20 November 2009

I Feel Dirty/It's Not You, It's Me

Unofficial CR II, Book 3: Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

I just finished this book and promptly threw it down upon my couch. I feel dirty and disgusting, and I think I'm breaking up with Mr. McCarthy. Jesopus! And yet, at the same time, I can't help but be impressed. How can a writer say so much with so few words? How can he evoke such mood, such feeling, such nothingness in chapters of two pages? Cormac McCarthy is a master of words.

Child of God is the story of Lester Ballard, whom I hesitate to call a human being. He functions as an animal. Maybe not even an animal. He is that dark thing that we all feel inside ourselves, yet we deny. Lester's everyday existence is what we would imagine in the darkest of circumstance, and then taken to another level. He isn't content to merely survive, he wants to fulfill other needs and he'll get it done any way he can. Lester is worse than a serial killer, and I felt vile and sick just reading about him. Even more frightening is that this story is based in reality, on a murderer in Tennessee. Though I haven't read No Country for Old Men, this book had the same tone, feel and some of the language I saw in the movie. Tommy Lee Jones is easily the sheriff if this is translated to a film (I would never see). My insides squirmed, knowing that even now, there are people living some version of Lester's life. There is ugly truth here.

I can't see myself recounting the actual story, other than to say that Lester Ballard is a loner who exists outside society. This book is his life story, empty and filled with violence and disdain for everyone and everything. But even while submersed in the wasteland of Lester's world, I couldn't help marveling over McCarthy's simple prose and specific language that immersed me, helplessly. He takes something so horrific and makes it beautiful.

I do want to add a note that derogatory terms are sprinkled liberally through this story, for those who would want to avoid such things.


Anonymous said...

naughty language? i'm in.

brite said...

Great review! I had to toss 'The Crossing' at a wall because McCarthy makes it all just a little to real and I couldn't take it.