things of little relevance


cormac mccarthy
November 16, 2009, 12:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Perri emailed me an interview with Cormac McCarthy in the WSJ. I’m not Cormac McCarthy’s biggest fan (confession: I liked the movie No Country for Old Men better than the book…), but the interview is pretty great:

WSJ: Does this issue of length apply to books, too? Is a 1,000-page book somehow too much?

CM: For modern readers, yeah. People apparently only read mystery stories of any length. With mysteries, the longer the better and people will read any damn thing. But the indulgent, 800-page books that were written a hundred years ago are just not going to be written anymore and people need to get used to that. If you think you’re going to write something like “The Brothers Karamazov” or “Moby-Dick,” go ahead. Nobody will read it. I don’t care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different.

And as Perri aptly puts it in her e-mail:

“Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.” Cormac McCarthy, on what might as well be graduate school in the liberal arts.

Too true!

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1 Comment so far
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McCarthy is totes wrong about the 1,000-page book. A lot of the super-long books published back in the day were published serially, so when, for instance, Brothers Karamazov came out, people didn’t break open a 800-page book. No one would serialize a book like that today because the format doesn’t exist anymore. Moby Dick wasn’t even successful until after Melville died, so its not like gigantic books were flying off the shelves back in the day. And what about Roberto Bolano? David Foster Wallace? Haruki Murakami? People still write long books that are read by people (nevermind that two of those three people are dead).

Perhaps McCarthy is sad because no one wants to read a 1,000-page novel about post-apocalyptic cannibalism and other varieties of senseless and gruesome violence.

Comment by Sasha




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