly everything to the point where I didn't care about anything the book had to say anymore. I didn't like any of the characters, I stopped caring towards the end of the book how crazy or evil any of them were. For the last 1/4 of the book, I was so confused that I didn't know who was killing who, where anybody was, who was alive or dead, so I found myself reading as fast as I could because I wanted to finish it as quick as I could just to end it. And to top all of that, it was unnecessarily violent, I personally like violent books and movies, but this was so ridiculous to the point where it was really annoying.
SavageBS More than 1 year ago
I was eager to read "Blood Meridian", like most I heard it was a classic and profound read full of violence and gore. It was, but I found the reading in the 1st 100 pages tedious and slow going. I really enjoyed the book as a whole, but found many of the descriptions long winded! The violence and outright lunacy of the scalp hunters is what kept me reading. The main character is "The Kid", who for 14 years old is a tough one. Several other great characters in the book, "The Judge", wow, McCarthy could write a book just about him. This was only my 2nd McCarthy book, the other being "The Road", which blew me away. If you like McCarthy, you'll probably enjoy "Blood Meridian", but the blood and violence level is very, very high if your not comfortable with it. Personally I'm looking forward to reading "Outer Dark" next, hoping to get back to the McCarthy I adored after reading "The Road"! When you finish this book, if you feel like you have some unanswered questions, look up "Blood Meridian" on and you'll find a long analysis about the characters and the ending! I know I did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While appreciating McCarthy's achievement, I consider the 'style' unnecessarily affected. The innovation of dropping quotation marks, apostrophes, and most hyphens should not be confused with creativity. His approach leads to confusion rather than clarity. Strunk and White would be aghast. Similes and metaphors are often incongruous. The conjunction 'and' is used ad nauseam where commas will suffice and signal where a reader can pause. Enough with the grammar lesson though. It would be interesting to hear how the author justifies the appearance of a lanneret, a harpy eagle, ringdoves, jackals, and even nectar-sipping bats that (in the US) are found only in Big Bend National Park. Repetition of 'They rode on' becomes nauseating. For what purpose are less familiar words - thrapple for windpipe, aubergines for eggplants? Spanish words are distractingly misspelled. Eventually there's a point where erudition becomes ostentation. The character Judge Holden, whose discourses would daze an Oxford professor, personifies this negative factor. However, in defense of the 'ambiguous' ending, I ask what would the reader wish? One may suppose that McCarthy painted himself into a corner, but a novel takes on life when its characters have their own say as to resolution. Leaving the matter for interpretation was a beautiful stroke.
SupDugs More than 1 year ago
A Classic in the Faulkner-ian sense. It is enormous in its scope and ambition on par with Melville and it's Milton-esque Biblical connotations of good vs. evil. It is a land of evil and barren of hope. The characters are drawn from an actual journal from the US Mexican War. It is devastating and nightmarish. This book will haunt you with its vivid account of no-holds-barred gurrilla warfare where no one is safe not even the dogs. It's as frightning a depiction of blood thirsty evil in the world as has ever been written.
McCarthy92 More than 1 year ago
This is by far the greatest book of all time!!!This is my third book by Cormac McCarthy and I found this one to be his best one. This is a pretty difficult read since you have to be 100 % in the book and the fact that it's like the most violent book ever. I thought Anton Chigurh was a bad dude but Judge Holden is even more evil. The prose in this book is so beautiful. I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone unless they don't mind a story about a bunch of scalphunters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the most grotesque novel ever written in modern literature. Cormac McCarthy should have earned the Pulitzer Prize for a novel so splashed with blood and massacre, it outranks all the horrific books published by Stephen King or Jews who have written about their concentration camp experiences during World War II. To read this book is like memorizing detailed instructions on how to butcher a cow in a meat plant. The novel could easily take the place of Caulfield¿s Catcher in the Rye as the number one book the FBI would find in a serial killer¿s home. The story is not about murder, although one see¿s it in each gripping chapter of Indian massacres, merciless bar fights, child killings, and simple I don¿t like seeing your face, so I¿m going to chop your head off scenarios. Instead, the story gives us an understanding that world peace can never be obtained in a society ruled by competition and war-making genes flourishing in all of us. The novel is brilliantly executed and keeps the reader ¿with a strong stomach¿ reading until the climatic end. Cormac writes with a poetic style, distorting descriptions with brilliant metaphors, so one receives an exciting view of the landscape like only Melville and Faulkner can do. The highlight of the book is its haunting albino character, Judge Holden, a Moby Dick or Satan in human form who exploits the shortfalls of humanity. One could imagine Marlon Brando of Apocalypse Now in the character Judge Holden, but with white skin and a vocabulary as prolific as a Harvard graduate. The Judge kills with relish and gives creditable excuses for all his murders. If you have read Stephen King¿s The Stand, you will find many similarities between Holden and Randall Flagg, they are the same demonic entity, but the Judge is more brilliantly done up. In the end, the Judge is neither evil nor sympathetic to the human cause, but is a reminder to our mortality and how useless self-gain, entertainment, and love means in the end when all that invites us is death.
Guest More than 1 year ago
McCarthy has one of the most distinctive voices in American fiction today. In my view, he is our finest Western writer--though not in the traditional sense. With its long, sinuous sentences, vaulting and maddening philosophical musings, and lurid passages of the grotesque, BLOOD MERIDIAN is a literary descendant of Faulkner's novels. Yet it offers us a much darker vision: America's Westward Expansion is merely a regression into a bloodlust as old as humanity itself. Occasionally the prose is overblown, and the writing would have benefited from some judicious condensing. My main reason for withholding a star is that I'm not sure what is at stake in this story. Should we see the kid as presented with a choice between embracing the demonic violence embodied by the judge and repudiating such violence? Yet the kid remains as knee-deep in the mayhem as everyone else, and his fate left me unmoved. At one point, the kid wanders out of the mountains into a clearing where a tree has been struck by lightning. Animals of all kinds--mountain lions, birds, tarantulas, scorpions--have gathered around the fiery tree. It is a mystical, wonderful image, one I wish had been developed. It suggests that peaceful community can be as primal as violence. If only the kid had followed this path!
Guest More than 1 year ago
An amazing book that made this aparently low-level reader's head ache. Written in a style that becomes difficult to follow at times(with a lack of quoations marks and labels of whose speaking). While it contains many thick sections that must be trudged through, and Faustian references that could easily be missed(a 14 year lapse in time between pro- & antagonists, twice that found in Faust) McCarthy's superb and gut renching descriptions of gore and death flow effortlessly into the Judge's rants on religion and agency. An excellent read, if you can get through it! I just wish I had a peer to discuss it with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay. I'm serious. This book is awesome. It's weird, over the top, violent and yet wonderfully beautiful, epic, written in a style that will either leave you cold or suck you in completely. I mean it. I don't know that everyone will love this book, but for those who do the experience is really wonderful. McCarthy is a crazy wordsmith. He weaves a spell and takes you on a journey across fantastic landscapes and across the dark territory of men's souls. Good stuff. Wish there was more like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Blood Meridian is the tragically beautiful story of men, surviving on the frontier, who have befriended violence and live their lives according to its dictum. Cormac McCarthy¿s tale of the South West during the 1800¿s is so unrelenting one cannot help feeling more and more affected, both mentally and physically, with each passing page. The vivid images of violence, but also the spiritual imagery and the conflict between those who are simply no-good and those who are truly evil, create an unforgettable world of despair where carnage is law and survival is redemption. The story follows The Kid, a fourteen-year old drifter, across the Texas border into Mexico where he joins a group of mercenaries traveling through the desert killing Indians and selling their scalps. Through their experience the reader is introduced to a Wild West, stripped of morality, and replaced by a realism unique to McCarthy. With elegant prose that brings the desert to life and an uncanny understanding of the human spirit, Cormac McCarthy has written maybe the best American Novel in 25 years.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This, like many others, was the first, alongside The Road since I was reading them at the same time, was a great book and great introduction to Cormac McCarthy. If you’re looking for something that has a different style to it, this would be a great author to check out. This book, in particular, is related to history. I think it gives a good spin on what it was like and what the southwest was like. There aren't any negatives to this book, or author, other than the grotesque visuals and long sentences, which, in my opinion, are great and a different style of writing which makes it more enjoyable to read. Comparing to other books I enjoyed, and reaching out of my comfort zone, it was a great book to start off with and get me, and possibly you, excited with jumping out of your comfort zone of specific genres that you may be interested in yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw no talent in this book. Gore upon gore to no advantage. Characters never develop. The judge's philosophical rants were threadbare. The arcane words added nothing to the lack of punctuation. Waste of time and money.
Jimbo_Tron More than 1 year ago
Writers glorify the “Wild West”. Stories often feature a courageous drifter defeating savage Native Americans and saving civilians. Cormac McCarthy’s 1986 novel Blood Meridian twists the typical tales of the “Wild West” into something darker and bloodier. Blood Meridian follows The Kid, a vagabond who becomes entangled in a group of scalp hunters led by a man named Glanton. Among them is The Judge, an enigmatic man who mystifies the others with his impassioned speeches about war and forms a vicious rivalry with The Kid. I found Blood Meridian to be a commentary on violence and humanity that was barbarous but enthralling. However, I thought that the characters did not seem like actual people, but symbols for themes. Also, while the descriptions of desert scenes are beautiful and ethereal, McCarthy utilizes several arcane words in this novel that cause it to feel dense at times. Despite copious and dense descriptions, Blood Meridian is an excellent novel that I would recommend to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So utterly horrendous. The lack of quotation marks and apostrophes causes McCarthy to appear uneducated and makes the already difficult and dense read that much more confusing. And in light of Chamberlain's journal, McCarthy removes all humanity of the "white man" as well as all animality of the Native American's actions, especially in the case of Glanton, to serve his own purpose. If you're interested in a first-hand, presumably more factual account of the described occurrences in "Blood Meridian," read Samuel Chamberlain's "My Confession: Recollections of a Rogue."