Okay, now for another one of my favorite authors: Cormac McCarthy. I've read a fair number of his books. All the Pretty Horses (New York: Random House, 1992). How I can like Richard Russo and this guy, I have no idea. They're as far apart in style as you can be and still be on the same planet. This book is the first volume of a trilogy, the second two I read but was not that thrilled about so didn't keep.
The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted with he entered the hall and again when he shut the door.This first sentence announces that you're in for a world which is grayer than most. Where images change and transform themselves before your eyes in ways over which you have no control. Where words run together and you're not sure what is really happening so you have to take it as it comes.
This guy takes a little getting used to. First of all, don't count on quotation marks or clear speaker attribution. Don't count on a lot of commas and semicolons. Faulkner used them all up, I think. Just spare, staunt prose, and haunting narrative and compelling characters. Just thinking about this makes me want to read him again.
Take this sentence from later on page 1.
It was dark outside and no wind. In the distance a calf bawled. He stood with his hat in his hand. You never combed your hair that way in your life, he said.How could you not love that writing, even if you're a Virginia Woolf devotee?
I would like some quotation marks, though. I also don't like writers who don't identify who they're characterizing before they refer to them as "he". Tony Morrison does that too, and it used to drive me nuts.
Somebody once complained about a famous writer because he used bad grammar. The writer said something like, "They give Pulitzers for writing not for grammar."
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