Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekend readings: part 1

Cormac McCarthy's vision is uncompromisingly bleak, apocalyptic and über ultraviolent. Nanga Fakir finished reading Blood Meridian over the weekend and was struck by the fondness McCarthy has for savage violence, gore and brooding, dark storylines that push the characters to the limits and forces them to come to terms with their animal instincts. Having read The Road a couple of years earlier and having heard mountains of praise heaped upon the writer (Harold Bloom (who Nanga Fakir read somewhere, can read 400 pages an hour!) reckons McCarthy, along with Pynchon, DeLillo and Roth is among the great Big Four American writers now) Nanga Fakir settled on Blood Meridian which, apparently is not only on the Time's list of hundred greatest novels but was also one of David Foster Wallace's favorites and his hushed tone in interviews whenever the book's name came up, compelled NF to pick the tome up. Another reason why the reclusive writer fascinated NF was his unusual style of not hanging out with fellow writers but instead staying in New Mexico's awesome Santa Fe Institute and preferring the company of scientists (for SatyaVrat, with whom NF discussed this idiosyncrasy, just this fact was sufficient to convince him to become an avowed fan of McCarthy from then on).

It's obvious that it's a deep, great book - you don't need an NF review for that. What however, is funny is that just like in The Road, NF had to force himself to read the book - which, given McCarthy's style of writing - terse, pithy, bone dry, compact, without quotation marks, commas or other such punctuations - makes NF's task way harder than usual. Reading McCarthy is like watching a Kurosawa period piece - not a riveting experience at all except for the "a-ha" moment at the end when the depth and vision of the creator overawes you. There were times when frankly, despite the awesome violence and obsession with apocalyptic imagery - a sufficient condition for NF to become a big fan - plodding through the book became work, a task in edification as opposed to fun and enjoyment.

So is Nanga Fakir going to read No Country for Old Men? You bet your ass he will! The "a-ha", somewhat cryptic endings are so worth the plod.


On a tangential, somewhat different note, the website Yelping with Cormac imagines Cormac McCarthy on a restaurant reviewing mission. The result is a brilliant, hilarious pastiche of the McCarthy style of writing.  Here's a wonderful example:

Whole Foods Market
Noe Valley - San Francisco, CA
Cormac M. | Author | Lost in the chaparral, NM
Four stars.
The sheriff and the posse were now a block away and riding seven abreast rifles in hand and horses snorting and wildeyed. The outlaw dropped his pistol and stiffwalked into the parking lot of a grocery store. Around him young women in skintight sporting clothes stopped and stared.
The ground shook as the posse rode up on the parking lot entrance but the sheriff stopped his riders with a raised hand and sawed his palamino around sending the animal sidestepping like a showhorse into a newspaper box which fell over with a great cacophony. When the noise subsided the neighborhood and the parking lot were silent. The riders and the outlaw and the women frozen like actors in some gypsy roadshow.
A rider wearing an elaborate mustache and carrying a Winchester onehanded nudged his quarterhorse toward the sheriff. Hell he’s right there sheriff.
I know it. Im lookin at him same as you.
          What are we waitin for then.
We caint touch him now deputy. They got their own way here.
The riders watched as the women left their station wagons and strollers and encircled the outlaw. As if some ancient instinct united them. Silent as wolves and staring intently at the broken man standing there. He saw his mistake and called out to the riders reaching toward them with his one good arm but was struck down with a savage blow from a rolled yoga mat.


Abhishek Sardar said...

Reading McCarthy is a real pain in the ass. I find reading Roth is much more breezy. Satyavrat almost sounds like your alter-ego or may be I am over-imagining things. :)

Anonymous said...

SatyaVrat is definitely someone's (let's call him/her/it X) alter-ago, now...

Nanga Fakir : X :: Bob Dylan : Bryan Adams :: Gulzar : Samir :: Vishal B. : Madhur Bhandarkar :: Allelopathy : Homoeopathy

they just happened to share some common space! to a Martian though they might look kinda same... no offense :)

but X is actually thrilled just by the idea that one can imagine his/her/its alter ego's to be NF's! as long as alter-ego doesn't mind, X is ok to share it with NF

Nanga Fakir said...

Oh SatyaVrat. You're too humble!