McCarthy, Cormac

Tagged: Author

(1933-    ) US playwright and author whose most highly esteemed and best-known novels until the twenty-first century were technically Westerns, including Blood Meridian; Or the Evening Redness in the West (1985), a scarifying recounting of events subsequent to the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 seen through the eyes of a runaway fourteen-year-old lad. The slow intensification of horrors, many of them historically documented, comes close to supernatural intensity; and Judge Holden – whose description as a completely hairless, omnicompetent, ultimately unkillable giant may deliberately play on and undermine popular images of Doc Savage – is a figure of such supernatural vacancy that his desacralizing of the world can be seen as a paradigm representation of the inner narrative of modern horror wrought to its proper uttermost (see Horror in SF). The villain – or opposing principle – who rips tradition and any surviving traces of the storyable out of the world of No Country for Old Men (2005) is a similarly appalling figure. In a sense, McCarthy's only sf novel proper, The Road (2006), filmed as The Road (2009), portrays the state of the world after these figures have done their work. A man and his son trek southwards through a desolated Post-Holocaust America in search of food or surcease. Eventually, a few further survivors are discovered. The film version attempts to use their arrival to lighten the prophetic, godless darkness that terminates the book; but McCarthy's portrayal of a world from which life has been stripped is in the end too convincing (see End of the World): it is not easy to conceive that this particular vision adumbrates the relative populousness of some eventual, pastoral Ruined Earth. [JC]

Cormac McCarthy

born Providence, Rhode Island: 20 July 1933


works (selected)


Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.