I cannot believe I let so much time slip by between posts. To make up for it, I want to begin a series of posts about contemporary novels. In an earlier blog, I mentioned in the comments section that there are some contemporary novels that I think should and will be added to our list of "Classic Literature." If we do not allow for this, Classic Literature is obsolescent and in danger of being forgotten and/or dismissed. Great literature is still being produced today, and yet we tend to venerate only the novels written 100+ years ago as "Classic." With time, some of the 20th century authors like James Joyce and T.S. Eliot have been added to the list, which is relatively recent. However, there are some living authors whose works I think deserve to join the ranks of Classic Literature.
Blood Meridian is particularly notable for its graphic violence. This book is not for the faint of heart, and I hesitate to blindly recommend it to all readers because it is so powerfully graphic. Some of the scenes in the novel are almost unimaginably gruesome, and if I listed them off to you, you might be horrified. However, the genius of this book is the juxtaposition of this kind of brutal violence with some of the most beautifully written prose I have ever read. I read several passages of the novel out loud so I could hear the marvelous ebb and flow of the descriptive words and the rhythm it creates. His writing is just breath-taking, and it almost feels like Romantic poetry. And yet the subject of the description is often very raw and disturbing. The balance he thus creates in Blood Meridian between these contrasts is extraordinarily commendable.
When I finished reading the novel, I was unsure how I felt about it. How could I use the words, "I liked it," to describe a story so brutal and heart-wrenching? During my reading, I wasn't smiling or chuckling, nor was I wishing I could be a part of the story with the characters. I don't plan on rereading this one over and over, nor can I even bring myself to list it as one of my favorite books of all time. Yet I was undeniably moved. McCarthy brought me to experience this unsettling contrast with emotions and thoughts I've never entertained. For all of these reasons - its uniqueness, its brilliance, its disturbing content - I think Blood Meridian should definitely be considered a work of Classic Literature.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this novel. I can imagine that it would produce different experiences for everyone. If you are interested in reading more about this book, The Literate Man has a great review of it, which you can find here.