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Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

Child of God (1973)

by Cormac McCarthy

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12. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (1973, 197 page trade paperback, Read Feb 10-13)

Holy necrophilia. Mentally off and completely unsocial, Lester Ballard loses his land and carries on alone in a filthy abandoned house. He is full of desires, partly influenced by his habit of stumbling upon lovers in their cars, but he is unable to understand them. And then things just seem to take on a logic of their own. And there is a logic to it.

I enjoyed reading this, but it bothers me now thinking about it. It's funny and I think McCarthy was having fun. I imagine him not taking himself very seriously, other than working over the writing craft itself. I think he was poking fun at society by seeing how this creature would make his way in it. And I suspect he was intentionally trying to disturb and provoke his readers.

I don't think this is the one McCarthy book anyone should read, but if necrophilia and a few other rancid things don't turn you off, it's a fun book of an odd sort. ( )
  dchaikin | Mar 16, 2015 |
Great writing which is what I expect from McCarthy. The story was another of his that took a long time to get into and follows a character you would never wish to know. I find this book a good character piece but lacking the compelling storyline that makes a great book for me. So good but not great. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Not for the faint of heart. Violence and deviance. One can not just read this story, McCarthy's writing forces one to experience it. ( )
  33racoonie | Jun 23, 2014 |
35% into it and I started to suspect that I wouldn't like where it was going. Read the wiki and quit reading the book. Sorry to the author, but the subject matter is not of my interest.
  TanyaTomato | Jun 18, 2014 |
Reading Cormac McCarthy is often trying to cross a familiar, busy, four way intersection with when the lights aren’t working. There is a mixture of the ordinary daily banal with a sense of surprise and danger. No quotation marks, and other grammar ticks make the reading feel strange and unfamiliar. This sense of never quite feeling comfortable is almost another character in McCarthy’s Child of God.

Ballard, the main character, draws sympathy, and even admiration as a homeless man working to care for himself as best he can. This is quickly followed by revulsion as he violates humanity. The story then seems fueled by the question of whether Ballard is insane or evil. Neither description offers shelter, and in each there is a place where one can see themselves. To my mind this is what makes Child of God so powerful. ( )
  lanewillson | Jun 14, 2014 |
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But the carefully cold, sour diction of this book--whose hostility toward the reader surpasses even that of the world toward Lester--does not often let us see beyond its nasty "writing" into moments we can see for themselves, rendered. And such moments, authentic though they feel, do not much help a novel so lacking in human momentum or point.
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They came like a caravan of carnival folk up through the swales of broomstraw and across the hill in the morning sun, the truck rocking and pitching in the ruts and the musicians on chairs in the truckbed teetering and tuning their instruments, the fat man with guitar grinning and gesturing to others in a car behind and and bending to give a note to the fiddler who turned a fiddlepeg and listened with a wrinkled face.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679728740, Paperback)

"Scuttling down the mountain with the thing on his back he looked like a man beset by some ghast succubus, the dead girl riding him with legs bowed akimbo like a monstrous frog." Child of God must be the most sympathetic portrayal of necrophilia in all of literature. The hero, Lester Ballard, is expelled from his human family and ends up living in underground caves, which he peoples with his trophies: giant stuffed animals won in carnival shooting galleries and the decomposing corpses of his victims. Cormac McCarthy's much-admired prose is suspenseful, rich with detail, and yet restrained, even delicate, in its images of Lester's activities. So tightly focused is the story on this one "child of God" that it resembles a myth, or parable. "You could say that he's sustained by his fellow men, like you.... A race that gives suck to the maimed and the crazed, that wants their wrong blood in its history and will have it."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:33 -0400)

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Falsely accused of rape, Lester Ballard is released from jail, and a trip to the dry-goods store, an errand to the blacksmith, and other incidents are transformed into scenes of the comic and the grotesque.

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