Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: 'Child of God' by Cormac McCarthy

Title: Child of God

Author: Cormac McCarthy
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: 2010 (first published 1973)
Genre: Adult, Horror, Psychological Thriller
Length: 186 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

By the author of the critically acclaimed Border Trilogy, Child of God is a taut, chilling novel that plumbs the depths of human degradation. Lester Ballard, a violent, solitary and introverted young backwoodsman dispossessed on his ancestral land, is released from jail and allowed to haunt the hill country of East Tennessee, preying on the population with his strange lusts. McCarthy transforms commonplace brushes with humanity - in homesteads, stores and in the woods - into stunning scenes of the comic and the grotesque, and as the story hurtles toward its unforgettable conclusion, depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humour, and characteristic lyrical brilliance. 

I'm having a hard time rating this because I didn't 'really like it' but I did like McCarthy's writing. The quote on the front of this book by Tobias Wolff fits almost perfectly. 

"His prose, unfailingly beautiful and exact, carries us into a dreamworld of astonishing and violent revelation." 

Take out 'dreamworld' and it's a perfectly apt description. Even with the disturbing content, I enjoyed the prose. So while I've rated it 3 stars, I'd say it's more like a 3.5 or 4. 

Warning to the reader, though, that this book is not for the faint of heart. I'd lump it into the categories of 'serial killer fiction' or 'most disturbing books I've ever read'. I wouldn't put it at the top of my 'most disturbing books' list though, because I've read much worse. There are a few controversial themes that are touched on but not in great detail. I actually liked that McCarthy delved into such a disturbing topic without dragging out the worst parts, leaving some or most of what is going on in the book to the reader's imagination (if you dare to think along those deep dark lines). 

Overall, it wasn't too disturbing but it's very understandable why 'Child of God' is considered a 'Banned Book' and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but adults. 

My Rating:

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