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Old 07-02-2014, 12:16 PM   #1
khazaddum
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About prose: Cormac McCarthy or Ian McEwan?

OK so lately I have been considering going from my habit of reading 19th century classics and fantasy exclusively to reading some newer fiction.

What I dread about more contemporary books or styles is that the author's use of the language may be too "simple", instead of the florid and elegant language that i.e. Charles Dickens mastered to the point where reading his works, to me, is like listening to Mozart or staring at a work by Da Vinci.

So, in my search for contemporary authors who can provide with a similar experience when reading their works, I've constantly come across this two names: Cormac McCarthy and Ian McEwan.

I have never read anything by them, and would like to know if someone can provide with a comparison, not only of their prose but also of their styles and settings/stories, in order to know which one to start with.
So thanks!
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Old 07-02-2014, 12:43 PM   #2
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There is a certain richness in southern gothic fiction, as well, that reminds me of the greatness of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope. (I'm not talking about the subject matter here, but rather the richness of language, the involvement of language, the beauty of language).

I, too, share your liking for the masters of 19th C. prose fiction.
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Old 07-02-2014, 12:52 PM   #3
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I, too, share your liking for the masters of 19th C. prose fiction.
You also like looooong books and series.
Have a look at this:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blog...n-in-love.html
http://us.macmillan.com/mystrugglebook1/KarlKnausgaard
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Old 07-02-2014, 01:04 PM   #4
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Cormac McCarthy and Ian McEwan.

I have never read anything by them, and would like to know if someone can provide with a comparison
I have tried reading one book by Cormac McCarthy - The Road.
Do not make the same error as I did - do not start reading that book without finding out something about the book. There are plenty of reviews. Try reading a short sample before purchase ;-)
You have compared reading of books written by Charles Dickens to listening to Mozart. I would compare reading The Road to listening to Techno-Trash-Metal.

I do not know, perhaps his other books are ... different. I am unlikely to find out, because I will never *ever* read anything he wrote.
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Old 07-02-2014, 03:34 PM   #5
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I have tried reading one book by Cormac McCarthy - The Road.
Do not make the same error as I did - do not start reading that book without finding out something about the book. There are plenty of reviews. Try reading a short sample before purchase ;-)
You have compared reading of books written by Charles Dickens to listening to Mozart. I would compare reading The Road to listening to Techno-Trash-Metal.

I do not know, perhaps his other books are ... different. I am unlikely to find out, because I will never *ever* read anything he wrote.
Exactly the same for me, except the music comparison would be hardcore gangsta rap.
Whether his writing style was an affectation, or simply lazy, I couldn't get to the end of the first page without literally throwing the paperback against the wall in disgust, never to be picked up again. (Well I did pick it up, but only to put it waaaaaaaay in the back row of my triple stuffed bookshelf).
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Old 07-02-2014, 03:44 PM   #6
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That's me!

Thank you for the links above. (I picked up volume 1, that I mentioned in another thread, but I have yet to read it.)
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Old 07-02-2014, 05:01 PM   #7
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... I couldn't get to the end of the first page without literally throwing the paperback against the wall in disgust, never to be picked up again.
Lucky you ;-). I have read much longer sample. I was much more ... disturbed by the actual contents of the book than by the unusual writing style, punctuation and grammar.
After going through about a third of the book (you see, I am *very* persistent) I gave up and went to the net to look up how the book was going to develop. After that I had to look for some mental bleach that would help me to remove the images from my mind.
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Old 07-02-2014, 05:54 PM   #8
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I appreciate McCarthy's prose even more than his stories themselves. "The Road" was impossibly bleak and his prose matched that story so well. "Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West" was disturbingly senseless but, at times, the prose was achingly poetic.
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:23 AM   #9
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thank you for the replies! I will not try McCarthy, apparently it will not be for me lol.

Any other suggestions?
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Old 07-04-2014, 03:50 PM   #10
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thank you for the replies! I will not try McCarthy, apparently it will not be for me lol.

Any other suggestions?
Don't let our opinions put you off totally. At least try McCarthy and make your own mind up. I couldn't handle the lack of punctuation or confusing (to me) dialogue, but many, many people thought the book was brilliant. See if you can find a sample chapter and give it a shot.
I'd be curious to see what opinion you have.
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Old 07-04-2014, 04:46 PM   #11
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I thought The Road and Blood Meridian were both brilliant. But, I can understand why some don't like it.

One alternative I would suggest would be The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt.
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:09 AM   #12
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I thought The Road and Blood Meridian were both brilliant. But, I can understand why some don't like it.

One alternative I would suggest would be The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt.
I would second the Sister Brothers and perhaps also suggest The Goldfinch by Donna Tarrit. I distinctly remember admiring the prose in both of these however in the case of the later I couldn't stand the characters, story or ending but I think I'm in the minority on that.
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:41 PM   #13
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Yes I will get a sample of The Road and see if I like it. Probably I shall look more into McEwan. Thanks for the suggestion of DeWitt, I hadn't heard of him before.
Odd thing to admit, that I am kind of lost regarding good contemporary writers.
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Old 07-14-2014, 11:29 AM   #14
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I can definitely see the connection between enjoying 19th century literature and enjoying McEwan's prose. He has a pretty descriptive, vivid style, which is pretty different from the sparse style of McCarthy. While, in general, McEwan writes in a style to which I'm more drawn, I've read one book by each (Atonement v. The Road) and I far preferred the latter. Atonement is one of my least favourite books I've ever read; I disliked it in the way that leaves you angry for days following!
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Old 07-14-2014, 12:02 PM   #15
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Two more recent books that come to mind for the writing - largely because they're consciously written to emulate "older", 19th century style - are Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries (winner of last year's Man Booker, literary historical fiction) and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (which is ... hmm, literary historical fantasy?).

I enjoyed both books fairly well; not as much as others but more than some.

ETA: Sorry for going off-topic - neither McCarthy nor McEwan have appealed to me enough to read either, but it just occurred to me that in addition to those two, the OP might be interested in other contemporary writers that might fit the bill.

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