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All the Pretty Horses ()

National Book Award Winners (1992)

For the first twenty or thirty years of his career Cormac McCarthy was a little known but critically acclaimed cult author.  Hailed as the heir to Faulkner, his books were Southern gothic--drenched in violence, incest, necrophilia,  etc.  But with the publication of Blood Meridian in 1985, McCarthy began to turn his attention to the American West and in 1992, All the Pretty Horses, the first book in what ended up being his Border Trilogy, established him as a Western author and, not coincidentally, won him the audience and mainstream awards that had previously eluded him.  (The novel won the 1992 National Book Award for fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1993.)  It also lead to the inevitable sniping by his adherents; many said he had sold out, others claimed that the mass audience misunderstood the book and that it was much darker than they understood.  The confusion deepened as those of us who had newly discovered him, returned to his earlier work.  I couldn't have been fifty pages into Suttree when someone was having sex in a watermelon patch, with a freakin' watermelon!  I, for one, disliked the Southern books, but love the Westerns.

All the Pretty Horses tells the story of 16 year old John Grady Cole.  The dissolution of his parents' marriage has left him the first of his line in many decades without a family ranch to work, so he sets out on horseback for Mexico to find work. He is accompanied by 17 year old Lacey Rawlins and along the way they meet up with Jimmy Blevins who may be as young as 13.  By turns comic (Blevins is deathly afraid of lightning and ends up losing his clothes and his horse in a storm) and tragic (the boys eventually end up in jail), the book is centered around the relationship between men and horses and cattle and the passing of a way of life that was based on that bond.

McCarthy's prose retains traces of his Faulknerian heritage in the minimal use of punctuation (including the absence of quotation marks in dialogue), the coining of many compound words and the general sense of gloom that pervades much of the story.  But the mythic qualities inherent in the American Western overwhelm any intent he may have had to write an anti-western or to puncture the myths and the novel ends up being in many ways a traditional cowboy tale, merely refracted through a modern lens.

What finally sets it apart and makes it extraordinary is McCarthy's use of language, which manages to be both spare and poetic.  Here is his description of Cole breaking wild horses on a Mexican ranch:

    By the time they had three of the horses sidelined in the trap blowing and glaring about there were
    several vaqueros at the gate drinking coffee in a leisurely fashion and watching  the proceedings.
    By midmorning eight of the horses stood tied and the other eight were wilder than deer, scattering
    along the fence and bunching and running in a rising sea of dust as the day warmed, coming to
    reckon slowly with the remorselessness of this rendering of their fluid and collective selves into that
    condition of separate and helpless paralysis which seemed to be among them like a creeping plague.
    The entire complement of vaqueros had come from the bunkhouse to watch and by noon all sixteen
    of the mestenos were standing about in the portrero sidehobbled to their own hackamores and faced
    about in every direction and all communion among them broken.  They looked like animals trussed
    up by children for fun and they stood waiting for they knew not what with the voice of the breaker
    still running in their brains like the voice of some god come to inhabit them.

Partisans of his early works can scream all they want about how the book is supposed to be standing the conventions of the Western on their head, but the passage above is very much of a piece with our traditional views of cowboys and the West and thanks to McCarthy's lyricism, it rises to the level of mythopoetics.

I believe that this book will one day be numbered among the American classics, with books like Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn and All the King's Men; it's that good.


Grade: (A+)


Cormac McCarthy Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Cormac McCarthy
    -ENTRY: Cormac McCarthy (
    -TRIBUTE SITE: (The Cormac McCarthy Society)
    -SYMPOSIUM: Cormac McCarthy Symposium (University Bookman, Jun 18, 2023)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Cormac McCarthy (IMDB)
    -OBIT: Cormac McCarthy, spare and haunting novelist, dies at 89: With his savage western ‘Blood Meridian’ and post-apocalyptic Pulitzer winner, ‘The Road,’ he established himself as one of America’s most renowned writers, with a prose style that was lean, poetic and unsentimental (Harrison Smith, June 13, 2023, Washington Post)
    -OBIT: Cormac McCarthy, celebrated US novelist, dies aged 89: Author of Blood Meridian, The Road and No Country for Old Men died in his home of natural causes, publisher announces (Erum Salam, Alison Flood and Sian Cain, 13 Jun 2023, The Guardian)
    -OBIT: Cormac McCarthy, American novelist of the stark and dark, dies at 89 (Wade Goodwyn, 6/13/23, NPR: All Things Considered)
    -OBIT: Cormac McCarthy, Novelist of a Darker America, Is Dead at 89: “All the Pretty Horses,” “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men” were among his acclaimed books that explore a bleak world of violence and outsiders. (Dwight Garner, 6/13/23, NY Times)
-TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy, Riding Into a Bloodred Sunset: He was the last of a generational cohort of writers who redefined American prose (A.O. Scott, June 14, 2023, NY Times Book Review)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy’s deep Texas ties: ‘For him, it was a whole new world’ (Raul Alonzo, 6/16/23, Texas Standard)
    -PROFILE: Cormac Country (Richard B. Woodward, Aug. 1st, 2005, Vanity Fair)
    -ESSAY: Blood of a Thousand Christs: The Violent Faith of Cormac McCarthy (J.C. SCHARL, JULY 10, 2023, Religion & Liberty)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy’s Work Is Rooted in Science: Cormac McCarthy’s curiosity about science made him a great writer (Nick Romeo, June 23, 2023, Scientific American)
    -TRIBUTE: Harold Bloom on Cormac McCarthy, True Heir to Melville and Faulkner: On Violence, the Sublime, and Blood Meridian's Place in the American Canon (Harold Bloom, October 16, 2019, Library of America)
    -TRIBUTE: HOW CORMAC MCCARTHY USED CRIME FICTION’S TROPES TO MAKE MASTERPIECES: On the author's evolving style and journeys through the darkness. (NICK KOLAKOWSKI, 6/23/23, CrimeReads)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy, Riding Into a Bloodred Sunset: He was the last of a generational cohort of writers who redefined American prose. (AO Scott, , 6/14/23, NY Times))
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy’s Narrative Wisdom: In his novels, action and description were everything. (Ed Caesar, 6/14/23, The New Yorker)
    -TRIBUTE: A lyric poet of horror and chaos: the dark brilliance of Cormac McCarthy (Rob Doyle, 6/15/23, The Guardian)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy remembered: ‘His work will sing down the centuries’: The celebrated US author of Blood Meridian, The Road and No Country for Old Men has died. Here, leading contemporaries and critics pay tribute to him (Robert Macfarlane, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Benjamin Myers, Ridley Scott, Anne Enright Sebastian Junger, Thomas Keneally and Travis Elborough, 14 Jun 2023, The Guardian)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy and the Possibility of Faith (Alexander Riley, 6/13/23, Public Discourse)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy is gone — but his works remain brilliantly alive: He leaves a literary legacy unlike any writer in my lifetime (Aaron Gwyn, June 13, 2023, Spectator)
    -TRIBUTE: The Three Punctuation Rules of Cormac McCarthy (RIP), and How They All Go Back to James Joyce (Open Culture, June 13th, 2023, Josh Jones)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy’s Death Is the End of an Era. Maybe Several. ( TOBIAS CARROLL, 6/13/23, Inside Hook)
    -TRIBUTE: Remembering Cormac McCarthy 1933-2023 (Literary Hub, June 13, 2023)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy, lone wolf among the last of the literary giants: The American novelist, who died Tuesday at 89, took grand stylistic chances that few others could — or would — dare (John Williams, June 14, 202, Washington Post)
    -TRIBUTE: On the Death of Cormac McCarthy: The worlds depicted in his novels are not built for mortal humans like you and me. (Graeme Wood, 6/14/23, The Atlantic)
    -TRIBUTE: ‘A man of miracles’: The Road director John Hillcoat on Cormac McCarthy: The film-maker, who is also set to adapt Blood Meridian, reflects on his friendship with the late author, ‘a monumental artistic force’ (John Hillcoat, 6/14/23, The Guardian))
    -TRIBUTE: On Cormac McCarthy (The Paris Review, June 16, 2023)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy: a powerful writer who beautifully wrote about apocalypse and extinction (Andrew Dix, June 16, 2023, The Conversation)
    -TRIBUTE: Land of Unconscious Genius: Remembering Cormac McCarthy (1933-2023) and the fading of an American tradition (Declan Leary, Jun 17, 202, American Conservative)
    -TRIBUTE: McCarthy, Joyce, and the ‘Culture of Death’: The long, dark road from James Joyce’s Ulysses to Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger and Stella Maris. (Nora Kenney, Jun 17, 2023, American Conservative)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy Saw the Extremes of Human Experience: The legendary author constructed beautifully grim worlds full of unpredictability and indifference (Brian Phillips, Jun 14, 2023, Ringer)
    -REMEMBRANCE: My final, unexpected conversation with Cormac McCarthy (David Kushner, Jun 18, 2023, Business Insider)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy Had a Remarkable Literary Career. It Could Never Happen Now. (Dan Sinykin, June 19, 2023, NY Times)
    -TRIBUTE: In the darkness, a home: Cormac McCarthy’s Catholic center: The novelist, who died on June 13th, was a “lapsed Catholic” and is widely considered an agnostic. And it is natural—and a fallacy—to want to possess a great artist as one’s own. But in this case the claim is borne out in the novels. (James Watson, Ph.D. 6/24/23m, Catholic World Reporter)
    -TRIBUTE: What Cormac McCarthy knew: The American novelist understood the bleak truth that the world defies human understanding or control. (John Gray, 6/20/23, New Statesman)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy’s Unforgiving Parables of American Empire: He demonstrated how the frontier wasn’t an incubator of democratic equality but a place of unrelenting pain, cruelty, and suffering. (GREG GRANDIN, 6/21/23, The Nation)
-TRIBUTE: Hero of a Cult of One: On Loving Cormac McCarthy’s Early Work: Jason K. Friedman Considers the Enduring Creative Influence of a Now-Beloved American Writer (Jason K. Friedman, May 1, 2024, LitHub)
    -TRIBUTE: What Cormac McCarthy knew: The American novelist understood the bleak truth that the world defies human understanding or control. (John Gray, 6/20/23, New Statesman)
    -TRIBUTE: Cormac McCarthy & the Vulnerable Style: Cormac McCarthy (1933-2023) (PATRICK NATHAN, JUL 14, 2023, The Hobbyhorse)
-ESSAY: The Unimaginable Penitent: The Myth of American Innocence in Cormac McCarthy's Late Work D. Marcel DeCoste, July 02, 2024, Church Life Journal)
    -ESSAY: How Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian serves as a guide to living a better life (Joseph Anderson, 9th May 2024, The Scotsman)
    -VIDEO: Couldn't Care Less. Cormac McCarthy in conversation with David Krakauer (Santa Fe Institute)
    -AUDIO: Cormac McCarthy (RIP) and Werner Herzog Talk Science and Culture (NPR: Science Friday, April 14th, 2011)
    -BOOK LIST: Cormac McCarthy: where to begin reading his searing, brutal and unforgettable novels (Daniel Robert King, June 16, 2023, The Conversation)
-READING LIST: Outer Dark: A Cormac McCarthy Reading List: “Every man’s death is a standing in for every other. And since death comes to all there is no way to abate the fear of it except to love that man who stands for us.” (Longreads, June 13, 2023)
    -WIKIPEDIA: No Country for Old Men
    -WIKIPEDIA: No Country for Old Men(film)
    -ENTRY: No Country for Old men (
    -The Cormac McCarthy Journal (Penn State University Press
    -Cormac McCarthy Papers (Wittliff Collection, Albert B. Alkek Library, Texas State University)
    -Featured Author: Cormac McCarthy (From the Archives of The New York Times)
    -EXCERPT: No Country for Old Men (BookBrowse)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Couldn't Care Less. Cormac McCarthy in conversation with David Krakauer (Santa Fe Institute (SFI), December 2017)
    -PODCAST: Cormac McCarthy Chris Ryan doesn’t want to hear your opinion about Cormac McCarthy’s new book (Chris Ryan, Bill Simmons, Sean Fennessey, and Tyler Parker Dec 9, 2022, The Ringer: Hottest Take)
    -PODCAST: Cormac McCarthy and Modernity with Nick Monk (Hermitix Podcast, 3/02/23)
-PROFILE: The Road author Cormac McCarthy once removed all commas from a business paper (Clayton Purdom, January 5, 2017, AV Club)
    -READERS GUIDE: No Country for Old Men Reader’s Guide BY CORMAC MCCARTHY (Penguin Random House)
    -POEM: Sailing to Byzantium by William Butler Yeats (Poetry Foundation)
    -WIKIPEDIA: The Road
    -BOOK SITE: The Road (Random House)
    -GOOGLE BOOK: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
    -INTERVIEW: Rare Thoughts on Writing From Cormac McCarthy in This Unlikely Interview: It Only Took Two Arizona High School Students to Get Answers From the Legendarily Reclusive Author (Murray Carpenter, March 15, 2022, LitHub)
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy's Venomous Fiction (Richard B. Woodward, 4/19/92, NY Times Book Review)
-ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s Moral Imagination: A fondness for the freakish and forgotten (Matthew Boudway, November 2016, Commonweal)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s surprising turn to spirituality: Two unexpected McCarthy novels prove to be his most religious yet (Jacob Lupfer, 3/06/23, RNS)
    -ESSAY: On War, Fatherhood, and the Half-Life of Cormac McCarthy’s Literary Fission: Will Cathcart Travels the Road From Kherson to a Delivery Room in Tbilisi (Will Cathcart, January 5, 2023, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: Reenchanted Science: How did Cormac McCarthy become a shill for libertarian utopianism? (Erik Baker, December 22, 2022, The Baffler)
    -ESSAY: What You Really Learn from Cormac McCarthy: On the publication of his first novels in 16 years, novelist Smith Henderson writes about why McCarthy is a modern master (Smith Henderson, December 15, 2022, huckberry)
    -ESSAY: the macabre metaphysic and schizophrenic style of Cormac McCarthy (Paul Giles, Australian Catholic University, November 18, 2022, The Conversation)
    -ESSAY: The Kekulé Problem: Where did language come from? (CORMAC MCCARTHY, APRIL 20, 2017, Nautilus)
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy Explains the Unconscious (Nick Romeo, 4/22/17, The New Yorker)
    -INTERVIEW: Cormac McCarthy on the Santa Fe Institute's Brainy Halls (NICK ROMEO, 2/12/12, Newsweek)
    -PROFILE: Cormac Country: Cormac McCarthy would rather hang out with physicists than other writers. He doesn’t do blurbs, book tours, or even Oprah. But with the publication of his blood-spattered new novel, No Country for Old Men, he gives his first interview in 13 years—since All the Pretty Horses turned him from cult figure into literary star. (RICHARD B. WOODWARD, AUGUST 1, 2005, Vanity Fair)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s Coda: The Last Breath Of An Agnostic Materialist (Tyler Hummel, 7/23/23, Voegelin View)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy's Confrontation with Evil (Titus Techera, 6/22/23, Law & Liberty)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s Poetics of Being: Depicting life in the border country between cosmic order and immanent futility. (Christopher Yates, 6/22/23, Hedgehog Review)
    -ESSAY: What Cormac McCarthy knew: The American novelist understood the bleak truth that the world defies human understanding or control. (John Gray, 6/20/23, New Statesman)
-BOOK LIST: Curious About Cormac McCarthy? Start With These Five Books.: On the publication of his first novel in 16 years, we're offering a primer on one of our favorite authors. (Huckberyy Journal)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s new novels revolve around Jewish siblings named ‘Western’: First new books from author since 2006’s ‘The Road’; reviewer speculates that protagonists’ Judaism may be a stand-in for novelist’s Catholicism (ANDREW LAPIN, 29 October 2022, Times of Israel)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s irrational apocalypse: In his world, mankind is nothing without bloodshed (PARK MACDOUGALD, 10/31/22, UnHerd)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy, brutal but brilliant: The harshness and hope of an American master (Chilton Williamson, Jr., 7/25/20, Spectator USA)
    -PROFILE: Hollywood's Favorite Cowboy: Author Cormac McCarthy, 76, talked about love, religion, his 11-year-old son, the end of the world and the movie based on his novel 'The Road.' He was just getting going. (John Jurgensen, Nov. 13, 2009 , WSJ)
    -VIDEO: Looking for Cormac
    -ESSAY: DARKNESS LAUGHABLE: THE COMIC GENIUS OF CORMAC MCCARTHY: As one of our greatest living writers has his work lifted into the ivory tower, let’s reflect on how it’s the light, not the darkness, that keeps us going back for more. (JAMES MCWILLIAMS, JUL 2, 2014, Pacific Standard)
    -INTERVIEW: Harold Bloom on Blood Meridian (Leonard Pierce, 6/15/09, AV Club)
    -ESSAY: Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium" and McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men": Art and Artifice in the New Novel (Steven Frye, The Cormac McCarthy Journal)
    -ESSAY: Cormac and Oprah, Revisited (AUSTIN ALLEN, 16 January, 2012, Big Think)
    -VIDEO LECTURE: 17. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (Professor Hungerford, Nov 21, 2008, The American Novel Since 1945, Yale Courses)
    -ESSAY: No God for Anton Chigurh? (Jim Emerson March 28, 2008,
    -ESSAY: No Country for Old Literalists (Jim Emerson, November 09, 2007,
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy: America's great poetic visionary: He is the ultimate pessimist, a reclusive soothsayer who makes even Hemingway look touchy-feely. Now, his apocalyptic novel, The Road, is coming to the big screen, bringing his bleak vision to a wider audience (Tim Adams, 19 Dec 2009, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy doesn't know the American south-west: Despite what he has said, plenty of writers before him had written about this region, and many did so a lot better (Christine Granados, 14 Apr 2010, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Who is the greatest American novelist? 3: Cormac McCarthy v John Fante (Matthew Spencer, 19 Dec 2013, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: No Country For Old Men: 7 Big Differences Between The Book And Movie (HUGH SCOTT, JUN. 19. 2019, Cinema blend)
    -ESSAY: Book vs. Movie: No Country for Old Men (Matt Matros, Ploughshares)
    -ESSAY: The Antiwar Theme in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men (ANQ A Quarterly Journal, October 2016
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy's Venomous Fiction (Richard B. Woodward, April 19, 1992, NY Times Magazine)
    -ESSAY: In the Country of “No Country for Old Men” and On the Trail of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian”: What I Did for My Summer Vacation (William J. Cobb, August 25, 2017)
    -ESSAY: "As Full of Grief as Age": "King Lear" as Tragic Ancestor to "No Country for Old Men" (Alexander L. Barron, The Cormac McCarthy Journal)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s "No Country for Old Men": Narrative Elements in Film and Novel (INESE ROMANOVA, Master's Thesis, 2013)
    -ESSAY: Amphora: American Furies: Justice in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men And the Oresteia Trilogy (Karen Rosenbecker, 05/25/2018, Society for Classical Studies)
    -THESIS: Amoral Antagonists: Interrogating the Myth of the West in Cormac McCarthy's Fiction (John Thomas Arthur, University of Denver, 1-1-2017)
    -ESSAY: No Country for Old Men (Ryan Parker, october 2007, Journal of Religion and Film)
    -ESSAY: DEMOCRACY, JUSTICE, AND TRAGEDY IN CORMAC MCCARTHY'S "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" (Benjamin Mangrum, Autumn 2011, Religion & Literature)
    -PROFILE: Ten things that make Cormac McCarthy special: Novelist, recluse... guest on Oprah. Welcome to Cormac McCarthy country (Christopher Goodwin, 1/20/2008, Times of London)
    -PROFILE: A conversation between author Cormac McCarthy and the Coen Brothers, about the new movie No Country for Old Men (TIME, 10/18/07)
    -PROFILE: Writer Cormac McCarthy confides in Oprah Winfrey (Michael Conlon, 6/05/07, Reuters)
    -PROFILE: When Oprah Met Cormac: He's no Salinger. (Troy Patterson, June 6, 2007, Slate)
    -PROFILE: Way out, west: The novelist Cormac McCarthy is the best-kept secret of American letters, but his new book could change all that (GORDON BURN, 4/04/93, Independent)
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy (BLAKE MORRISON, 14 August 1994, Independent)
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy: American literature’s great outsider: Few writers have captured the grandeur and cruelty of the American frontier more vividly than Cormac McCarthy. As the film of his novel 'No Country for Old Men' sweeps the Oscars (Boyd Tonkin, 26 February 2008, Independent)
    -ARTICLE: 'The Road' as Outreach? (Lillian Kwon, 11/13/09, Christian Post)
    -ESSAY: Faith, Fear & Cormac McCarthy (Christopher Badeaux, January 7, 2009, The City)
    -ESSAY: The Hugo award winner that spawned a Pulitzer prize winner: Walter M Miller Jr's A Canticle for Leibowitz is a direct ancestor of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (Sam Jordison, 10/28/08, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s Paradox of Choice: One Writer, Ten Novels, and a Career-Long Obsession (Scott Esposito , Quarterly Conversation)
    -ESSAY: The New Nuke Porn: Our nuclear fantasies have gotten more hard-core. (Ron Rosenbaum, May 8, 2009, Slate)
    -ESSAY: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy: John Crace saddles his horse and heads into the desert to hunt down Cormac McCarthy's 1985 XXX-rated western, Blood Meridian (John Crace, 9/24/09,
    -ARCHIVE: The First Reviews of Every Cormac McCarthy Novel: FROM THE ORCHARD KEEPER TO THE ROAD (Bookmarks)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (London Review of Books)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (Oxford American)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (Texas Monthly)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (New Statesman)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (Paris Review)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: Read the first reviews of every Cormac McCarthy novel. ( Dan Sheehan, July 20, 2023, LitHub)
    -ARCHIVES: Blood Meridian (LitHub)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (Irving Malin, Commonweal)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (James Wood, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Walter Kirn, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Keith Phipps, AV Club)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Annie Proulx, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Julie Hale, BookPage)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Alan Cheuse, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Clive Sinclair, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Dean Polling, Valdosta Times)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Eric iles Williamson, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (James Tipton, Mexconnect)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (William Deresiewicz, The Nation)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Richard A. Blake, America)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Bun Rutter, N+1)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (William J. Cobb, Houston Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Ira Boudway, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Sean Michaels, The Skinny)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Where Pen Meets Paper)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Cult of the New)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Beaverton City Library, OregonLive)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Diana Mican, Pajiba)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Andrew Bannon, The Roundup)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Medium)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (Daily Telegraph)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (Independent)
    -ARCHIVES: "cormac mccarthy (Slate)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (THe Guardian)
-REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men: All the Pretty Corpses: Cormac McCarthy’s latest—part blood-drenched crime spree, part dark meditation on the state of the world—grabs hold of you and won’t let go. (Don Graham, August 2005, Texas Monthly)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: for The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Metacritic)
    -REVIEW: of The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Phil Christman, Books & Culture)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (William Kennedy, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Ron Charles, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Chris Cleave, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Todd Shy, Christian Century)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Michael Moorhead, Christian Ethics Today)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Joseph Kugelmass, The Valve)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Ten O'Clock Scholar)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Image)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Jennifer Egan, Slate)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Slate Audio Book Club)
    -REVIEW: of The Road ()
    -REVIEW: of The Road (John Holt, California Literary Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Michael Chabon, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Alan Cheuse, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Clive Sinclair, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Ed Caesar, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Mark Holcomb, Village Voice)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Alan Warner, Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (George Monbiot, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Victoria Hoyle and Paul Kincaid, Strange Horizons)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Fl;orence Williams, Outside)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Benjamin Whitmer, Modern Word)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Dierdre Donahue, USA TODAY)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Chris Barsanti, PopMatters)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (David Hellman, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Gail Caldwell, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Niall Griffiths, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Charles McGrath, The Scotsman)
    -REVIEW: of The Road ()
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Gordon Hauptfleisch, Blog Critics)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (James Wood, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of No Country (John Freeman, The Scotsman)
    -REVIEW: of
-REVIEW: of The Crossing (Anthony Quinn, Independent)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Deliverance Is Seldom: On Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Stella Maris’ (Seth L. Riley, October 25, 2022, The millions)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (GABINO IGLESIAS, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (Modern Novel)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger and Stella Maris (Rob Doyle, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (Ross Collin, Chicago Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (Dan Jones, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (Justin Taylor, BookForum)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (Laura Miller, Slate)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (Max Bindernagel, Washington Free Beacon)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger and Stella Maris (Luke Warde, Independent ie)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (James Wood, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger (Peggy Ellsburg, LA REview of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Stella Maris (Modern Novel)
    -REVIEW: of Stella Maris (Christopher J. Scalia, Free Beacon)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger and Stella Maris (Brent Walter Cline, University Bookman)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger and Stella Maris (Michael P. Federici, University Bookman)
    -REVIEW: of Passenger & Stella Maris (Christopher C. King, Oxford American)
    -REVIEW: Of The Passenger (Joy Williams, Harper's)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger and Stella Maris (Phil Christman, Commonweal)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger and Stella Maris (Alan Noble, Plough)
    -REVIEW: In a World of Speed and Power, Cormac McCarthy Wasn’t Afraid of Depth: The late novelist’s final books are ambitious portraits of the Western world and the human soul. (JASON M. BAXTER, SEPTEMBER 8, 2023, Christianity Today)
    -REVIEW: Cormac McCarthy’s Last Novels (Lin Atnip, The Point)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: The Dam and the Bomb: On Cormac McCarthy (Walker Mimms, n+1)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger & Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy (Michael Gorra, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Passenger & Stella Maris (Graeme Wood, The Atlantic)
    Blood Meridian

    -WIKIPEDIA: Blood Meridian
    -SUBSTACK: The Night Does Not End (Aaron Gwynn)
    -ENTRY: Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West (Maria del Pilar Blanco, Encyclopaedia Britannica)
    -EXCERPT: Chapter One of Blood Meridian (Penguin Random House)
    -BOOK SITE: Blood Meridian (Penguin Random House)
    -VIDEO LECTURE: Lecture 17 - Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (ENGL 291: The American Novel Since 1945)
    -PODCAST: Episode 69: Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" w/ Aaron Gwynn (Jennifer Frey, Sacred and Profane)
    -PODCAST: The Dark Room: Blood Meridian w/ Aaron Gwyn (Art of Darkness)
    -PODCAST: Voidcast #10 – Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian (Vegan Voidcast)
    -ESSAY: Blood Meridian is Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece: It may be the Great American Novel critics have searched for (Aaron Gwynn, 6/17/23, The Spectator)
    -ESSAY: Episode VIII: The Fire Which God Has Put There The Meaning of Blood Meridian's Epilogue (AARON GWYN, JAN 28, 2023, The Night Does Not End)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy: Conservative Novelist (Alexander Riley, National Association of Scholars)
Whatever the acuity of his analysis of the Judge, Bloom’s disregard of the Kid’s importance is shortsighted. He fails to see how the latter’s story is echoed in those of the other heroes of the Westerns. The Judge’s charge as to the justification for the Kid’s death is that he abandoned two other members of the Glanton gang, but one must remember the source of the charge. It is demonstrably false, mouthed by an inveterate liar, and he levels it only because he realizes the Kid’s moral core registers such a thing as the worst of crimes, i.e., the imputation of his moral failing causes the Kid psychological suffering, which is the Judge’s real goal. But he committed no such crime. Shelby and Tate, the two men the Kid is accused of abandoning, in fact received acts of compassionate kindness from the Kid.

The Kid is singled out by the Judge precisely for his acts of compassion. He must die, by the Judge’s perverse logic, because he has too little of the bloodthirsty warrior and too much of Christian morality in him. The Kid is an orphan, abandoned to a vicious world from early on, and he has learned to be ruthless when required as a matter of course. But he is also, inexplicably given his dismal history, self-sacrificing in the interests of suffering comrades. After an Apache slaughter, he stays in the desert with a horribly wounded Sproule and shares water with him. He is the only one of the gang who will help the despicable Davey Brown remove an arrow from his thigh.

One of the Kid’s last acts is an attempt to spare the life of a lunatic violent youth who challenges him. Here, the Kid faces his own earlier self, three decades on. “You better go on,” he tells him, and then he addresses his fellows: “You keep him away from me.” But the Kid’s young Doppelgänger is lost in this pitiless world, and returns to try and kill the Kid, who instead kills his attacker. “You wouldn’t of lived anyway” comes the Kid’s mournful epitaph to the dead boy.

In this terrible world, such behavior inevitably exposes one to exploitation by merciless others, and in the end, it is this that kills the Kid. But McCarthy’s message is not that the Judge’s way therefore wins. Billy Parham, John Grady Cole, and Sheriff Bell bear a family resemblance to the Kid, though each is more elaborated and developed in this moral regard. Each demonstrates himself a master of violence and death, but also a moral agent who accepts brutality when there is no other choice yet seeks to restrain its reach, kindled as each of them is with a spark of warmth and fellow feeling the origin of which is beyond their ken. Each loses his struggle against violence, but each also affirms his love and compassion as the most essential piece of his humanity, Cole literally in his last breath in a passage that is arguably the pinnacle of McCarthy’s literary craft.

It is undeniably true that compassion can be personally ruinous in the landscape of the Westerns. It is what costs the Kid his life, for he has the opportunity to kill the Judge and refuses it. It is what leads to the murder of Billy’s parents, which is a consequence of the act of compassion he shows the vagrant who later takes their lives. It is John Grady’s inability to abandon the doomed Magdalena that costs him his life too. It is his loyalty to Blevins, a troublesome thirteen year old runaway he and Rawlins encounter in Mexico and allow to accompany them, that ultimately ruins them. And it is Moss’s refusal to shoot Chigurh when he has the chance that permits the satanic antihero to later murder his wife.

But McCarthy’s message is not this bleak account, so loved by some cynical academics and other readers. The moral is that, yes, the world is merciless and cruel and we are inescapably, organically part of it, and yet we are also called to contest it in that cruelty. We are not to drown unmoving in the tide of blood but instead we must endeavor to extricate ourselves from it, even in acts of self-sacrifice. Traditional heroic male compassion is one of the chief things that holds the brutality at bay.

    -ESSAY: Blood Meridian: Inspired by an Other Life Discussion with Justin Murphy (O.G. Rose, Aug 24, 2023, the Breaking of the Day)
    BOOK LISTS: Blood Meridian recommendations (5 Books)
    -ESSAY: Crossing the Blood Meridian: Cormac McCarthy and American History (Bennett Parten, February 9, 2022, LA Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: The weirdness of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (ALEXANDER LARMAN, 6/16/23, Englesberg Ideas)
    -ESSAY: Harold Bloom on Cormac McCarthy, True Heir to Melville and Faulkner: On Violence, the Sublime, and Blood Meridian's Place in the American Canon (Harold Bloom, October 16, 2019, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian Was Almost a Plain Old Western: The Sneaky Literary Influences Behind a Modern American Classic (Michael Lynn Crews, September 6, 2017, LitHub)
What seems to have turned the book into something new and strange is the emergence of the judge as the frightening center of a metaphysical work concerned with the nature of evil, and featuring a struggle between a tempter devil and a boy who, though bereft of moral guidance in his young and troubled life, resists the pull of the judge’s call.

The archives point to several sources for this metamorphosis into a novel of ideas. Gustave Flaubert’s The Temptation of St. Anthony was a major influence on the novel. The account of the saint’s temptations in the desert inspired McCarthy to transform his western into a story of spiritual warfare in the deserts of Mexico and America. McCarthy’s reading of Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization, which features discussions of Renaissance paintings of the temptations of saints, also informs the narrative. Jacob Boehme’s vision of the devil as a frightening but necessary component of the divine reality at the heart of things also had a significant impact. Indeed, along with McCarthy’s papers for Suttree, the archival material related to Blood Meridian contains numerous cultural reference points that help to locate McCarthy’s creative efforts within a dynamic intellectual network of books, writers, and ideas.

    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy Cuts to the Bone: Blood Meridian used to be a much different novel. McCarthy’s early drafts reveal how an American masterpiece was born. (NOAH GALLAGHER SHANNON, OCT 05, 2012, Slate)
    -ESSAY: Blood Meridian’s 10 most McCarthian sentences. (Dan Sheehan, April 28, 2021, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: The Dance of History in Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" (John Emil Sepich, Fall 1991, The Southern Literary Journal)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy's Definition of Evil: Blood Meridian and the Case of Judge Holden (Brent Edwin Cusher, 29 Sep 2014, Perspectives on Political Science)
    -ESSAY: “Witness to the Uttermost Edge of the World”: Judge Holden's Textual Enterprise in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian (Joshua J. Masters, 26 Mar 2010, Critique)
    -ESSAY: American irregular: frontier conflict and the philosophy of war in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West (Michael Evans, 20 Sep 2011, Small Wars and Insurgencies)
    -ESSAY: Blood Meridian and Its Implications (Andrew Hartman, 1/14/14, US Intellectual History Blog)
    -ESSAY: Reading Cormac McCarthy: The good, the bad and the ugly (Claudio D'Andrea, Sep 25, 2015, Medium)
    -ESSAY: The Brutal Beauty of Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian’: The western by the author who died Tuesday perfectly encapsulates his trademarks: riveting prose, unflinching portrayals of violence and all-too-human reckonings with mortality. (Brian P. Kelly, June 16, 2023, WSJ)
    -ESSAY: "They Rode On": "Blood Meridian" and the Art of Narrative (BERNARD A. SCHOPEN, Summer 1995, Western American Literature)
    -ESSAY: The weirdness of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (Alexander Larman, JUNE 16, 2023, Englesberg Ideas)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s bloodiest book is also his most beloved. Why?: In “Blood Meridian,” anything sweet the author introduces is destined to be bludgeoned a few pages later. (Zac Black, July 5, 2023, Toronto Star)
    -ESSAY: Demystifying the Judge: Law and Mythical Violence in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian (James Dorson, Winter 2013, Journal of Modern Literature)
    -The Cormac McCarthy Home Pages (The Official Website of the Cormac McCarthy Society)
    -Cormac McCarthy (Random House)
    -Cormac McCarthy: A Bibliography (Dianne Luce)
    -CORMAC MCCARTHY ( Daniel E. Tingle)
    -The Cormac McCarthy Forum
    -Defining the Unseen Deity in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy (Paul Mitchell, Shoot The Messenger)
    -Reclusive McCarthy in spotlight again (USA Today)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy's Venomous Fiction (Richard B. Woodward, NY Times Book Review)
    -Overlooked: Five direly underappreciated U.S. novels ( David Foster Wallace, Salon)

    -READING GROUP GUIDE: Cities of the Plain and the Border Trilogy (Vintage Books)
    -TEACHERS GUIDE: All the Pretty Horses (Vintage Books)
    -REVIEW: Boys on Horseback, Loose in Mexico  (HERBERT MITGANG, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: The Man Who Understood Horses (Madison Smartt Bell, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Dream Work (DENIS DONOGHUE, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of the whole Border Trilogy Sentimental Journey (Vince Passaro, Salon)
*  -REVIEW:  of the whole Border Trilogy Horseman, Ride On (Edwin T. Arnold, World and I)

    -REVIEW: of Blood Meridian IS EVERYBODY DEAD AROUND HERE? (Caryn Jame, NY Times Book Review)
   -REVIEW: of The Crossing Border Crossings, Real and Symbolic (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
   -REVIEW: of The Crossing Travels With A She-Wolf (Robert Hass, NY Times Book Review)
   -REVIEW: Cities of the Plain Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (Sara Mosle, NY Times Book Review)
   -REVIEW: Cities of the Plain Moving Along the Border Between Past and Future  (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times)
   -REVIEW: Cities of the Plain The Sun Also Sets (A.O. SCOTT, NY Review of Books)
   -REVIEW: Cities of the Plain (Charles Dove, Sidewalk)
   -REVIEW: of Cities of the Plain The West's end (Tom Scocca, Boston Phoenix)
   -REVIEW: Cities of the Plain The unsheltering sky (Gail Caldwell, Boston Globe)
   -REVIEW: Plain talk about 'Cities' Cormac McCarthy clumsily closes 'Border Trilogy' (Anne Stephenson, AZ Republic)
   -REVIEW: Plain Speaking--The Long-Awaited Finale To Cormac McCarthy's 'Border Trilogy' Is Another Tribute To The Impossibly Beautiful (Jim Carvalho, Tucson Weekly)
* -REVIEW: Horseman, Ride On (Edwin T. Arnold, World and I)