©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 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 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 decided to read this book after finishing Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which was perhaps the most profound novel I have read for years. When I saw that Blood Meridian, not The Road, is widely considered to be McCarthy's masterpiece, I had to check it out.
I'm sad to say that I was very disappointed. In true McCarthy style, the book is written in vivid prose that relies heavily on similes. Some of the scenes--the Indian attack on the dry lake, for instance--are among the most skillfully illustrated scenes I've ever encountered, and their breathtaking imagery will remain with me for a long time.
Unfortunately, McCarthy's unique talent with words and cadence is not enough to overcome the book's failings. Perhaps because of the history upon which it is based, the book's plot is threadbare. There is no readily discernible arc or story or conflict. The book's main character disappears for hours at a time, removing all feelings of investment on the part of the reader. The book is, with only a few exceptions, comprised of repeated and verbose descriptions of wandering in a desert waste punctuated by scenes of perhaps the most grotesque violence in modern fiction. There were scenes in Blood Meridian that were so horrific and depraved that I nearly abandoned the book.
But unlike the violence in The Road, which serves to convey an important statement about the nature of men and to create a contrasting background against which McCarthy paints the goodness of the man and the boy, Blood Meridian's violence strikes me as gratuitous revelry. McCarthy seems to bask in the blood and cruelty, lingering for far too long on scenes of terrible evil without ever offering a balance. There are no good men in Blood Meridian, only oppressive, repeated, unspeakable evil. There are no real protagonists or characters with whom readers can identify or connect. There are just bad men who offer varying degrees of evil, and who ride around the desert committing atrocities. The book suffers immensely for this lack of moral grounding. It becomes a lacerating, demoralizing slog toward no particular goal or closure. Perhaps McCarthy wished to make a statement by writing the book this way, but I found that it greatly diminished my ability to become connected with the story or the characters in any meaningful way.
The sole saving grace on the character front is the Judge. Preternaturally intelligent and entirely amoral, he is perhaps the most enigmatic character I've ever encountered. Literature classes all over the country have puzzled over the Judge and his role. Is he God? Is he the devil? Is he simply the incarnation of the entirety of man? Is he even real? The character McCarthy created in Holden is simply brilliant, and I found myself simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by him. The book's closing chapters focus heavily on the Judge, and are arguably the best portion of the entire novel.
I will give the story two stars because of McCarthy's raw prowess with language, the fascinating case study in evil and knowledge offered by the Judge, and the strength of the final chapters. Overall, though, I struggled to enjoy the book. And given its length, that is a real problem.
One final point: The narrator did an outstanding job interpreting, coloring, and bringing to life McCarthy's often impenetrable prose. Five stars for narration.
I rate this audiobook highly for a number of reasons, firstly I thought the audiobook narrator was perfect, secondly the narrative is satisfyingly long and realistic with a touch of mysticism to the story and so incredibly detailed and metaphorical in it's descriptions of such a hot and desolate world and it's desperate inhabitants, thirdly the author does what I think an author should and that is make me smile with respect and awe at his ability to use words to paint the picture in his mind, something I find hard to do! Finally I think people should be reminded of how humans can act and have acted through history to secure land for our "great civilizations" and "honerable" way of life....
"Madness, Violence and Greed"
The mythology of the European settlement of America begins with the search for the religious sanctuary of the Mayflower, and is enshrined in the Constitution which recognizes the equality of all men. What also saturates and permeates the American psyche is barbaric violence. Blood Meridian is a story that can't be listened to without a break for emotional recovery: it's so vicious, violent and remorseless that it is unbearable. This, of course, is the book's greatness. It's an epic saga of pitiless aggression, automatic racism, all stemming for the false self-belief, and religious hypocrisy of one of the central characters. In our contemporary society where the aim is to present the campaigns of war as fights for rights and freedom, and all of this is presented in a video game format, Blood Meridian, keeps to the fore what is still essential: the depravity of men who cannot limit or challenge their own ignorance, madness and blood lust.
This book is not for the faint-hearted. It is full of strong and often disturbing images which some readers, frankly, won't want to hear. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful book, packed with dark yet stunning pictures and scenes. McCarthy paints a series of magical realist images which, like all great art, touch the imagination deep and point to truth. A word too about the narration. Richard Poe has a mature, rich voice and reads the book with a strength and beauty which I couldn't imaging being bettered.
"beauty and the beast"
a cruel, searing, oppressive, brutal, savage, barbaric and overwhelming journey of the human soul that is a brilliant, dazzling, heart-stopping and mind-bending piece of literature. i am still numbed from this experience.
Classic Cormac McCarthy, gritty, no-holds barred and catalogueing a brutal frontier world completely devoid of emotion and sentimentality - not for the squeamish!
"savage, terrible, beautiful,.."
...and in the end enigmatic.
I will never forget the judge, the kid, glanton and the rest.
and I will NEVER forget the desert.
McCarthy has managed to create the most hopeless and bleak world in modern literature. A must listen, but not for the faint-hearted.
"Visionary, violent, yet redemptive. A masterpiece."
Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, is the most overwhelming novel I've read for years. I came late to it in two senses. It's almost 30 years since it was published in 1985, and it is late in my own reading life, because I'm 72. I read it on holiday. Not a comfortable choice, and certainly not the best thing to relax with on a sunlounger, while supping a drink with a hat on. But Blood Meridian is, at the risk of sounding pretentious, on a par with Faulkner's 'As I Lay Dying' or Beckett's 'Waiting For Godot' or even that most astounding work of all, 'King Lear'. High claims, but give it a try.
You might well have to try it more than once, because it is very strong - at times even rancid - meat. But a lot of people, after they've finished the book, might find they can't read another novel for a while.
I finished listening to the book, and started another. But all my head could think on was Blood Meridian. So I did something I very rarely do. I switched the other novel off and turned back to Blood Meridian, and listened to it again. It's a hell of a book. And I'm not speaking particularly metaphorically. It tells us more about the human condition than most other respectable works we laud so much. Blood Meridian is original, disturbing, heretical, challenging, difficult, and awe inspiring. Just like King Lear.
Wow, what a book, I was enthralled by the tale, the use of language, so concise, painting a picture in my mind in a few well chosen words. An epic not for the faint hearted. The narrator was perfect and I found myself wanting to hear it all, and at the same time make it last longer. I could not stop thinking about the book even when not listening, and even now, months later, the imagery in my mind is still crystal clear.
"Better than 'The Road'..."
What an intense read (listen)! Written around '85 Blood Meridien has the same desolate intensity and horror which we have seen more recently with The Road. An amazing listen
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