Friday, 22 October 2010

Blood Merdian by Cormac McCarthy. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut.

I can't decide if I really disliked either one, but quit them both for the same reason. BM was bleak, the character “the kid” wasn't really a character. The same with the guy in MN. I think I got to over 80 pages on both books. I don't know what these authors are trying to portray in their novels. There's quite a lot in McCarthy's writing, but his prose makes in inaccessible. There's very little in KV's writing, but his prose is more simplistic. The outcome is the same.

The characters in both deny us access to their conscious. The point of the books leave you wondering if there is one. Both could be about Gnosticism or at least Blood Meridian is meant to be but I'm not going to pretend I didn't just come across the term. Worst post I've done. Read about 25% of BM and about 40% of MN.

1 comment:

Janna said...

Hi Jake,

I very much enjoyed, and largely agreed, with your reflections (I won't use the word review as I know you dislike it) on Slaughterhouse 5, they were thoughtful and incisive. Mother Night is a very different book. While Slaughterhouse 5 wears its morality on its sleeve - war is bad, people are cogs in a larger machine etc etc, Mother Night purposefully leaves the reader doubting the morality of the narrator and the truth of his story, and as a result the moral condition of humanity as a whole. The quote at the beginning "we are what we pretend to be, so we better be careful what we pretend to be" is a portent to the way the story unfolds. We are reading the narrator's story - what is true or real in this story we aren't meant to know. I finished the book wondering if any of it was true - I quite liked that feeling but I can see how it might be an unsatisfactory resolution. You are right - there's not much in the way of character development and the phrase 'unreliable narrator' might well have been invented for Howard W. Campbell.
One of the things I like most about the book is the fact that there are moments of beauty (the love affair between Howard and Resi/Helga) in an otherwise morally bankrupt world (its set against the Holocaust, and spies and double agents also feature heavily).

Enjoy your 'winter break'.

Janna Connorton