Thursday, May 11, 2017

Someone Had to Say It

The Hound said it. 

Cormac McCarthy was an awful writer.

The Hound and the Bear is a majority in any company. For charity's sake, let's say he was talentless, and no one had the heart to tell him. Critics lavish praise upon him because they lavish praise on anyone that irritate ordinary people.

Bear thinks he was a stylist. He made his own rules because he could, not because he had discovered a better punctuation or grammar. Stylists are fine if, as nature intended, they blow up and we are done with them. When their literary ashes, mixed with dead leaves and bits of bird nests are mucked out of the gutter and preserved for all time like your little darling's kindergarten pictures, then nature as been defeated.

Whenever nature has been defeated, you know what happens.

Mother Nature releases her favorites: the dogged hound and the eviscerating Bear. Here's the Bear's own contribution, although it has been a long time, and it was shunted directly down the incinerator chute in his 450 gm brain.


He could see the highway from where he was both ways. He was on a berm a good high one with a good view. It ran before three cabins each cabin in which was a woman who loved him. He could feel the bubo on the back of his neck like an alka seltzer boil blooming in the sun which was a quarter past. Noon he thought. Maybe a quarter til. He gazed at the sun until he was blind. He would have to shoot the Negroes by sound.

Where he was they could not see him either. The Negroes not the girls who loved him.

It had gotten that bad in what two weeks ago was the good part of town where the only Negro you saw wore a uniform of some sort and not a police one.

The bubo was joined by another right on the end of his nose so he would not get a clear shot anyway. Why did he drink those gin fizz. The size of a golf ball the white kind he could hear the thwack carry from the country club a quarter mile to his left.

In one of the cabins was Consuela bare legs splayed behind her cello. In the next Mitzi a math whiz drawing doodles with long yellow fingers and stubby bits of chalk she hoped would save the world but he knew different. He had to leave the knife of screeching fingernails bleeding him dry from the great vein in his neck.

Gin fizz had egg in them. He was allergic to eggs. Peanut butter too. But he ate the peanut butter sandwiches and drank the gin fizzes with eggs in them anyway. Why. He used the touch readout to consult the Stupidometer he could not see with blistered retinas. He figured as much. The now needle with no color made of iron was buried so far in stupid not a molecule of the gin fizz he had laid down his carbine to pick up could fit between the fixings.

Why drink another gin fizz.

Why not.

Why another bubo on his buttock the right one at least.

Why not. It all made sense at last the gin fizzes the bubos the women the country club and the Negroes. He did not dislike them but it was their mutual nature to lay down with never a getting up. Sunday morning at Bedside Baptist forever.

It could be worse.

No it couldn't.

Because it made no difference although the prettiest of the girls she might have been 17 he told himself that because she was rich and had a rich daddy somewhere far from Negroes and Mexicans in Trumpland. If only he could get them all and the unborn baby but she was a pretty little thing and pretty did not last. Hell three bubos would last longer, outlast them all.


  1. Hahahaha! Bear, I'd have to say that you and John Zmirak are my favorite Catholic writers. I'd love to get you two together over a few cold ones, it would be hysterical.
    Btw, I admit I liked the movie version of McCarthy's NCFOM, probably bec. I live in Texas and have known these characters. I know you didn't care for it.

  2. Oh my, how true is this - such a relief to see this confirmed by such a one as the Bear! I've had to suffer The Road *three times* as all three of my children studied it in school, and my word, was that hard...trying to help them get interested and engage with a book that just made me cringe at every line. Can't stand that book. And they'd introduced The Road to replace Pride and Prejudice! I mean for goodness' sake...

  3. ugh. disgusting. I know. that was the point. right.
    What the heck is a bubo?

  4. I have been re-reading LITR all week. It's his best.

  5. Nancy, a bubo is a pustule. As in "bubonic" plague.

  6. Partly because the claim seems to be so controversial, even among people I usually agree with on other things, I went back and forth on the language. And I didn't want to be seem too personally snarky against McCarthy, the man. Some people whom I respect seem to think he's a good guy (however bad his writing is). So I wimped out and settled for "Cormac McCarthy is not a very good writer." Kudos to you for stating it more plainly.

  7. There is so sin in writing badly. There is no sin in liking bad writing. I like Raymond Chandler another stylist past his sell-by date. But I do not think I would be offended, or feel the need to leap to the defense of Chandler. A stylist is like a bad photographer who takes a picture with the sun to his back so that it falls over the subject like a black paper cutout of the photographer.

    Every writer has some sort of style. But when I read a book and I imagine hearing, "Hey, Raymond Chandler here, don't forget. By the way, did you know I, Raymond Chandler wrote this?" It bothers me. Now, since I like Chandler - his loopy fun with language and overstuffed chairs of description in which to relax, it doesn't bother me.

    Cormac McCarthy just doesn't give me the same sly pleasure as Raymond Chandler sharing his little in-joke. It just sounds like bad writing - is bad writing - because what the Hell is he doing it for? How is it contributing? It seems like "this is for me and the critics, not you ordinary people."

    And yet, people insist that they like what he wrote, and I have no reason to doubt them. No problem.

    It still doesn't make it good writing.

  8. I use the courtroom analogy. You change language in all sorts of ways in court. You speak one way to the jury, one way to the court and another to opposing counsel. (Ha, you legal all minds think poor old Bear is losing it, but he knows exactly what he is saying.) You play with time. Little. Tiny. Sentences. Dilate. Time - for emphasis. ("He turned and fired and she dropped" just won't do.) Language in service to a purpose, rather than for its own sake.

    I can see myself in court, maybe not with a tortilla, but with a pistol, if I were a prosecutor.

    "That defendant reached into his pocket for the Smith and Wesson .38 revolver. He had put that revolver in his pocket when he left that morning. All day he knew exactly what he was going to do with that revolver. He could feel all 22 ounces of that revolver loaded with five bullets, right there in his pocket. It didn't leave his person for a moment. And he knew exactly into whose body he was going put those five bullets from - THIS... revolver. That defendant planned it, he thought about for sixteen whole hours, and when he decided to the very second a wife, a mom of four - his victim - Mary Gardner, would die from three bullets to the chest. ruining that heart of Mrs. Gardner, so full of love [sure go ahead and object to that], one into her brain and even one into Choo-Choo her little little Scottie pup... that man pulled this revolver from his pocket, close enough that he could not miss, and fired five shots. BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! The final one silencing brave little Choice-Choo! who died with his blood mingled with the blood of his dead mistress, defending her to the last against this... revolver? No. Really against that defendant.

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  10. It is interesting that he seems to be so popular not just among the usual suspects - lit critics and so on - but also among "average" readers. And many people that I know who are usually disdainful of pretentious post-modernist stuff also seem to like him. It does make one think that there must be something going on. I wish I could see it.

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  11. People actually PAY for that garbage? A fool and his money....


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