Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Westerns Annotation: Blood Meridian

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Image result for blood meridian
A young Tennesseean known only as the Kid finds himself wandering the vast reaches of the barren landscape of the Western U.S. in the 1850s. After some brief stints in jail, in a ragtag, volunteer army corps, and eventually roughing it across the desert on his own, the Kid joins up with the brutal Glanton gang, a crew of violent adventurers actually drawn from history. The Glanton gang not only journeys boldly from the US and into Mexico, they leave a bloodstained trail in their wake as they seek plunder, conquest, and, most chillingly of all, human scalps in exchange for a bounty.

Appeal Terms
-Western: This historical novel details the early days of US expansion into the “wild West,” and is complete with shootouts, Indians, cowboys, and ghost towns.  
-Gritty: Vivid to the point of being brutal, McCarthy’s descriptions of the tough life led by those brave enough to settle or journey through the deserts of present-day Texas will leave readers gritting their teeth!
-Literary: While McCarthy’s poetic prose is complex and beautiful, it also displays a hardness and raw edge that could appeal to a broad range of readers.
-Atmospheric: The bleak Western setting is as much a player in Blood Meridian as any other character--one can almost see the tumbleweeds rolling across the plains and feel the deadly heat striking upon one’s skin.  

> Extra! Extra! < Featured on Time’s list of 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

The Winter Family by Clifford Jackson
Follows the adventures of a group of outlaws from their formation during the American Civil War to 1900. (NoveList)

Fallen Land by Taylor Brown
A couple races through the destroyed South, relying on the kindness of strangers and foraging from abandoned farms, as they flee a slave hunter, tracking dogs and ex-partisan rangers during the final year of the Civil War. (NoveList)

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

Three Americans drifting through postwar North Africa encounter the limits of human existence in the form of a land and a people utterly alien to them. (NoveList)


  1. It is interesting that the main character, The Kid, is not the shining heroic star and "good guy" of the novel like many Westerns. Although it could be interesting to have a more multi-faceted main character, I almost feel like the heroic "good guy" could be a breath of fresh air in all the murderous blood trail.

  2. Avery, this sounds like an interesting read. I like what you did with your explanation of the appeal factors, especially the literary factor: "While McCarthy’s poetic prose is complex and beautiful, it also displays a hardness and raw edge that could appeal to a broad range of readers." It sounds like the author intricately weaved in beautiful descriptions with the rough character.

  3. This was the first western I ever read! You did a great job on the appeals and summary. I love McCarthy but dang he sure knows how to make a novel gritty. Full points!