Why I love Cormac McCarthy

Full disclosure: Cormac McCarthy is an author I put off reading for a very, very long time.

I first heard of him when I was, I don’t know, 15 or 16– high school aged. I never heard anything bad about him– indeed, he is one of the authors that one of my good friends has always recommended to me.

But it took me many years to actually get around to him.

I’m so incredibly glad that I finally did.

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I bought The Road at the bookstore which adjoins one of my coffee shops.

When I buy a new book, I usually keep my expectations low. That way I’m rarely disappointed.

For the first few pages, McCarthy’s stylistic usage of punctuation (a.k.a. lack thereof) gave me a twitch. His disuse of punctuation is unorthodox, and since I’m kind of a grammar nerd it irked me.

But the story! The descriptions! The pictures he was painting with such brevity!

I soon got over the stylized punctuation, instead reading it like poetry.

And oh, how have I fallen in love.

I’m amazed at his mastery of the English language. Somehow, with so few words, he evokes such powerful emotion, and such vivid pictures.

When I’m reading one of Cormac McCarthy’s books, I feel like I’m a guest in his brain, following each thought from its birth to its conclusion, and tracking and understanding the entire journey. His books don’t feel like books normally do to me– they really do feel like a journey.

I’ve complained before about how I burn through books, and even though The Road was a 4 hour book for me, it was a very powerful 4 hours.

I love Cormac McCarthy because he somehow accomplishes everything I strive to accomplish as a writer while using fewer words than seem possible, but he never feels like he’s skimping words. I feel like if I were to sit and talk with him, he would speak exactly how he writes.

I love Cormac McCarthy because he’s better than I’ll ever be, but not in a way that discourages me.

I just love Cormac McCarthy, guys.

    • rdlaner
    • March 27th, 2013

    Love his stuff too. Just wait til you read his other stuff, The Road is one of the most optimistic and palatable. I’ve found some of his other work takes more effort, but is still worth it.

    • Since I read the Road I’ve read All the Pretty Horses and am currently in the middle of The Crossing. They’re more difficult for me to track, just because of more characters and just as little punctuation, but I agree– still worth it!

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