Monday, October 09, 2006

A quick personal update before we return to the books:

I read all of these back in Vancouver over the early summertime. I'm now back in Texas, living in scenic Hyde Park near the UT campus. It's nice to be home. I'm still nine or ten books behind in posting, but trying to devote a little time to playing catch up.

The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy’s wrote The Orchard Keeper long before All the Pretty Horses, Blood Meridian, and No Country for Old Men had catapulted him to near the top of the short list of those the NYT Book Review considers to be the best living American authors.

The Orchard Keeper lacks the ferocity and might of Blood Meridian, or the attention to cultural beauty of his Cities of the Plains novels, but does keep a nice focus on natural beauty. There are many loving stares at ice forming on the edge of streams, the behaviors of animals and trees, and so on. If this sounds a little sleepy, well, it is. But the novel isn’t dull exactly.

From a plotting standpoint, we’ve got a couple of characters whose fates are intertwined and bound in purpose to one another by a long cold killing committed in self defense. The glacial, but steady invasion of modernity and progress into the Tennessee Valley provides the other impetus for change here, as an old man and a boy run afoul of the law.

This is a beautifully written novel; McCarthy has a skilled ear for regional dialog, a trained mind for precision in language usage, and a sincere love of rural spaces. It’s not his best, but it’s still light beyond what most ever accomplish.

I'm also very excited to note that McCarthy has just released a new novel called The Road, which deals with my favorite topic: APOCALYPSE! I'm off to the bookstore to buy it!

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