©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.
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."
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.
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 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'm not sure of how to fully explain it, but this book is worth listening to. It's insanely violent and a little tough to get through the first part, but if you stick with it, it's beautifully written.
"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.
This is probably one of my favourite books ever. I was shocked but engrossed when I read it and now I have actually heard it in my head I find it even more disturbing. But brilliant nonetheless.
"He says He cannot die!"
This book is beyond words. One of the greatest books ever.
Buy it right now
The narrator truly was amazing.
Richard poe is probably the best narrator on audible, and Cormac McCarthy has moved into 2nd behind Tolkien as authors that have really, really made an impression on me.
"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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