Reviews

Gnostic Epiphanies

Cormac McCarthy, 56-years-old, is the author of five published novels, which between them have sold approximately fifteen thousand copies in the original hardcover editions, published by Random House. (The Ecco Press, in New York City, is maintaining these titles in print in paperback.) Born in Rhode Island, reared in Tennessee, and traveled in Europe, McCarthy has lived, for the past fifteen years or so, in El Paso, Texas, on the verge of the high desert country of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico that provided the setting for his latest published work, Blood Meridian (1985). There McCarthy is able to live in near anonymity. His closest friends, reportedly, are lawyers and judges. By contrast with the work of his contemporary, the unreadable Thomas Pynchon, McCarthy's novels, according to Professor Bell, are "scarcely read, even in Tennessee, his more or less native state." McCarthy, who refuses stubbornly to abet his publishers and his admirers in their attempts to promote his books, has never had even the limited renown enjoyed by William Faulkner in the 1930's and early 40's. Nevertheless, he is everything that Vereen Bell claims for him: "a major writer in all of the conventional senses of the word, our best unknown major writer by many measures." As for Professor Bell, his own little book is a model of literary criticism, clear and elegant in style, unpretentious in aim and expression.

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