Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist who has steadily risen in stature in the past 10 years. Though he has written since the 1960s, it was the publication of his book All the Pretty Horses
in 1992, and its subsequent cinematic adaptation, that brought him widespread recognition.
Interest in McCarthy skyrocketed after The Coen Brothers
' Oscar-winning adaptation of his novel No Country for Old Men
and the adaptation of The Road
His reputation as one of the best living American writers was cemented in the placing of his book Blood Meridian
, or the Evening Redness in the West behind Don Delillo's Underworld
and Toni Morrison's Beloved
in a New York Times poll of the Greatest American novels of the last 25 years.
A reclusive author, McCarthy surprised everybody, when he agreed to give his first-ever television interview after Oprah Winfrey
selected The Road
for her famous Book Club.
While McCarthy has written books in genres such as historical fiction, Southern Gothic, crime and post-apocalyptic science fiction, most of his works are, at heart, Westerns.
In early 2012, he made a big splash by selling his first screenplay, titled The Counselor
, a drug thriller about a naive attorney who becomes involved in the drug trade. It was immediately picked up by the producers of the film adaptation of The Road
, with Ridley Scott
signing on to direct.
Recurring Themes & Elements:
- The Anti-Nihilist: What "carrying the fire" means.
- Arc Words:
- Beige Prose: Often used. However, he also often uses words that people who aced the SATs would have to look up. It all depends on the book.
- Crapsack World
- Doing It for the Art: He seems to take this view towards his writing career. Though he has always been critically acclaimed, his audience has expanded significantly since he started out, growing from just a few thousand readers to millions of them—but in spite of this, he claims that he'd be just as happy if he'd stayed relatively unknown, and that getting the chance to write is its own reward.
- Downer Ending
- Gorn: Many of his works contain very grotesque amounts of violence and gore.
- Grey and Gray Morality: Most of his characters are morally ambiguous, although genuine villains do crop up from time to time.
- Historical Fiction: A lot of his works tend to be period pieces, most notably Blood Meridian.
- Humans Are Bastards
- Karma Houdini
- No Punctuation Period: McCarthy has a number of stylistic idiosyncrasies, but his most pronounced is his continual refusal to use quotation marks, as well as an aversion to apostrophes when using contractions. Another quirk of his is that in many, if not all, of his books, there is not a single exclamation mark. At all. In an interview he stated it's just because he doesn't want to clutter up the page.
- Reclusive Artist : Prior to 2007 at least.
- Shown Their Work: His historical fiction is known to be extensively researched.
- Southern Gothic: His pre-Blood Meridian work, in stark contrast to the Westerns he's most famous for.
- The Wild West: A lot of Western tropes crop up in his work, usually relocating them to the Modern era, or in the case of Blood Meridian, giving them a darkly Revisionist twist.