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Thursday, July 21, 2005


One might as well inform one's readers (all three of them) that anytime one comes across anything by James Wood, one stops in one's tracks and links to it at once. And so, without further ado, here's the man's New Yorker review of Cormac Carthy's new novel, No Country For Old Men:

"To read Cormac McCarthy is to enter a climate of frustration: a good day is so mysteriously followed by a bad one. McCarthy is a colossally gifted writer, certainly one of the greatest observers of landscape. He is also one of the great hams of American prose, who delights in producing a histrionic rhetoric that brilliantly ventriloquizes the King James Bible, Shakespearean and Jacobean tragedy, Melville, Conrad, and Faulkner."

McCarthy, whose Blood Meridian was praised by no less a personage than Harold Bloom as a major aesthetic achievement, is another one of those American author-recluses, and was coaxed into giving his first interview in 13 years upon the publication of this book. (Described as "a violent modern-day Western about a man who finds a suitcase filled with $2 million of drug money in the desert in a car whose occupants have been shot.") Curiously enough, the interview itself will appear in this month's Vanity Fair magazine.

(The new London Review of Books has another piece by Wood, on Nicole Krauss' A History Of Love -- for subscribers only, alas. But here's Maud Newton on the reactions it engendered at The Elegant Variation, and elsewhere.)


  • Finally got around to reading the New Yorker review of McCarthy you mention. Nicely written, but a trifle unconvincing. Maybe it's just that I'm not overly receptive to jokes about Henry James. I happened to enjoy the Ambassadors - and nothing that Woods says in this piece convinces me that I'm going to relish McCarthy more.

    By Blogger Falstaff, at 8:10 PM  

  • Quite agree about not being convinced that one is going to relish McCarthy. But...reading between the lines, that was the point Wood was trying to make, as respectfully as possible. Especially if you see his comments on Dan Green's post at The Reading Experience.

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 1:20 PM  

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