Monday, August 30, 2010

You Said What Now?

Tell McCarthy if I see him I'll shoot his fuckin' balls off

In recent years, two close friends - one of them Perseus - have, separately and independently, urged me to to read Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. I read it. It went something like this:

They rode out under a still night across the plain and towards the mountain the fires of the enemy no longer visible in the grotesque barrenness of a country belonging to neither man nor god and they rode through the intense heat of a day without speech to interrupt the noise of the silence of the land and then at night stopped and made a fire and slept again and then the next day rode across another plain and fought the enemy and brains spilled all over the dust and babys heads were smashed on rocks and the kid the main character who I had forgotten to mention for several hundred pages sat on his steed and looked blankfaced across the plain hamfisted and tightlipped and the heat drove them into the shade where they built a fire and slept and then they rode into a town where all the doors were locked and they entered a cantina and got in a fight and shots were fired and blood spilled in the dust and the kid stood and looked without fear nor envy and the enemy rode nearer and blood was spilled in the dust and i might throw in some words here that will have readers reaching for the dictionary such as kakidrosis and edea and transhume and perhaps ill try to write the longest sentence ever without punctuation or proper grammar and might even make up some words and theyll call it unique instead of poor prose and the kid stared into the night across the plain as they made another fire.

It was ok. But I think I'll go back to Hemingway.

30 comments:

Puss In Boots said...

I hate authors who try to do "controversial" stuff, like not using any punctuation. It's fucking tedious.

Kettle said...

So less Harold Bloom's "greatest book since Faulkner's As I Lay Dying" and more "Greatest Book to Make You Lay Down and Die"?

Hey Bob, what do you think of the Avett Bros?

come.to.mumma said...

Welcome back Bob!

Haven't read Blood Meridian but have The Road and No Country for Old Men. The latter was a steaming pile of ungrammatical shit. The former was bleak but somehow more readable, though still dodgy grammar-wise. Or maybe I'd just gotten used to his (crappy) style by then.

wari lasi said...

I read All the pretty horses a few years ago and found the grammar (or lack thereof) tedious. But it wasn't as ridiculous as this and was a decent story.

Hardly Hemmingway though.

Alex said...

Good to hear from you again, Bob. Even if I have no clue about the subject matter of your post.

wari lasi said...

It's a parody Alex. Bob's great at them.

Read almost any of McCarthy's work and you'll see where he's coming from.

squib said...

Philistines!

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Welcome back Bob.

I haven't read any Cormac McCarthy because if I wanted to experience horror, despair and death I can just take the number 86 tram.

Wolf Hall was ace, tho'.

老總 é放電 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ToneMasterTone said...

If you don't particularly like McCarthy's prose, nor that of a few other Americans, this article is a brilliant skewering:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/07/a-reader-apos-s-manifesto/2270/

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I have to say ToneMasterTone, that I have rarely read an article with such enjoyment.

At least that fraud Annie Proulx has dropped out of sight.

Puss In Boots said...

I tried to read The Shipping News. I threw it across the room and refused to continue once I got to a "you're/your" error. Or was it a "would/could/should of" error? I can't remember. I was disgusted either way. I think it was only one or two chapters in.

squib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
squib said...

Ramon, you might enjoy this

squib said...

McCarthy is one of the greatest living writers. I have read The Road, All the Pretty Horses, *Blood Meridian, and I am soon to read Suttree. His mastery of English is sublime. He makes me weak at the knees. There is nothing pretentious or false about his style. He is the real fucking McCoy of literary greats

*5 stars but too brutal and remorseless for me

PS. Lewd, I only gave Anna.K. 4 stars

Lewd Bob said...

I only gave Anna.K. 4 stars

As long as it's out of 5 I can live with that.

And for the record, I loved The Road and I quite liked Blood Meridian. But McCarthy just shits me. It's like DiCaprio. I want to hate him but he keeps appearing in really good movies and acts pretty well at times.

Kettle, I don't know the Avett Bros, however I will research.

Puss, if I discovered a you're/your error in a professionally published book (or a 'would of' for that matter), I would be reaching for a can of petrol.

And hi everyone.

Alex said...

Wait, wait, do you guys mean "would of" in place of "would've"? I don't think I've ever seen that, and I know somebody who spells "lunch" with an "a".

So, um, did you think of a greater living writer than McCarthy then, Squib?

Puss In Boots said...

You obviously don't spend enough time on internet comment boards/forums, Alex. Most of the ignorant masses think "would've" is spelled "would of." It's highly irritating. Other such atrocities include "for all intensive purposes," and "irregardless." People are morons.

I just picked up The Shipping News and turned to a random page. It happened to be page 121, and at the bottom of paragraph 5 is a "should of." I am certain I didn't get that far in to the book initially, so it mustn't be an isolated incident.

Alex said...

Ugh, by the sounds of things, I'm lucky I don't spend more time on internet forums. I have seen some terrible gaffs from non-native English speakers, but I'm hardly going to make fun of that.

Having said that, I sometimes say irregardless, but only when I'm trying to take the piss. The crap grammar in "The Shipping News" isn't some sort of attempt at humour or other stylistic mechanism, is it? Or is your point that it doesn't matter because it shits you either way?

Puss In Boots said...

The latter, Alex. I don't care what the author's intention was. It's irritating irregardless.

For instance, the 'should of' I just found in The Shipping News was inside a spoken quote of a character. Some may argue that is how the character said it, so that's how the author wrote it (although I happen to think it's just one of many grammatical errors because the author is a retard). My argument is that the character should have said 'should've' and that by writing 'should of,' Proulx is giving it legitimacy. Soon, people will be saying shit like, "it's allowed to be 'should of.' The English language is constantly changing, and blah blah blah. It's been published in written books. Blah blah blah."

Not that this annoys me on any level or anything!

Alex said...

Just wait until ebooks (or ibooks or whatever they're going to be called) become dominant and people start looking to online sources to legitimise their language.

Oh, dear. I hardly want to even think of it.

come.to.mumma said...

Oh. My. God. From skewering McCarthy to Proulx. Who's one of my favourite authors. I'm gasping from the pain (or possibly my inconsistency in adoring some ungrammatical authors and not others...)

eat my shorts said...

It's like DiCaprio. I want to hate him but he keeps appearing in really good movies and acts pretty well at times.

Oh heck, yes.

I saw Shutter Island recently. I was determined to hate it because DiCaprio is in it, but it was a fricking awesome film. Makes me want to see Inception now.

Puss, if I discovered a you're/your error in a professionally published book (or a 'would of' for that matter), I would be reaching for a can of petrol.

And hi everyone.


Dude, they're everywhere. I have to apologise to my classes most of the time for the grammatical errors they pick up in the novels we read in class. You know if teenagers are picking up on them, things have reached crisis point.

Oh, and ... hi, nice to see you!

wari lasi said...

The English language is constantly changing, and blah blah blah. It's been published in written books. Blah blah blah

Hear, hear Puss. That old "common usage makes it ok" chestnut. Just because lots of people are arseholes doesn't make being an arsehole ok.

And EMS, that's refreshing that students are picking up the errors and commenting on them. Long live language pedants I say.

Melba said...

BOB!!!

Oh, yay.

I can let perfect grammar go if the writing is amazing, and the bad grammar doesn't jerk me out of the reading experience.

Bad editing gives me the shits though, and this is very different to an author who breaks the rules as a matter of style. Authors who include words which make the meaning impenetrable without a dictionary are annoying prats.

I've read some McCarthy also on Perseus's recommendation and thought he was fantastic, but it was a while ago, so can't be more specific.

But I do love ole Hem. Oh, how I love him.

Puss In Boots said...

Bad grammar always jerks me out of the reading experience.

squib said...

So, um, did you think of a greater living writer than McCarthy then, Squib?

No. I need a list of all living writers

My argument is that the character should have said 'should've' and that by writing 'should of,' Proulx is giving it legitimacy.

It's all about descriptive (not prescriptive) grammar, dudes. They probably don't speak teh proper English in Newfoundland

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Squib, I much prefer this version of The Road

Alex said...

They probably don't speak teh proper English in Newfoundland

Hang on, the book is written in Newfie English? That changes everything. I'm impressed that you can make sense of it at all.

Lewd Bob said...

Authors who include words which make the meaning impenetrable without a dictionary are annoying prats.

Umberto Eco. Although I suspect he's just an academic who is completely unaware that pretty much everybody else is dumber than him.

MELBA!!!