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Old 06-13-2019, 01:52 PM   #1
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Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

'An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the "wild west." Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.'

Full title- Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

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Anyone can discuss any part or aspect at any time, though a softly recommended discussion timeframe is given below.
-The first quarter within a week
-The second quarter within two weeks
-The third quarter within three weeks
-The fourth quarters within four weeks


This is the MR Literary Club selection for June 2019. Everyone is welcome so feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time; the more the merrier!



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Old 06-13-2019, 02:01 PM   #2
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I'm excited for this book. We haven't read an American book in the lit club since the Patricia Highsmith last September, and you can't hardly get more American than a Western!

As I mentioned before, I'd read McCarthy's The Road and enjoyed it, and it's definitely an experience in lit style. From the sample I read of this before voting this one also looks to have a distinct style.
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Old 06-17-2019, 09:11 PM   #3
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sunsurfer, I’ll be interested to know how you think this book compares to McCarthy’s other works. He has been noted by critics as a disciple of Melville and Faulkner.

I borrowed the book from my library and have read three chapters so far. The literary style is definitely different such as creative use of punctuation and interesting phrasing and structure of sentences. I like how the chapters are formatted with list headings like older style books. The vocabulary is also a distinct, and my dictionary is getting a work out! He chooses his words to fit the time period and the atmosphere.
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Old 06-19-2019, 03:43 PM   #4
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How about that description of the Comanches and the subsequent battle in Chapter IV! That was quite some vivid and brutal imagery and sentences longer than one Kindle screen.
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Old 06-21-2019, 06:02 PM   #5
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Just getting there now! Not too long ago I watched The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which is an anthology western film. One of the segments featured a brutal assault by Native American Indians that my mind immediately went to when I started reading this part.
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Old 06-21-2019, 07:39 PM   #6
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I have passed the one third mark. The imagery is so overpowering and raw that you have to take this book in small doses. I saw your post in the audiobook thread. A whiny voice for the kid is not true to the feel of the book. He is a hardened youth accustomed to violence and fighting for your own survival. These are different times when kids grew up fast under difficult circumstances.
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Old 06-23-2019, 08:56 PM   #7
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I am about a third of my way through now. It is hard for me to say that it is a book to enjoy in the "it is a happy story" manner, but in the sense of its style, story and apparent honesty (so far) I do like the book. My dictionary is getting a workout as McCarthy uses (apart from the Mexican Spanish) some interesting word usages and twists on those in metaphors.

Where it is leading to I do not know but the story carries well for me so far. I suspect the book would be unattractive to those who subscribe to the noble savage and the golden era views of history, and disturbing for those of an exaggerated wokiness leading to a hatred of characters of long past uncomfortable history or who are squeamish; but I don't think such things should detract from considering a work as good literature, especially if it is honest as this book seems to me to be so far.

The book came to mind to me with reference to the sun mainly due to its Evening Redness in the West subtitle and the little I knew about it, but I am impressed by the many references to "westwards", "twilight", "dusk" etc. An example snip that has stuck in my mind is "Itinerant degenerates bleeding westward like some heliotropic plague".

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Old 07-04-2019, 01:26 PM   #8
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It is hard for me to say that it is a book to enjoy in the "it is a happy story" manner, but in the sense of its style, story and apparent honesty (so far) I do like the book. My dictionary is getting a workout as McCarthy uses (apart from the Mexican Spanish) some interesting word usages and twists on those in metaphors.

Where it is leading to I do not know but the story carries well for me so far.
I agree with these points very much! I am hoping to finish up the book over the long holiday weekend here in the US. I am in the second half of the book and still not sure where it's heading and how it will end. I'm speculating the wrap-up will be pretty powerful.
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Old 07-04-2019, 01:55 PM   #9
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I'm in a similar position being about 3/5 through right now. I generally listen to audiobooks faster but I found myself re-listening to large swaths of this book over again because of the harsh lyrical quality of the writing and the vivid imagery.
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Old 07-04-2019, 02:22 PM   #10
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I've been holding off reading any critiques of the book until I finish. I think there will be some interesting thoughts on love it or hate it out there.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:47 PM   #11
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Wow! I finished the book this afternoon. What a stunning and unexpected ending! I'm still not sure how I interpret it. Such a thought-provoking and complex book! I'm glad that we read this one.

I'm interested to hear others thoughts and whether we have similar or different conclusions as a group. There are so many different paths for interpretations. I'm going to have to think on this one for a while and revisit some earlier parts of the novel to piece together how the ending fits into the grand themes and what I think the different characters represented.
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Old 07-08-2019, 12:05 AM   #12
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Wow! I finished the book this afternoon. What a stunning and unexpected ending! I'm still not sure how I interpret it. Such a thought-provoking and complex book! I'm glad that we read this one.

I'm interested to hear others thoughts and whether we have similar or different conclusions as a group. There are so many different paths for interpretations. I'm going to have to think on this one for a while and revisit some earlier parts of the novel to piece together how the ending fits into the grand themes and what I think the different characters represented.
I finished it yesterday and can but echo your comments.
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Old 07-08-2019, 01:07 AM   #13
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Here’s an initial statement.

Spoiler:
A few initial thoughts.... I don’t think the Judge and the Kid are the same character. I think they are separate entities. I don’t think there was a supernatural element such that the Judge is the Devil, but he is certainly demonic-like in my opinion.
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Old 07-31-2019, 11:27 PM   #14
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I have been wondering what to write about this book, I think one could write a book about it if so inclined. For myself, I'd rate as one of the best novels I have read, certainly among modern ones. That not because it was a pleasant story, it being loosely based on the brutal activities of the Glanton Gang (of which the real Judge Holden was also a member), but for its honesty, imagery and the relentless flow of the story written in flowing prose.

The book is so full of fine imagery I could not settle on any specific examples that particularly impressed me to quote, there are too many, I can turn to almost any page to find them. Everything described and used was real and correct, not contrived and came across as being based on experience or careful research; how campfire flames moved in the wind, how wolves crouched, the horses, the geographic and geologic features, the brutality, the filth, etc..

It was relentlessly honest with no fine and dishonest depictions of noble settlers and noble savages, times were hard and could be very brutal. The characters were not all in well laundered clothes, scrubbed faces, shampooed hair as one could readily be misled to accept as usual from films and TV. Instead filth, lice, smells, no "golden age".

I generally do not go looking for propaganda in novels and rarely make any assumptions as to what the author's message, if any, was. For myself, I felt the story fitted into a theme of the westward march of settlement and the conflagrations along that way. At the get go the title and subtitle of the book hints at that and for me the Epilogue does the same including alluding to the relentlessness of it - and alluding to the conflicts along the way (He strikes fire in the hole and draws out his steel. Then they all move on again.)

And did the Man die, I think he did, Judge Holden was to be the last man standing and the death was to be terrible. The Boy was born under a meteor shower and died under one (Stars were falling across the sky myriad and random, speeding along brief vectors from their origins in night to their destinies in dust and nothingness.), the stars are on a path throughout the book.

In the end, for myself, I am not inclined to concern myself as to whether or not McCarthy had any special messages to deliver, but take the events of the time as a frame for an honestly depicted and well written story.

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Old 08-07-2019, 12:26 AM   #15
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This novel was a 5-star read for me. I've been wondering what others thought about it. I thought the writing was fantastic. I highlighted so many passages as I was reading. I'm really glad that we picked it. I chose also to read it as raw and real about how harsh the time period was to survive and not look for any propaganda motifs. The story takes place in the region where I live so I really could visualize the setting from my own experiences traveling through the desert and having been to some of the places mentioned. I'm constantly thinking about how did earlier people traverse this area when there were no roads and air conditioning. It just amazes me trying to imagine what life was like. It was not easy is an understatement!

I'm still thinking about the ending and how ambiguous it was. I think he died too, but I read some compelling arguments on the internet by people who think he didn't. Interesting comments about the stars. I hadn't thought about that.

I love the first line "See the child." Such a simple statement. The kid wasn't such a naive young child when we first meet him, growing up in such a difficult household and choosing to run away. Yet he is innocent compared to the things he sees and does in the West that transform him. And of course "the kid" is no longer "a kid" by the last scene.
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