©1985 Cormac McCarthy; (P)2007 Recorded Books
“The authentic American apocalyptic novel…I venture that no other living American novelist, not even Pynchon, has given us a book as strong and memorable as Blood Meridian.” (Harold Bloom)
"McCarthy is a writer to be read, to be admired, and quite honestly envied." (Ralph Ellison)
"McCarthy is a born narrator, and his writing has, line by line, the stab of actuality. He is here to stay." (Robert Penn Warren)
I love my books, over 1000 in my library. I have been a member since the year 2000.
Too disturbing... I listened to this because my daughter wanted a study partner. She had this as an assignment in college. I like mysteries. Because there was so much killing in this book, she thought that I would enjoy it. I was never so glad to finish a book in my life. Had I not promised to listen to it. I would not have mad it far!
It does forever change the way I think of the old West. This country was littered with faceless, nameless corpses who died in obscurity.
I am a reading omnivore. Classics, non-fiction, history, locavore, mysteries. I read it all.
First of all, let me say that I am an unabashed admirer of everything else I've read or listed to by Cormac McCarthy. This includes the Horses trilogy, No Country for Old Men and the Road. He is an almost singular literary beacon in these times. I admire his quality of prose, discriptive abilities, use of word and language structure to convey meaning beyond the words.
Blood Meridian, however, I found a mess of an early effort in his evolution. The key challenge for me was repetition. While lots of things happen (and I understand that McCarthy's focus is on spiritual rather than literal character development) the book seemed to lack a clear plot or any character development. Literature benefits when each event creates some change in plot or character. The endless repetitive brutal episodes in this book do not cause change. In sum they do but we as readers don't need 90% of them.\
Bottom line: I kept wondering why I was continuing to listen to this when nothing seemed to be happening, even when terrible things were happening every minute.
Stick to the later works.
I love me some audiobooks
I agree with the other reviewers who think of this author as a masterful writer and an artful conjurer of fantastic and disturbing stories. I also agree with the reviewer who states that this is a book that should be read rather than listened to. Unless you can stay with the story all the way through and not be interrupted or forced to listen to small bits over several weeks, then Maybe you can come away with a satisfying finish. I must admit I was lost half way through. I found it hard to keep track of where the characters were, where they were going and what it was they were supposed to be doing. Maybe it deserves another chance when I have lots of time to devote just to listening.
As a plug, if you like this sort of raw humanity, check out the book One Second After by William Forstchen. It will stir more than just your imagination.
Some kind of quality in the characters with which to identify
I usually love his work. This one got me not at all.
...if it only had a plot. The more audio books I listen to, the more it makes me wonder just how little it takes to get published.
This was a rambling mess - a series non-sensical violent scenes cobbled together with characters inexplicably changing personalities mid-stream.
This is a testament to violence for violences sake - no story, no plot, shallow characterizations and painfully stupid dialog.
"what about the gun?"
"Oh, this gun?"
"Yeah, that gun".
"I don't know"
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"I mean, I don't know."
Don't waste a credit on this one.
I initially purchased Blood Meridian in audio form and enjoyed it so much that I have since purchased and read a printed copy. There are few writers capable of using descriptive language as eloquently and with such dexterity as McCarthy, who is without a doubt among the most preeminent writers of our time. His masterful depiction of the setting evokes extremely vivid imagery of the desolate, unforgiving terrain and lifelike characters. After reading Blood Meridian the first time to absorb the story, I read through the book a second time, stopping to pay particular attention to certain phrases and rereading entire scenes in order to fully appreciate the use of language.
The Judge is absolutely one of the most fascinating characters I have come across. His "suzerain" speech is among the most poignant moments in the development of a character I have ever experienced, and one of a number of glimpses into the fundamental nature of this enigmatic, preternaturally intelligent individual.
Blood Meridian, like many Cormac McCarthy novels, will stay with you long after you put it down.
No question Cormac is tops with words. But I kept wanting to go back and re-listen, thinking I must have missed something, because I had no idea what the book was trying to convey. Does a theme of raw human brutality on the wild frontier have some transcendent purpose I am too thick-headed to apprehend? Apparently so. One good thing about this kind of audio is that if I ever run out of fresh things to listen to, I can always put this on and enjoy McCarthy's word craft. But if there was some "take away" in this, I missed it. Really liked The Road and will probably listen to No Country at some point cause I loved the movie. But then again, there are a number of highly acclaimed works that I have failed to "get."
though i'm not a fan of the chapter headings which are too "detailed" like old style victorian or pre-vic novels, the "in which our hero etc. etc etc." delineating all the vital plot points of the chapters, and i realize this is partially the style he's emulating, i would rather not have any surprises or suspense diluted, this is an excellent novel. think Moby Dick crossed with the Wild Bunch and written by Jerzy Kosinski and you may have a sense of the brutality and yet the philosophically poetic language which pops up. there is depth here to be pondered, but be prepared...
They say McCarthy's knowledge of history is excellent. If this book is an indication, our western history was really tough on those that went through it. This book is the most gruesome one I have encountered. Not as good as McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, but well worth the entertaining listen.
I'll start off by saying that Cormac McCarthy is one of the most talented setter of scenes I've ever experienced. I feel that if he were to stick solely to poetry, I would like him more. Sadly, in reading Blood Meridian, this was not the case. I also enjoyed the way the author summed up each chapter in a McCammon manner, however, I feel that McCarthy was a little too straight forward about it, rather than trying to draw any complex foreshadowing.
About an hour into the book, I was reminded by a quote from a kids' movie I heard years ago: "Isn't it rather dangerous to use one's entire vocabulary in a single sentence?" But I immediately pushed this thought aside, assuming that perhaps I just wasn't on the author's level, linguistically speaking. That may very well be the case as to why this book was so difficult for me to connect with.
On another level, I read quite a bit, from those guilty pleasure young adult books to nightmarish horror novels but I consistently look for books that provide some sort of subtle foreshadowing that there is an end in sight. Personally, I love the thrill of connecting those tiny dots through the pages and conversation and upon completion, I can truly appreciate the story that has been painted by the author. Unfortunately, you never get to that point with McCarthy. Everything is simply happening in the moment. He does set you right into that scene, though sometimes in a long-winded fashion, but you never really get an insight into where this band of characters is going to end up.
One review that I read mentioned that if they were writing an eleventh grade book report, this book would be dripping in symbolism, and I 100% agree with that statement. If this were still high school, I could put on my best post modernistic facade and decisively tell you all who the Christ-like figure is, what the political views of the author were in relation to the decade that this novel was written, etc. But let's be honest, that's spreading the butter a little thin over the toast.
Additionally, the author makes it extremely hard to connect with any of his characters, whom he rarely calls by their names, if at all. This book feels like a vague, psychopathic dream, watching these violent events take place to these people that you feel absolutely nothing for. They are just things that were alive and now they're not, and then they ride on...
Cormac McCarthy also utilizes his rich, poetic vocabulary to describe the actions of these simple minded gunslingers. While some may appreciate the harsh contrast, it felt a little too much like God describing the actions of dust mites, making the void between actually getting into any of the characters' mindsets that much more difficult.
All in all, I feel as though I just spent thirteen hours reading the Bible set in the wild west, written in English and Spanish instead of Greek, Latin or Hebrew. Lots of violence for the sake of violence, meant to shock readers into thinking this was actually a complex story, when really, it was just a bleak, long-winded book about some unintelligent characters that you can't help but want to smack, take away their guns and send to bed without dinner until they learn to play nice.
"Souless and overblown"
Having adored both ‘The Road’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’ by Cormac McCarthy, I searched Audible for what else he had written and downloaded Blood Meridien. After struggling to listen to it all the way through, waiting for something to convince me it was a worthwhile use of my time, I exchanged the book for something which I would enjoy listening to again. Having seen so many other reviewers waxing lyrical about the book, I felt I just wanted to put an alternative view.
The book is really just a narrative – a descriptive account of what the characters do – there is no attempt to develop the motivations or inner personalities of the protagonists. Not even with The Kid, the main character throughout, are we ever taken inside his head to discover what’s driving him to commit his atrocities. Consequently there is no-one in the book you can actually empathise with and, for me, I simply did not care about any of the characters or what might happen to them.
Everyone in the book is horrible – no-one has the slightest redeeming feature. There is not one character with whom I could empathise in any way or care less what might happen to them.
The book is full of mindless violence and destruction, cruelty and unnecessary viciousness. Not that I have a particular problem with violence, both The Road and No Country for Old Men have a considerable share of gruesomeness. But in these you understand why people behave that way.
As for the style of writing in Blood Meridien, I suspect that there was a deliberate decision on McCarthy’s part to contrast the horrific, mindless violence of the narrative with an elaborate, beautiful prose, as an artistic device. But for me that simply did not work. I found the language of the text so overblown and blousy that it was simply irritating and, to be frank, a bit up itself.
I am sorry Mr McCarthy, I loved the other books but this one just left me cold.
"Excellent reading of an incredible novel"
violent, poetic, philosophical
a straightforward, not unncessarily dramatic reading of an awesome work of art
"The Old West was a violent and lawless place"
I'm not a big fan of Old Western's, but I can see why this book has received so much praise. Listening to this book will transport you to a hostile world of violence, harsh weather, and men who spit on the ground a lot. The author's voice is perfect for this kind of story, I can't imagine a better narrator for a Western.
I struggled with Cormac McCarthy's writing style when reading The Road. However, listening to his unique writing style as an audiobook in Blood Meridian gave me a much better experience as the prose works better when spoken aloud, in my opinion. For this reason, if you're debating whether or not to buy this an an audiobook or an e-book/paperback, get the audiobook.
There were parts in the middle of the story that I felt dragged on for a little too long. Sometimes a few pages worth of words would be narrated and I would realize I'd not taken in a single thing and I would be confused about what had happened, forcing me to either continue listening or rewind. I think this is partly because Old Western's are not really my thing, but also because the sometimes meandering middle chapters made my mind drift away at times.
Despite my occasional struggles to maintain my focus on the story, I think this is a very well written and narrated novel which does the setting and the theme justice. An excellent book for fans of Old Western literature.
Poe's gruff rattling tones lazily yet clearly enunciate each of McCarthy's carefully selected words, to describe both tremendous beauty and terrible violence which equal lucidity.
Dark, Bloody, Violent.
Its not a specific moment, it happens over the course of a few chapters, but its when the judge turns up the scary to 11 and you arn't sure if he's actually the devil or just really really bad.
He rocks, perfect tone and accent, you can feel the trail dust and heat.
There are a lot of moments when I found myself thinking 'oh please no, don't' and Mr McCarthy goes right ahead and does it. lots an lots of times. There's a feeling of inevitability to The Kid's story, its moving but in a bleak way.
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