04.04. Cormac McCarthy Blood Meridian

Don’t read this book if you have a weak stomach, a faint heart or recoil at senseless violence.
This book has violence, war and evil at it’s core and to bring that to life, McCarthy shows us evil unleashed.
As so often in his books, McCarthy places his characters in anarchic circumstances to show the true nature of man when law and governance cease to control them. In The Road, that world was post-apocalyptic. In Blood Meridian it is the harsh and lawless landscape of the US Mexican border region from 1847 to 1861. We follow the life of a character known only as “the kid” who runs away at 14. We don’t know much about his motivation but we do know, that ” in him broods already a taste for mindless violence”
He joins a band of bounty hunters whose activities degenerate to massacre, robbery and rape (the leader Glanton, is based on an actual historical figure and many events in the book have their roots in history). They kill for money and for fun. And sometimes they kill for no obvious reason at all. It’s pretty grim.
The book is dominated by the character of Judge Holden, a larger than life character (who reminds me of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now) whose philosophy is clear:
“Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaited its ultimate practitioner…It endures because young men love it and old men love it in them. THose that fought, those that did not.”
The violence in the book is not a means to an end. It does not cleanse or redeem. It is the essence of this world McCarthy has created. There are no good guys and bad guys, there are just the strong and the weak.
It’s a bloody ride. But one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The writing in this book is absolutely sublime. Although at times, the plot drags, the descriptions of place and behaviour are poetic, moving and memorable.

4 Stars from me, but I mean it when I say this book is not for everybody!
Let me know if you’re read it and what you thought.

“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
– Italo Calvino
This book is definitely a classic, the message at its heart is absolutely timeless.

2/50 for The Classics Club

21.03. Bookstores and book challenges

I love that Abbey’s in Sydney is supporting the AWW Book Challenge in their display.
When recently in Sydney I made a point of popping by.
Ended up buying Part 3 of The Hunger Games and the new collection of short stories by Nathan Englander. Ripping through them, they are terrific. Review to follow soon.

Also of late, I’ve been following Jillian and her #theclassicsclub on twitter. It seems like a great initiative to me, and when I started thinking about it, I realised there are heaps of classics I’d love to catch up on- many already in my bookshelves at home. So I’ve decided to join in the fun.

I am planning to read 50 classics in the next 5 years…by 31st December 2016.

Wish me luck!

My list currently has 69 books on it. I will only read 50, but wanted to leave myself some wriggle room.
I feel like I covered alot of English literature at school and at uni, so I have sought out alot of American and foreign classics that I hope will broaden my mind.
I’ve also tried to include quite a few women writers- I feel like women get a dud run in most classics lists once you get past the Brontes and Jane Austen.
And I’ve thrown in a couple of graphic novels, some poetry and short stories, one play and a kids book to keep things interesting.

The prize I intend to gift myself at the end? I think I will put $5 in a special jar for each classic I read and at the end go out for a classic dinner- that’s a pretty good budget for a fancy night out I reckon!

So here are the books on my list:

THE ONES I HAVE FINISHED (I’ll be constantly updating this. Click through on the title to read what I thought.
1. Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston Completed 26.03.2012
2. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy Completed April 6 2012

American Classics

3. Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
4. A Confederacy of Dunces Toole, John Kennedy
5. Everything is Illuminated Jonathan Safran Foer
6. Stories Dorothy Parker (Short Stories)
7. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
8. Jazz Toni Morrison
9. The Wasteland T.S. Eliot (Poetry)
10. The House of Mirth Edith Wharton
12. Breakfast of Champions Kurt Vonnegut
13. The Princess Bride William Goldman
14. Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace
15. Fear of Flying Erica Jong
16. Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
17. A Streetcar Named Desire Tennessee Williams (Play)
18. The Complete Poems Emily Dickinson (Poetry)
19. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak (Children’s Book)
20. What we talk About… Raymond Carver (Short Stories)
21. Junky William S Burroughs
22. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
23. The Village David Mamet
24. War all the Time Charles Bukowski (Poetry)
25. Breakfast at Tiffany’s Truman Capote
26. The Man with the Golden Arm Nelson Algren
27. The Complete Maus Art Spiegelman (Graphic Novel)
28. Catch 22 Joseph Heller
29. A Heart So White Javier Marias
30. Blue of Noon Georges Bataille
31. Midnight’s Children Rushdie, Salman
32. The Name of the Rose Eco, Umberto
33. The Bone People Hulme, Keri
34. The Master and Marherita Mikhail Bulgakov
35. Like Water for Chocolate Esquivel, Laura
36. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
37. Les Fleurs du Mal Charles Baudelaire (Poetry)
38. The Second Sex Simone de Beauvoir
39. Suite Française Irène Némirovsky
40. Bonjour Tristesse Françoise Sagan
41. The Leopard Giuseppe di Lampedusa
42. The Prince Niccolò Machiavelli
43. Siddharta Herman Hesse
44. The Lost Honour of Katarina Blum Heinrich Boell (Novella)
45. W.G. Sebald Vertigo
46. Austerlitz W. G. Sebald
47. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
48. A Bend in the River V. S. Naipaul
49. Waiting for the Barbarians J.M. Coetzee
50. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro
51. Kafka on the Shore Haruki Murakami
52. Persepolis Marjane Satrapi (Graphic Novel)
53. The Namesake Jhumpa Lahiri
54. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
55. A Small Circus Hans Fallada
56. The Tale of Genji Murasaki Shikibu
57. The Lover Marguerite Duras
58. Mario Vargas Llosa The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta
40. Gigi & The Cat Colette
59. To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
60. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carré
61. Songs of Innocence & of Experience William Blake (poetry)
62. The Turn of the Screw Henry James
63. Tales of the Unexpected Roald Dahl (Short Stories)
64. Collected Poems Judith Wright (poetry)
65. The Female Eunuch Germaine Greer
66. My Brilliant Career Miles Franklin
67. Songlines Bruce Chatwin
68. Monkey Grip Helen Garner
69. Gigi & The Cat Colette