life is like a mountain railroad
"I may be bad, but I feel... good."
Most recently I've been in San Francisco, guestblogging for kidchamp. On the Amtrak there & back I read Blood Meridian, and is it ever overrated. I won't deny that McCarthy gets some nice description in there, and a handful of memorable scenes. I also understand the value of writing an amoral antidote to all the sentimental cowboy fiction out there, and for this I would almost forgive the complete lack of psychological insight or narrative progression other than someone dying in a nasty way every other page, were it not for the style. The style is extremely mannered and not at all difficult to imitate. The style consists of not using commas and using conjunctions instead of commas to link phrases and also linking ideas by repeating words several times in one sentence because there are no commas save for attribution of dialogue. Also obsolete words are used from a quondam age and adjectives are placed after nouns for an effect archaic and portentous. At times sentence fragments to convey immediacy. And whenever something occurs that McCarthy deems significant the sentences will become very long indeed and it will often become nearly impossible to determine what is happening because these long sentences are slight on physical description and heavy on sesquipedalian words which summon an effect of majesty and terror but get in the way of figuring out exactly what is happening in the battle scene although sometimes it is not a battle scene because McCarthy can be relied upon to summon his Style of Very Long Sentences at any time without warning for he seems to fancy himself Faulkner but he is no Faulkner and the reader quickly loses track of all the ands and the reader begins to read much more quickly so as to get through the sentence which is telling her very little and the violence is so constant and repetitive that it loses its shock value after page seventy so that while Blood Meridian did a few things well it became a chore to finish not because of the horror but because of the tedium.
But all is not lost! At American Rag I found a superfly red Dacron shirt, and at Acorn Books I found a pristine paperback of Denis Johnson's first novel Angels and a 1928 first edition of J.B. Pratt's The Pilgrimage of Buddhism, both way out of print, so that even though later that evening the AMC theater dicked us and stuck us in the second row for The Royal Tenenbaums, the day came out with a positive balance.
There is ever so much more, like the 5-day RV trip in Utah, but most of that will have to wait until I return to Iowa, where there is a USB port for my camera. And I will spare you the play-by-play on what the cats are doing.