Sunday, May 24, 2009

Outer Dark

Outer Dark is the second novel by Cormac McCarthy. It is a 242 page trip through hell, or to hell, I can't decide which. Both really. The story is set in Appalachia. I love Appalachia stories. I don't know why. Never been there, don't really want to go. Past life thing? Or just too much VC Andrews in my formative years?
Anyway, Outer Dark is the story of Culla and Rinthy Holme, an impoverished, incestuous brother and sister team who go on separate journeys of damnation and redemption. Rinthy is searching for their child that Culla left to die in the woods. Culla, although he says he is searching for his sister, is really trying to escape his sin. Along the way the siblings are shadowed by three mysterious and dangerous strangers. In other words, this is not beach reading.
The following passage is part of the reason I love McCarthy. "What did ye give?" she said. "I'll make it up to ye. Whatever ye give. And that nurse fee." The tinker jerked his arm away. He leaned his face toward her. "Give," he said. "I give a lifetime wanderin in a country where I was despised. Can you give that? I give forty years strapped in front of a cart like a mule till I couldn't stand straight to be hanged. I've got not soul one in this world save a old halfcrazy sister that nobody never would have liked they never would me. I been rocked and shot at and whipped and kicked and dogbit from one end of this state to the other and you cain't pay that back. You ain't got nothin to pay it with. Them accounts is in blood and they ain't nothin in this world to pay em out with."
And more typical of McCarthy: She had begun to keen softly into her hands. The tinker could hear it a long way down the road. He could hear it far over the cold and smoking fields of autumn, his pans knelling in the night like buoys on some dim and barren coast, and he could hear it fading and hear it die lost as the cry of seabirds in the vast and salt black solitudes they keep.
I wish I could write like that. Instead I tend to resort to swearing and overuse of the word "dude." McCarthy is a terrifying and beautiful writer, and I love, love, love him so for it.

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