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Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

Child of God (1973)

by Cormac McCarthy

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1,764473,994 (3.82)119
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    The killer inside me by Jim Thompson (Bridgey)
    Bridgey: Both deal with a small town psychopathic killer

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
A chilling look at an isolated, disrespected man who descends into murder and necrophilia. That said, I find it oddly more compassionate and less reactionary than McCarthy's most recent novels (The Road, No Country for Old Men). McCarthy's brilliance at capturing setting with a few well-chosen details, and his skill at reproducing realistic dialogue are on full display here. Not an easy read, but a rewarding one: where does evil come from? Aren't we all "children of God"? ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
If it were not for the excellent writing style, I would classify this in the genre "horror". Perhaps this might be "literary horror".
Set in the "hills" of Tennessee (could have been in North Carolina or West Virginia) McCarthy describes the lives of people living close to the earth in terms of economic survival. The populace in general possess a level of education based on common sense skills related to daily survival. There is a level below the general populace that might be described as feral. That is where Lester lives.
Feral Lester can use technology; he has a comparatively expensive rifle which he values above all, especially people; further, he is a good shot. Lester does nothing more than he has to do to satisfy basic shelter, clothing and food needs. To satisfy basic sex impulses, Lester finds greater compliance with dead girls than with the living.
This is an engrossing story told in complex, descriptive vocabulary. Some thoughts and feelings ascribed to the characters are expressed in vocabulary far beyond the capabilities of the characters to use. This engages the reader, provokes a lot of thought beyond the printed page, and will occupy the reader for a greater length of time to read than such a short work would normally take. ( )
  ajarn7086 | Jan 23, 2016 |
Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the literarily respectable set. If you enjoy well-written novels with pulpy plots that treat the dirt poor as metaphors for the urbane reader's id, here's your allegorical necrophiliac hillbilly.

Two stars because I liked the chapter with the axe sharpener. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
Bleak without abatement, lushly beautiful without flaws. ( )
  Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
This book descends into madness in a way that unsettled me, which is most likely the point. The story of Lester Ballard is not a nice one. He starts out as a poor, uneducated fellow who lives in a cabin in the woods. His awkward social interactions at first seemed to be no different than any other person in his depressed community. But then, Lester crossed the line between socially awkward pervert to morally depraved criminal. His crimes were hard to read, as they involved necrophilia and murder. At first I was wondering, "What the hell is the point of all this?" But upon reflection, I see how Lester's downward spiral represents a return to the primal, especially since Lester ends his spree living in a cave. Could McCarthy's point, then, be that man, when isolated from all society and morality, naturally descends into cruelty, lack of empathy, and impulsiveness? It's a frightening thought. ( )
  StoutHearted | Sep 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
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.

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cormac McCarthyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gustafsson, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:08 -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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