Blood Meridian

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Or the Evening Redness in the West

This will be the opening paragraph to all future Cormac McCarthy reviews:

I am a huge Cormac McCarthy fan. His ability to tell a story is unmatched among modern American authors. What makes his stories so compelling is that he does not ignore or sugar-coat human nature - he is willing to explore the very worst of us and the very best of us and everything that falls in between. The stories I have read have all caused me to ponder the great questions of life and morality posed by his stories.

And this applies to Blood Meridian, possibly the most violent of his that I have read. It is based on historical events of the Texas-Mexican border in the 1850's. We sometimes look back on the settling of the Americas in a way that is more romantic than real. It was violent and bloody, often the good guys were bad guys and the bad good and sometimes there were no good at all. Often the characters are driven only by greed and bloodlust.

This is a story of an orphaned boy that falls in with a troop that goes to Mexico to collect scalps of Apaches. The scalps were then sold to the Mexican authorities that offered a bounty, it was a horrible enterprise. It becomes more horrific when the troop recognizes that the black hair of the Apache is not distinct from any other black hair and so the thirst for the bounty grows as the criteria for taking scalps becomes smaller. Without giving away too many details AND to quote Jesus, the light of the world, "those that live by the sword, die by the sword."

The Judge is certainly the most eery character I have read of in a McCarthy novel, and possibly in anything I have read, save one. The judge makes his entry on page six, and upon entry, we think he might be a hero in the story. By page eight we know that this will not be. The Judge makes Anton Chigurh seem like someone you could warm up to. Towards the end of the book we gain a better understanding of the character. The final scene with the boy and the judge might cause the reader to ponder his own destiny, the one that he shares with all that have lived.

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