Monday, April 12, 2010

Cormac McCarthy, I so love/hate your writing

I just finished Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing. It was beautiful at times. At other times it was long-winded, boring, and in Spanish. Now, I realize that I totally should have studied Spanish instead of German in high school and have had plenty of chances to learn Spanish by now, but even if I had studied it, would I know how to say "Fugitive. Inscrutable. Unpitied." in Spanish? (OK, 2 of those 3 are cognates, so maybe I would, but I digress. Even with a printout of most of the Spanish translations from cormacmccarthy.com, babelfish, and spanishdict.com, the Spanish detracted from the novel for me. I understand it's the Southwest and both cultures and languages are essential, but if the main characters are fluent in both, wouldn't putting Spanish dialogue in English in brackets or italics set it apart but give ignorant readers like me the feel that the characters understand it easily?) That and the 20-page long unrelated stories from their past that minor characters feel it necessary to divulge while obnoxiously pontificating on the meaning of truth.

Ignoring that, it was still worth reading just for its moments of pure bad-assed brilliance. It makes me want to hop a freight train to New Mexico, tame a wild horse (after, you know, learning to ride a horse), and ride it around the desert while wearing cowboy boots and a Stetson and maybe getting shot at by some bandits.

Killer dialogue:

You think it's worse to be cold or be hungry?
I think it's worse to be both.

I'm a hungry son of a bitch.
When did you take to cussin so much?
When I quit eatin.

It would take one hell of a wife to beat no wife at all.

1 comment:

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