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Posts Tagged ‘Cormac McCarthy’

Cormac McCarthy.  Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West.  New York: Random House, 1985.

It’s not hard to argue that westerns are, in essence, the American myth. The frontier features large in the American psyche; whereas ancient Greece might have the Trojan War, the secular American state looks back to the mid-nineteenth century as its golden age of heroes and villains. The collective narrative of western settlement has little to do with the realities of frontier life. The Wild West is a construct, as much a fantasyland as Middle Earth, only that fabled land of Cowboys & Indians is much closer to ancient myth in its collective ownership by whatever author comes along to partake. In it dwell figures reduced to archetypes: Daniel Boone, the sheriff, the gunslinger, the bandit, the Indian, and the like. Westerns are a sort of fantasy, expressed in the same language—look at The Dark Tower series and how easily western tropes fall into Arthurian legend.

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I’ve become weary of stepping into the sf community at large, since the whole place is so volatile even the slightest stumble can set off a spark leading to mass conflagration. The fantasy vs. science fiction debate is bad enough (just…why?), and while watching various authors bump heads is fun for a while I ultimately just end up feeling sad and more than a little conflicted about what the heck I’m doing with an sf blog when the community as a whole is, sometimes, downright insane.

However, I’ve been reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It is, unsurprisingly, a great novel (I never thought I would say that about any book featured in Oprah’s book club): McCarthy’s prose style is simply wonderful even if the content is extraordinarily bleak. However, thoughts drift from an America crawling with cannibal conquerors to the sf community-at-large and its hugely negative reaction to outsiders stepping into its territory. Outsiders like Cormac McCarthy, daring to write some post-apocalyptic goodness and winning a Pulitzer for his efforts, even though he never wrote no science fiction before. Whenever a “literary” writer starts up on a science fiction or fantasy project, expect a vehement outcry from authors and readers alike in some corner of the internet.

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