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The Real McCARTHY
Cormac McCarthy, the author of many "American styled" novels such as Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses, and The Crossing, writes very good stories that appeal to the senses and the soul. He doesn’t have famous writing "heroes" that give him an inspiration to write, nor give him ideas of what to write. Because of this lack of models, McCarthy has some characteristics of other famous American authors, but for the most part he uses a unique style of writing that is shown in all of his novels, and ties together The Crossing and its predecessor All the Pretty Horses using expressive theme, obscure symbols, eerie motifs, and a unequaled prose.
When looking at McCarthy’s writing as a whole, one can see a style that is beyond the "norm." Critics compare his work to life in our world, "…his singular ability to convey the world not so much as a place of pigeon holes but rather of endless questions, none more clearly explained than another" (Young 100), and they compare his work to life beyond the realm of our world, "McCarthy’s metaphysical assumptions are existential. Human consciousness of the past exists within each person in memories and contacts, held in an ongoing meaning by individuals as fragments, subject to loss as memory dims and subject to arbitrary changes without order or meaning" (Richey 141).
These same critics compare McCarthy’s writing to past writers saying that McCarthy shares some aspects of his writing with Thomas Pynchon, Edmund Wilson, Saul Bellow, and James Joyce. "A sophisticated reader on first looking into Joyce’s Ulysses might well wonder about the meaning of what is going on. A reader on first looking into McCarthy’s fiction might well wonder, just what is going on" (Aldridge 90). Aldridge also goes on to say that McCarthy is "fantastically gifted." Critics also state that: Aristotle and E.M. Forster would not have approved with McCarthy’s style (Aldridge 96). The classic authors may not have approved with McCarthy’s style because of his use of extreme violence. "Sociopaths, serial killers, necrophiliacs, and murders populate pages wherein mayhem, blood, and generally malevolence dominate his works" (Richey 140).
The most perfect example of McCarthy’s original style is visible through his latest two novels entitled All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing, the first two installments of the Border Trilogy. These books show a transformation of McCarthy’s style from an utter non-stop violent rampage (Blood Meridian), to a style that contains morals, theme and heart.
McCarthy possesses an extremely narrow vision condition of the human and almost no vision of the subtler complexities of human feeling and thought. These deficiencies began to be evident in the early fiction but were to a degree camouflaged by the high elegance of the prose and the idiosyncratic originality of the fictional forms. In the first two books of the [Border] trilogy they have become more clearly visible, because the prose is no longer elegant and the form is wide open and relentlessly picaresque (Aldridge 97).
Another bond between the two novels, is the sharing of character traits. The protagonists, John Grady Cole, and Billy Parham from All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing, respectively, share similar quests and themes. "The two Border Trilogy novels have shown characters who love and weep and seem to have much in common with that part of the human species not labeled as murderers and evildoers" (Richey 141). John and Billy both traveled to Mexico on multiple occasions, giving the novels the label "The Border Trilogy." However even though they had alike characteristics, their purposes for traveling were different and they both went about achieving their goals in different manners. "While Billy focused on the need to mete out a personal justice, John rushed headlong into the swirling chaos which surrounds him" (Young 99). McCarthy, being the genius that he is, also tied the two books together with character, by ending both novels in the same fashion. "At the end [of The Crossing] Billy, like John Grady, is on the road again, drifting from one menial job to another, having nothing to show for his wandering and presumably destined to come to nothing" (Aldridge 96).
How does McCarthy’s use of character tie into his style? It’s simple. McCarthy is able to use parallel
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The Border Trilogy, Guggenheim Fellows, Cormac McCarthy, Border Trilogy, Blood Meridian, The Crossing, American literature
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