Well this was my first Cormac McCarthy book….now I kind of wish I would have tried another one first. I was super excited to start this because I had a friend recommend it to me, and sing it’s praises relentlessly. Unfortunately I did not have the same feelings.
I will say that McCarthy is a talented writer, he has a real knack for using words well, the way he describes things is impressive, whether it be a tree or isolation. Which I applaud him for, but at the same time for me, it made it that much more frustrating that other things fell flat. I’m not sure how I felt about the writing style, it was different. It took a little getting used to, distinguishing when someone was talking or when it was just narration. I think that it would have been a little easier to do so if any of the characters, sans Ballard, would have been fleshed out, but alas they were not. It’s hard to get to know someone’s voice if they rarely ever have one. Ballard was the main character, I mean in all honesty he was mostly the only character. A few other people made appearances but they may as well have just been background noise. No one made much of an impression, or was around enough to really do so.
I think my biggest problem with this story though is that I had a hard time bridging the gap between Lester just being a loner weirdo to basically stumbling upon becoming a murdering, necrophiliac animal. I mean he seemed definitely seemed off at the beginning of the story, but I wouldn’t have pictured him capable of the atrocities that came to be. It seemed as if Ballard had never come upon that scene on the side of the road that none of the following horrors would have came to be. I wish there would have been more ground work laid in there. Maybe if I had known more about Ballard or his desires I would have been able to understand how he came to be what he ended up being. I’ll give it to McCarthy that it is truly unnerving to think that one coincidence could dramatically alter so much so quickly. I unfortunately just found that a little too much to swallow.
I don’t think this will be the last book I read by this author, I would like to see more of his work. I’m thinking maybe this particular one was not for me. I enjoy the books where I walk away feeling something after having read a story, even if it’s anger or fear. I’ve read stories where you are surrounded by villains, or terrible circumstances, and I still enjoyed reading them. The only difference I can really think of between those books and this one is that I was invested in the story and/or the characters. I cared about something, whether it was the outcome, an answer to a question, or whatever. But I just couldn’t bring myself to care about much of anything here. Not saying that’s a problem with the book, but it was my personal problem with the book.
***Oh total kickass side note and random piece of awesomness….I think that it’s hysterical that I share a last name with the psycho in this book. It was fun writing Ballard throughout this entire review, too bad he was so gross.***