In this taut, chilling audiobook, Lester Ballard - a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape - haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail. While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.
©1973 Cormac McCarthy (P)2012 Recorded Books
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Look, I've read a lot of Cormac McCarthy and this is definitely not your Mother's McCarthy. I think this novel was the final pupa-state before McCarthy emerged as an absolute dark monster of fiction and heir to Faulkner's as ambassador to the strange malevolence of America's soul.
It wasn't as absurdly redeeming as 'Suttrre' or as coldly beautiful as 'Blood Meridian', but had the surreal shock and awe of both. His themes of isolation, perversity, depravity and violence make you feel like climbing into bed with Hannibal Lector or Jame Gumb for warmth and spiritual succor.
A great novel, just not a novel that everyone should read. Wander into the dark, damp cave of this McCarthy novel at your own risk.
I rarely take the time to recommend an audio book, but it this case I must. Cormac McCarthy's usual grimness is elevated to art not just by his majestic writing but by the spot-on narration. I cannot imagine that reading this could have even half the impact of listening to it. Go listen.
As often is the case, Cormac McCarthy takes a subject on with pure evil intent and actions.
Lester Ballard is the worst kind of human animal. A pure psychopath with a twangy good ole boy voice, Lester commits the most heinous and depraved acts imaginable.
And despite this dark subject, Cormac spins it with gifted prose that cannot be mistaken for any other author. I just love this guy's writing.
I like a book that mixes horror and comedy - it's an awkward blend of suspense and release.
First off - great story, and fantastic narration.
Second, it jumps. The storyline. I know that's a thing for McCarthy, and on a written page I bet it's (hopefully) a little more obvious. But in narration, there's spots that I doubled back, even tripled back, a few times, trying to understand what was going on. Once I got it, the story moved quickly and with such great detail and description, I knew exactly what was happening; but it was those odd scene changes that were jarring, all the way through the book.
This is not my first Cormac novel; (No Country For Old Men, which is amazing to read); so I knew what to expect with the graphic violence, (which didn't bother me at all) or sexual deviance, (also didn't bother me). His sense of timing was crazy. Sometimes, a scene goes so slow, detailing the tiniest bits, taking care to provide what's going on in the character's head, and then other times he's leaping forward in bounds.
I liked it. I enjoyed it; laughed, cringed, the whole thing. Like in No Country, he didn't really spend much time on the WHY something happened; it just happened and then the story unfolds.
I'd totally recommend it to somebody to listen to. I already have. I hope the movie nails the story.
Cormack McCarthy is, as you'd expect, a master at drawing the reader into the story. At times, I could almost smell the honeysuckle on the wind of a humid Southern night. The disgusting parts are just as vividly rendered, so be forewarned.
Parts Silence of the Lambs, Deliverance and a little bit of Dexter, this is in many ways a much more disturbing read than The Road.
Tom Stechschulte is a fantastic narrator and his performance as Lester Ballard is distinct and really sells the evil that he embodies.
Satisfying read, disturbing and thought provoking.
Not for the squeamish, but recommended for McCarthy fans.
Yes. McCarthy is a generally tough read with his run-ons and lack of normal writing style. The audible version made it easy to comprehend
You can expect a little pain from Cormac McCarthy, and it's usually the kind that comes from engaging your emotional gears in a way your aren't used to, aren't prepared for, or that is just deeper than you normally experience. A soul workout you might say. In this story (it's barely long enough to be a "book") part of the pain is how you begin to sympathize with someone who is ultimately a pathetic anti-social murderer. You can see how the pain of his existence drives him to increasing desperation.
Not McCarthy's masterpiece, but definitely worthy of a listen if you like McCarthy's other stories.
By the way, the performance by Tom Stechschulte was superb.
Since discovering audible, my life is richer. I live in a small rural KS community, with higher than average IQ which can be a bad combo at times. Audible allows me to be myself.
Ok, I had to rate the book high because it's one of the darkest hillbilly novels I've read to date. (if you like this you will love "the devil all the time") If you think you will be a better person for reading it, you won't. If you like to travel to dark places that aren't filled with demons you have found the right book.
This is a story you have to read in order to believe that someone could write it. It is like a train wreck; you just cannot stop looking. Though I'm glad I read it, I wish I could unread it in some ways.
I noticed some interesting connections to Beowulf and one to J Alfred Prufrock. Good stuff, I guess.
Haunting Terrible Reality
Ballard. Despite being the lowest and most disgusting form of human possible, I found myself somehow hoping for his survival. Maybe simply because I was being selfish and wanted more story to unfold.
Ballard again. The evolution and grittiness of his character is believable and deep.
Listening to any Cormac McCarthy book leaves you feeling drained and miserable yet reflecting on everything you just went through. His descriptive narratives always pull you in and you get lost imagining and living out the events, even the ones you wish you didn't have to. This book is no different.
"Plenty of dark and not much light"
he is excellent in both
The narration was excellent. On its own the book deserves less than the 4 stars I have given. This is my 4th Cormack McCarthy novel and the least impressive. It is a character study of a depraved down and out. But it is short on the study and long on the depravity. I enjoy reading about the dark side of human nature but I found little justification or insight in this example.
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