Blood Meridian – From the vault book review

Blood Meridian or Evening Redness in the West

By Cormac McCarthy

Violent, visceral, beautiful. Blood Meridian is all of this and more. Often described as Cormac McCarthy’s magnum opus, Blood Meridian traces the story of ‘the kid’, a teenage runaway with violent tendencies. The kid eventually falls in with the historical ‘Glanton Gang’, a group of scalphunters massacring native americans for bounty.  As the Glanton Gang’s taste for money and blood becomes insatiable, they begin killing all those unfortunate enough to come within their path, native american or not. Among the Glanton Gang is Judge Holden,  physically imposing, completely hairless, intellectual and demon-like, who ultimately becomes the kid’s antagonist.

An anti-western, Blood Meridian sought to break romanticized conventions and paint a hyper-realistic portrayal of the west. McCarthy forces us to forget the stories of cowboys and indians and instead pictures the west as bloodsoaked where violence and brutal power reign as the supreme authority.  All men are equally bloodthirsty in Blood Meridian. The apaches are savages, massacring the imperials invading their land. Conversely the americans are driven by base desires for blood and carnage that McCarthy argues lie at the root of man. “War is god” proclaims Judge Holden, who slowly becomes something other than human.

Blood Meridian is by far the most brutally violent book I have read. Scenes of killing and murder are painted in grotesque and vivid detail and hit you like a punch in the face. Such scenes are woven into McCarthy’s beautiful and sprawling descriptions of the western landscape, presenting a sharp contrast to the calm balance of the natural world.

McCarthy’s prose is easy to get lost in as you navigate through long flowing paragraphs, with little to no punctuation or quotation marks. At times McCarthy’s depictions of isolated travels through the desert seem biblical in nature. Just make sure you bring a thesaurus when you read Blood Meridian as McCarthy has a penchant for words you never knew existed.

Blood Meridian is often an uncomfortable and uneasy read, at times horrifying; however it is one of the great works of the last century. Entering this world of savagery is a must.

Blood Meridian can be purchased here.

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2 comments

  1. I was assigned this in college on semester during a history of the Southwest course. It was eye opening and I fell in love with McCarthy even though the subject matter was so harsh there was a beauty there.

    Liked by 1 person

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