One fist of iron, the other of steel


October 6, 2013 by Laird

Cormac McCarthy is my favorite living author and Blood Meridian is his masterpiece. As the jacket copy notes, it is “An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion…” Fueled by McCarthy’s relentless and brutal lyricism, it’s a novel capable of flensing a reader’s emotions in a way that is rare and grimly wonderful. Labeled a western or historical, I consider it a great North American horror novel that will live in your memory with the power of a car accident.

Another book that affects me like lye in the eye is James Dickey’s To the White Sea. This novel follows the desperate journey of an American gunner shot down during the firebombing of Tokyo. The protagonist Muldrow calls upon survival skills learned from a lifetime of hunting the remote interior of Alaska as he evades capture and heads north from Tokyo into the frozen north. Anything but a hapless victim fleeing for his life, Muldrow is much closer to representing a tiger set free to ravage an unsuspecting populace. There’s a lot going on under the surface of the chase story–it’s really a stark and horrific examination of a man traveling from the darkness of genesis into the darkness of annihilation.

10 thoughts on “One fist of iron, the other of steel

  1. Sam Cowan says:

    I haven’t read McCarthy yet, but am resolved to start here.

    Coincidentally, a friend just finished BLOOD MERIDIAN and was looking for something to read next, so I gave him a copy of TBTTAUA. Your legion grows.

  2. Laird says:

    Thanks, Sam.

    Child of God is also brilliant.

  3. Thank you! I recently read Blood Meridian (upon your recommendation) and it was amazing! I’m going to read To The White Sea next.

  4. Greg Mollin says:

    Since reading it fifteen years ago, I’ve pushed Blood Meridian on anyone who would listen. His use and descriptions of violence are spontaneous, savage and horrifying. Completely realistic. I thought of McCarthy when I was reading your new collection. Hand of Glory might be my favorite short story in years.

  5. Shane D. Keene says:

    Interesting that you should write this post today Laird. I just read your story “Blackwood’s Baby” last night and found myself thinking, ‘If H.P. Lovecraft were reincarnated as Cormac McCarthy, this is what you’d get’. Good stuff.

    Another McCarthy gem I just finished is “Outer Dark”. Although it isn’t categorized as horror, it is certainly a horrifying story.

  6. griffinwords says:

    I also love McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, and of course The Road.

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