There they had a son, Cullen, in Dismayed with the situation, she moved to Wyoming, where she filed for divorce and landed her first job teaching. McCarthy decided to send the manuscript to Random House because "it was the only publisher [he] had heard of. While on the ship, he met Anne DeLisle, who was working on the Sylvania as a singer. In , they were married in England. Also in , McCarthy received a Rockefeller Foundation Grant, which he used to travel around Southern Europe before landing in Ibiza , where he wrote his second novel, Outer Dark
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Son: Are we going to die? Father: No. Son: Are you sure? Father: Yes. Then they wander around for a bit or run from crazy people, and we finally get the cap to the conversation: Son: Why did terrible thing just happen? Father: Stares off in silence Son: Why did terrible thing just happen? Nor does it seem to make much sense. McCarthy never demonstrates how such a disconnect arose between two people who are constantly intimate and reliant on one another. But then, McCarthy confided to Oprah that the is book about his relationship with his own son, so it makes sense why the emotional content is completely at odds with the setting.
The boy is constantly terrified, and his chief role involves pointing at things and screaming, punctuating every conflict in the book, like a bad horror film. Cannibals and dead infants are an okay if cliche place to start when it comes to unsettling the reader, but just having the characters react histrionically does not build tension, especially when the characters are too flat to be sympathetic in the first place.
A child not screaming when he finds a dead infant. The young boy has never known another world--his world is death and horror. And you know what would make a great book?
A father who remembers the old world trying to prevent his son from becoming a callous monster because of the new one. The characters never grow numb to it, they never seem to suffer PTSD, their reactions are more akin to angst.
Every time there is a problem, the characters just fold in on themselves and give up. People really only do that when they have the luxury of sitting about and ruminating on what troubles them. There is no joy or hope in this book--not even the fleeting, false kind. Everything is constantly bleak. Yet human beings in stressful, dangerous situations always find ways to carry on: small victories, justifications, or even lies and delusions.
Apparently, McCarthy cannot even think of a plausible reason why human beings would want to survive. There is nothing engaging about a world sterilized of all possibility. People always create a way out, even when there is none. What is tragic is not a lack of hope, but misplaced hope.
I could perhaps appreciate a completely empty world as a writing exercise, but as McCarthy is constantly trying to provoke emotional reactions, he cannot have been going for utter bleakness.
This is tragedy porn. Suburban malaise is equated with the most remote and terrible examples of human pain. And so the privileged can read about how their pain is the same as the pain of those starving children they mute during commercial breaks.
They recycle. They turn the water off when they brush their teeth. They buy organic. They even thought about joining the Peace Corps. Their guilt is assuaged. They are free to bask in their own radiant anguish. Indeed, there is a self-satisfied notion that trying to look at the world sullies the pure artist.
Then again, he may honestly not have much insight on the topic. Awards committees run on politics, and choosing McCarthy is a political decision--an attempt to declare that insular, American arrogance is somehow still relevant. But the world seems content to move ahead without America and its literature, which is why no one expects McCarthy--or any American author--to win a Nobel any time soon.
This book is a paean to the obliviousness of American self-importance in our increasingly global, undifferentiated world.
One way or the other, it will stand as a testament to the last gasp of a dying philosophy: either we will collapse under our own in-fighting and short-sightedness, or we will be forced to evolve into something new and competitive--a bloated reputation will carry you only so far.
But then, the Pulitzer committee is renowned for picking unadventurous winners--usually an unremarkable late entry by an author past their prime.
As William Gass put it: "the prize is simply not given to work of the first rank, rarely even to the second; and if you believed yourself to be a writer of that eminence, you are now assured of being over the hill" To any genre reader, this book will have a familiar and unpleasant taste, the same one LeGuin has often lamented: that of the big name author slumming.
Luckily for such writers, none of their lit fic critics know anything about other genres--any sort of bland rehash will feel fresh to them, as long as you have the name-recognition to get them to look in the first place. So, McCarthy gets two stars for a passable if cliche script for a sci fi adventure movie, minus one star for unconscionable denigration of human suffering. All I see is another author who got too big for his editors and, finding himself free to write whatever he wanted--only proved that he no longer has anything worth saying.
With descriptions that are merely lists Where stupid people say insipid stuff to each other.
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