19. Child of God, Cormac McCarthy (June 11)
It’s what Cormac DOESN’T say, what he DOESN’T tell us, that seems to make his stories sometimes. The human imagination can come up with some pretty terrifying things, and he leaves so much of it to us to fill in.
I got this book on Mark’s recommendation, since he always suggests great books for me to read. After Paprika, I needed to take a break from Japanese writers and the very-Japanese style of over-thinking everything and a continuous, repetitive inner monologue. Back to American writers for now.
Child of God marks book #3 for me of McCarthy’s, and I truly appreciate the way he writes. I like the ‘end of the world’, ‘nothing left’, totally devastating feeling in his books. Of course, the Road literally WAS about the end of the world (or right before or after it, depending on who you ask), but this story is about someone surviving through what might seem like the end of the world for most people. A person is cut off from society, living rough (eventually in a cave), slowly descending into a somewhat mad existence as a pure animal. An animal that gets into necrophilia, by the end of the book. Was it nature or nurture? That’s up to the reader to decide.
McCarthy tells us just enough for us to imagine the rest. He doesn’t graphically describe how many people are killed, how many bodies are collected, or how many times the protagonist (?) defiles a corpse. He also works on our assumptions: in one scene, you have a feeling that he dragged a specific person back to his cave, but are informed at a later point in the book that he left that one to die/rot. He really plays with the readers’ emotions and assumptions, and I like that. I’m not often surprised anymore.
This story was read by Tom Stechschulte, who did the Road as well. I have to say, his voice is perfectly suited to these stories. He really does breathe a certain life into them that might be lost with someone else reading the lines.