Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Well, there will be blood. That’s for goddamn sure. I’ve only ever read The Road. So I know old CMic can be bleak. But moth. er. fuck. er. This one. This was like a Steinbeck novel that fell through the sluice grate at the slaughterhouse. By the end of the rambling wandering narrative, after endless acts of scalps being peeled from skulls and countless babies being trampled by horses until they squish or impaled or raped or used as the football for FIFA 1888, you’re just kind of desensitized. Which I guess is the point. But it’s a long time coming.
If someone told me the audiobook version was just Marlon Brando whacked out on peyote rambling for eighteen hours, I’d believe them. It’s hallucinogenic. People call this a classic. But I just don’t see it. Though respect made me probably bump it up one more star that I ought to have given it. I can’t say it was bad. It just wandered. It was like if someone got an elementary school drunk on Natty Ice and then sent them through a minefield. The first kid explodes and you scream and wince. The second, the third. The fourth kid blows off a leg and lays there crying, clutching his gushing stump and rolling around. A kid reaches to help him. Another kid does too. That second girl explodes. And the bone fragments spear through the faces of the other two. So they crawl towards each other, making gasping gross hacking almost cough-cries as they barely touch hands and die. One kid starts throwing other kids on to the landmines to clear a path. Grabbing the shattered femurs of the dead kids, the others fall on him and gouge meaty chunks out of the bully until he succumbs. The other kids finally realize if they step on through the red slurry that was their classmates, they might get home. Maybe a few more will have to die but that’s now a safe disgusting path. And then it starts to hail. Which starts setting off more land mines. And their parents keen and wail as their children are rent to shreds. And every time a parent cries out, some bandito terrorist behind them blows a hole in the back of their heads. So they stifle their tears as their babies turn to red rain.
That’s about half tempo of the gruesomeness of Blood Meridian. I left out the part about the naked alopecia-ed judge who is like something out of Hunter S. Thompson.