Cormac McCarthy–An Original Trailblazer and Forward Thinker

It’s difficult to fathom the death of the great American novelist Cormac McCarthy, as he was one of the most revered, yet his works were often declared too bloody, and too violent. This may be true, but the language he used was unparalleled, whimsical, and lyrical, transporting readers into a place where they felt unnerved and invigorated. His debut novel, the Orchard Keeper, which was published in 1965, earned McCarthy no money but it did earn him some acclaim and a cult following.

McCarthy’s prose was unique in substance and form, totally biting at the tail of conventions and structure, which was brazen and controversial, though he didn’t really care about judgements and backlash. He did what he wanted, creating stories that were brutal and magical, formed from his relentlessly innovative imagination. Breaking moulds was his thing, crafting memorable fables was his forte, and dreaming up reckless characters and themes was his bread and butter.

The Western genre was McCarthy’s main literary playground, where he designed worlds that basked in realism, that managed to bring excitement to readers. His novels were iconic for being unsettling pieces of wonder too, works that nestled in the mind, which quite frankly shocked some critics but also enlightened others. Some said his books were too unconventional for the commercial circuit, too chaotic and blood-drenched, though McCarthy didn’t care about the mainstream, anyway.

His breakthrough novel was All The Pretty Horses, which catapulted him into the limelight and earned him immense acclaim. An epic western, it inspired many writers to try to write like the master, but many couldn’t drive home the same messages and those sublime, intricate passages. After its release, many cited All The Pretty Horses as being a masterclass in storytelling and a thrill ride through the carnage of the outback.

McCarthy also wrote two other books that made up the Border Trilogy. Those two books, The Crossing and Cities Of The Plain, were again poignant and bloody, encapsulating worlds that were heart-thumping and dangerous. The style again was mind-bending, as McCarthy swerved past the notion of adding general punctuation and general formatting, but the man didn’t care much for abiding by the rules.

It was 1985’s epic Blood Meridian that was hailed as McCarthy’s magnum opus, a book crafted with intricacy and flair, and a whole load of blood and torturous vibes. McCarthy created characters that were merciless and broken-hearted, running from broken homes, and rummaging through the outback for some sort of truth.

It was a masterclass in storytelling from McCarthy, as every line measured up, and though it was hailed eventually, it took a little time before it warmed the hearts of readers. Some said it was too chaotic, too hard-boiled, and definitely too violent, and that meant early reviews were patchy. But after the wash of inconsistent reviews, Blood Meridian truly blew minds.

2006 was a year when McCarthy totally instilled his style into a post-apocalyptic novel called The Road. Such a sombre tale. It followed a man and his son through desolation as the world was crumbling before their dusty eyes. The premise was simple, but the writing was not, as McCarthy described the scorched land with true vigour, and it was like he kept his best details for this one.

The Road was made into a movie and the book earned McCarthy the coveted Pulitzer Prize for fiction, which he deserved. Many said The Road was McCarthy’s finest work, his tour de force, and a gem in the post-apocalyptic genre. The language used was broad, imaginative, heart-breaking, and solemn, and it showed McCarthy’s genius.

It had taken 16 years for McCarthy to release anything new. The 2022 epic The Passenger came out of nowhere really, but it kept McCarthy’s relevance intact, as well as dealing with themes such as the making of the atomic bomb, mathematics, and two flawed characters. The Passenger was a part of a duo, as Stella Maris was released a few months later. Maris incorporated a different concept and style, and it was dialogue driven. It followed a girl in a mental facility, who spoke to her psychiatrist Dr Cohen and revealed her darkest secrets. This novel showed that McCarthy had the know-how to be brave and forward-thinking, although we already knew he had it in his locker.

Cormac McCarthy was a standout poet, a writer who seemed to have magical powers, creating these worlds with the utmost credibility and detail. His work blew a trail through the literary community, and his writing was fed by intelligence, workmanship, and even some beauty, though his writing was macabre, cut-throat, and explicit. Those lines he wrote were always concise and deeply moving too, formidably executed and straight to the gut.

So who will take his place as the great American novelist??? There are not many around now, and definitely not many writers with the natural talent that McCarthy possessed.

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