Tag Archives: cormac mccarthy

A Drowning Incident

McCarthy, C. J. “A Drowning Incident.” The Phoenix: Orange and White Literary Supplement. Mar. 1960. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee. p. 3-4.

“The black widow came threading her way toward it, and when she reached it she began a weaving motion over it with her legs as if performing some last rite.” p. 3

“He could hear the faint liquid purling even then, even before he emerged from the willows where the bridge crosses, glimpsed through the green lacework the fan of water beyond where the sun broke and danced on the stippled surface like silver bees.” p. 3

“Then with the gentle current drifted from beneath the bridge a small puppy, rolling and bumping along the bottom of the creek, turning weightlessly in the slow water. He watched uncomprehendingly. It spun slowly to stare at him with sightless eyes, turning its white belly to the softly diffused sunlight, its legs stiff and straight in an attitude of perpetual resistance. It drifted on, hid momentarily in a band of shadow, emerged, then slid beneath the hammered silver of the water surface and was gone.” p. 3-4

“It ebbed softly for a moment, then, tugged by a corner of the current, a small black and white figure, curled fetally, emerged. It was like witnessing the underwater birth of some fantastic subaqueous organism. It swayed hesitantly for a moment before turning to slide from sight in the faster water.”

“He lifted the stinking bag and looked at it. It was soggy and through a feathered split in the bottom little black hairs protruded like spiderfeet.” p. 4


Suttree influences

from books-and-movies-that-influenced-the-writing-of-suttree thread at http://www.cormacmccarthy.com

Davis Grubbs

Night of the Hunter

George Washington Harris

Sut Lovingood: Yarns Spun By a Nat’ral Born Durn’d Fool

William Faulkner

Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom! and The Reivers

William Shakespeare

(characters liked by Faulkner) Falstaff, Prince Hal, Nick Bottom, Mercutio, Huck Finn, Jim

Falstaff at Herne’s Oak, from “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Act V, Scene v, James Stephanoff, 1832. Via Wikimedia.

Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1848-1851). Titania and Bottom. Edwin Henry Landseer (1802–1873). Via Wikimedia.

Joseph Conrad

Dante Alighieri

James Joyce


Nelson Algren

The Neon Wilderness and A Walk on the Wild Side

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Walt Whitman

T.S. Eliot

W. B. Yeats

John Keats

Hermann Hesse


Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn

Herman Melville

H. L. Mencken

(Henry Louis Mencken) See The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1907)

Scopes Trial (1925)

The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes/The Scopes Monkey Trial and Tennessee’s Butler Act. (On human evolution)


The Crossing

McCarthy, Cormac.The Crossing. Kindle Edition. 1994.

“When their father was done he looked up. His eyes were very blue and very beautiful half hid away in the leathery seams of his face. As if there were something there that the hardness of the country had not been able to touch.” (location 231)

“In the jars dark liquids. Dried viscera. Liver, gall, kidneys. The inward parts of the beast who dreams of man and has so dreamt in running dreams a hundred thousand years and more. Dreams of that malignant lesser god come pale and naked and alien to slaughter all his clan and kin and rout them from their house. A god insatiable whom no ceding could appease nor any measure of blood.”  (location 239)

“Echols one time told me that tryin to get the best of a wolf is like tryin to get the best of a kid. It aint that they’re smarter. It’s just that they aint got all that much else to think about.” (location 388)

“The lights of the town strewn across the prairie lay in that blue vale like a jeweled serpent incandescing in the evening cool.” (location 714)

“The snow on the north slopes so pale. Like spaces left for messages.” (location 721)

“Who can dream of God? This man did. In his dreams God was much occupied. Spoken to He did not answer. Called to did not hear. The man could see Him bent at his work. As if through a glass. Seated solely in the light of his own presence. Weaving the world. In his hands it flowed out of nothing and in his hands it vanished into nothing once again. Endlessly. Endlessly. So. Here was a God to study.” (location 2211)

“A God who seemed a slave to his own selfordinated duties.” (location 2213)

“A low door connected them and in the corner of the second room was a fireplace and a small altar with a Virgin of painted wood. A jar that held dead weeds. A drinking glass in the bottom of which lay a medallion of blackened wax. Against the wall stood a contrivance of poles lashed together into a frame and webbed with strips of rawhide with the hair on. It had the look of some rude agrarian implement but was in fact a bed. He blew out the match and walked out and stood in the door. Boyd was sitting on the stoop watching the girl. She was at the watering trough at the far end of the compound holding the horses while they drank. She and the two horses and the dog were surrounded by a semicircle of sitting dogs of every stripe and color but she paid them no mind. She stood very patiently with the horses while they drank. While they raised their dripping mouths and looked about and while they drank again. She did not touch the horses nor talk to them. She just waited while they drank and they drank for a long time.” (location 3231)

“Boyd put the last corner of the taco in his mouth and sat chewing. What do you reckon is in these tacos? he said. Cats. Cats? Sure. You see how the dog was lookin at you? They aint done it, said Boyd. You see any cats in the street? It’s too hot for cats in the street. You see any in the shade? There could be some laid up in the shade somewheres. How many cats have you seen anywheres? You wouldnt eat a cat, Boyd said. Even to get to watch me eat one. I might. No you wouldnt. I would if I was hungry enough. You aint that hungry. I was pretty hungry. Wasnt you? Yeah. I aint now. We aint eat no cats have we? No. Would you know it if we had? Yeah. You would too.” (location 3844)

“Si el mundo es ilusión la pérdida del mundo es ilusión también.” (location 4233)

****”He prodded the ashes with a stick. The few red coals that turned up in the fire’s black heart seemed secret and improbable. Like the eyes of things disturbed that had best been left alone.” (location 4876)

“along those unseen corridors writ in their blood a hundred thousand years.” (location 4924)

“The names of the cerros and the sierras and the deserts exist only on maps. We name them that we do not lose our way. Yet it was because the way was lost to us already that we have made those names. The world cannot be lost. We are the ones. And it is because these names and these coordinates are our own naming that they cannot save us. That they cannot find for us the way again.” (location 5815)

“He said that in any case the past was little more than a dream and its force in the world greatly exaggerated. For the world was made new each day and it was only men’s clinging to its vanished husks that could make of that world one husk more.” (location 6169)

“In their images they had thought to find some small immortality but oblivion cannot be appeased.”  (location 6205)

an old dog “so scarred and broken that it might have been patched up out of parts of dogs by demented vivisectionists.” (location 6362)

Read February/March, 2014

All the Pretty Horses

McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. Kindle Edition. 1992.

“A long fan of light ran out from the east and the rising sun swelled blood red along the horizon.” (location 1285)

“I dont believe in signing on just till it quits suitin you.” (location 2323)

“and a thin white dog who seemed to have been awaiting just such an arrival came over and urinated for a long time against the rear tire of the truck and went back.” (location 2609)

“That all courage was a form of constancy. That it was always himself that the coward abandoned first. After this all other betrayals came easily.” (location 3508)

“as he rode he talked to it and told it things about the world that were true in his experience and he told it things he thought could be true to see how they would sound if they were said.” (location 3609)

“repeated what his father had once told him, that scared money cant win and a worried man cant love.” (location 3683)

“walls where the first lamps were lit, the narrow spires of smoke standing vertically into the windless dawn so still the village seemed to hang by threads from the darkness.”  (location 3837)

“sleep he dreamt of horses and the horses in his dream moved gravely among the tilted stones like horses come upon an antique site where some ordering of the world had failed and if anything had been written on the stones the weathers had taken it away again and the horses were wary and moved with great circumspection carrying in their blood as they did the recollection of this and other places where horses once had been and would be again.” (location 4187)

“me not to chew on somethin that was eatin you.” (location 4355)

“They sat very quietly. The dead moon hung in the west and the long flat shapes of the nightclouds passed before it like a phantom fleet.”  (location 4469)

Read June-July 1213

Cormac McCarthy reading list

To read

Fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah, Foster Bible. Via Wikimedia.

The Bible

Canterbury Tales, Woodcut 1484. Via Wikimedia.

Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and CriseydeThe Book of the Duchess

Satan presiding at the Infernal Council. 1824. John Martin. Via Wikimedia.

John Milton: Paradise Lost  Areopagitica


Etching of Joseph O. Eaton’s portrait of Herman Melville. Via Wikimedia.

Herman Melville: Typee,Omoo,Moby-Dick 

William Faulkner


Flannery O’Connor Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Thomas Pynchon: V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, Mason & Dixon

MacKinlay Kantor: Andersonville, If the South Had Won the Civil War

Portrait of Dostoyevsky (Ф.М.Достоевского) by Vasily Perov, 1872. Via Wikimedia.

Ф.М.Достоевского Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Idiot, Demons, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment  

The Sound and The Fury

 Faulkner, William. The Sound and The Fury. New York: Vintage International, 1990. Print. (1984 correction, first ed. 1929)

Luster “If you don’t hush, you know what I going to do. I going to eat that cake all up. Eat them candles, too. Eat all them thirty three candles. Come on, les go down to the branch. I got to find my quarter.” p. 4

“”Where’d you get a quarter, boy. Find it in white folks’ pocket while they aint looking.”
“Got it at the getting place.” Luster said. “Plenty more where that one come from. Only I got to find that one. Is you all found it yet.”
“I aint studying no quarter. I got my own business to tend to.”” p. 14

“The bones rounded out of the ditch, where the dark vines were in the black ditch, into the moonlight, like some of the shapes had stopped.” p. 33-34

“Caddy got the box and set it on the floor and opened it. It was full of stars. When I was still, they were still. When I moved, they glinted and sparkled. I hushed.” p. 41

Et ego in arcadia (Et in arcadia ego)p. 44

“And one evening, when they was about a dozen them bluegum chillen running around the place, he never come home. Possum hunters found him in the woods, et clean. And you know who et him. Them bluegum chillen did.” p. 69

“You’ve been running a long time, not to’ve got any further off than mealtime, Jason said.” p. 71

“Then he went to the window and looked out. He came back and took my arm. Here she come, he said. Be quiet, now. We went to the window and looked out. It came out of Quentin’s window and climbed across into the tree. We watched the tree shaking. The shaking went down the tree, then it came out and we watch it go away across the grass. Then we couldn’t see it.” p. 74

“I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” p. 76

“I passed the jeweler’s window, but I looked away in time. At the corner two bootblacks caught me, one on either side, shrill and raucous, like blackbirds. I gave the cigar to one of them, and the other one a nickel. Then they let me alone. The one with the cigar was trying to sell it to the other for the nickel.” p. 83

“He was going bald. There was a glass in his eye–a metal tube screwed into his face. I went in.
The place was full of ticking, like crickets in September grass, and I could hear a big clock on the wall above his head. He looked up, his eye big and blurred and rushing beyong the glass.” p. 83

“There were about a dozen watches in the window, a dozen different hours and each with the same assertive and contradictiory assurance that mine had, without any hands at all. Contradiction one another.” p. 85

“And all that day, while the train wound through rushing gaps and along ledges where movement was only a laboring sound of the exhaust and groaning wheels and the eternal mountains stood fading into the thick sky,” p. 88

“The ship went through the bridge, moving under bare poles like a ghost in broad day, with three gulls hovering above the stern like toys on invisible wires.” p. 89-90

***”It twinkled and glinted, like breathing, the float slow like a breathing too, and debris half submerged, healing out to the sea and the caverns and the grottoes of the sea.” p. 90

“You can feel noon. I wonder if even miners in the bowels of the earth.” p. 104

“Father said that a man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you’d think misfortune would get tired, but then time is your misfortune Father said.” p. 104

“I could still see the smoke stack. That’s where the water would be, healing out to the sea and the peaceful grottoes.” p. 112

“Only our country was not like this country. There was something about just walking through it. A kind of still and violent fecundity that satisfied even bread-hunger like. Flowing around you, not brooding and nursing every niggard stone.” p. 113

“The bridge was of gray stone, lichened, dappled with slow moisture where the fungus crept. Beneath it the water was clear and still in the shadow, whispering and clucking about the stone in fading swirls of spinning sky.” p. 115

“The arrow increased without motion, then in a quick swirl the trout lipped a fly beneath the surface with that sort of gigantic delicacy of an elephant picking up a peanut.” p. 116-117

***”Then they talked about what they would do with twenty-five dollars. They all talked at once, their voices insistent and contradictory and impatient, making of unreality a possibility, then a probability, then an incontrovertible fact, as people will when their desires become words.” p. 117

“He leaned on the rail, looking down at the trout which he had already spent, and suddenly the acrimony, the conflict, was gone from their voices, as if to them too it was as though he had captured the fish and bought his horse and wagon, they too partaking of that adult trait of being convinced of anything by an assumption of silent superiority.” p. 118

“The street turned again. I could see the white cupola, the round stupid assertion of the clock.” p. 124

“took up the coins and found two coppers in her apron and gave them to me. I handed them to the little girl. Her fingers closed about them, damp and hot, like worms.” p. 126-127

“She looked at me. She chewed quietly and steadily; at regular intervals a small distension passed smoothly down her throat. I opened my package and gave her one of the buns. “Good bye,” I said. p. 129

“Them furriners. I cant tell one from another. You might take her across the tracks where they live, and maybe somebody’ll claim her.” p. 130

“I don’t know
outside the gray light the shadows of things like dead
things in stagnant water” p. 157

“I went to the diningroom. Quentin was sitting with her head bent. She had painted her face again. Her nose looked like a porcelain insulator.” p. 257

“She had been a big woman once but now her skeleton rose, draped loosely in unpadded skin that tightened again upon a paunch almost dropsical, as though muscle and tissue had been courage or fortitude which the days or the years had consumed until only the indomitable skeleton was left rising like a ruin or a landmark above the somnolent and impervious guts, and above that the collapsed face that gave the impression of the bones themselves being outside the flesh, lifted into the driving day with an expression at once fatalistic and of a child’s astonished disappointment, until she turned and entered the house again and closed the door.” p. 265-266

“saw the old woman in her quilted dressing gown at the head of the stairs, calling her name with machinelike regularity.” p. 270

“It was not the bottle which Mrs Compson wanted, however, and clutching it by the neck like a dead hen Dilsey went to the foot of the stairs and looked upward.” p. 270

“She made no further move, but though she could not see her save as a blobby shape without depth, Mrs Compson knew that she had lowered her face a little and that she stood now like cows do in the rain, holding the empty water bottle by its neck.” p. 272

“The window was open. A pear tree grew there, close against the house. It was in bloom and the branches scraped and rasped against the house and the myriad air, driving in the window, brought into the room the forlon scent of the blossoms.” p.

“The Ben wailed again, hopeless and prolonged. It was nothing. Just sound. It might have been all time and injustice and sorrow become vocal for an instant by a conjunction of planets.” p. 288

“Two tears slid down her fallen cheeks, in and out of the myriad coruscations of immolation and abnegation and time.” p. 295

“But he bellowed slowly, abjectly, without tears; the grave hopeless sound of all voiceless misery under the sun.” p. 316

To read Absalom, Absalom! (1936), A Fable (1954), As I lay Dying (1930)

To re-read The Sound and the Fury.

Read the poem Kubla Khan (1816) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

To read poem The Waste Land (1922) by T. S. Eliot

The Gardener’s Son

McCarthy, Cormac. The Gardener’s Son: a screenplay. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Print.   

“Whipper: They say that God sends no man a burden greater than what he can bear.
“Mr McEnvoy: Ay. Nor much less, neither.” p. 69

“There are always these strangers waiting for those who cannot set their house in order.” p. 73

“Once people are dead they’re not good nor bad. They’re just dead.” p. 94

Indiewire article on the TV film

Richard Pearce (director)

OCLC WorldCat The Gardener’s Son (TV film)

The Orchard Keeper (II)

McCarthy, Cormac. The Orchard Keeper. New York, N.Y.: Vintage International, 1993. Print. (First ed. 1965).

“Half blue tick and half walker.” p. 135

Talking about “being skeered of painters” 148-150.

Muskydine wine p. 150

“They sipped their wine with the solemnity of communicants, troglodytes gathered in some firelit cave. The lamp guttered in a draft of wind and their shadows, ponderous and bearlike upon the wall, weaved in unison.” p.150

“Old Bill, he backed off some, said that old she-painter might be around. Well, I was younger’n him and likely didn’t have as good sense, so in I goes and grabs the little feller up by the scruff of the neck.” p. 152

“And two days later the charred shaft of the pine tree still smoldering, pitch bubbling gently from the shell of the bark and small electricblue flames seeping and curling, the spire of smoke standing straight up in the motionless air like a continuation of the tree itself.” p. 163

“They began to unload, carrying the cases back into the garage, the car creaking and rising bit by bit until they had finished and it stood with its rear end high in the air like a cat in heat.” p. 165

“The old man watched them from his window darting and skulking among the bushes, slipping from tree to tree like boys playing Indians.” p. 185

“The old man sat very still on the floor. One shot struck the stove begind him and leaped off with an angry spang, taking the glass out of the table lamp. It was like being in a room full of invisible and malevolent spirits.” p. 186

“They went silently along over the trace of the quarry road, the sledge whispering, the gaunt dog padding, past the quarryhole with its vaporous green waters and into the woods again, the limestone white against the dark earth, a populace of monstrous slugs dormant in a carbon forest.” p. 189

“Well, Huffaker said, I couldn’t tell you offhand where-all you might find him at. He lives up yander somewheres–a random gesture at the brooding hills that cupped in the valley.” p. 196

“In the woods mists like old gray spirits paled and scattered, by moss coverlets the dark earth stirred and nightfurled wildflowers unbent their withered fronds all down the path where came the derelict hound shambling along in an aureole of its own incredibility,” p. 199

“Through a gap in the trees he could see the valley far below him where the river ran, a cauldron in the mountain’s shadow where smoke and spume seethed like the old disturbance of the earth erupting once again, black mist languidin the cuts and trenches as flowing lava and the palisades of rock rising in the high-shored rim beyond the valley,” p. 200-201

about the old man and his dog “proceeding on the weathered sun-washed bridge, jaunty and yet sad, like maimed soldiers returning.” p. 202

cat being prey to an owl 216-217
“When she left the rocks, was clear of the overreaching branches of the tree, there grew about her a shadow in the darkness like pooled ink spreading, a soft-hissing feathered sound which ceased even as she half turned, saw unbelieving the immense span of wings cupped downward, turned again, already squalling when the owl struck her back like a falling rock.” p. 217

“Cats is smart, allowed the old man. Course it could of been a common everyday housecat. They’ll tear up anything they come up on, a cat will. Housecats is smart too. Smarter’n a dog or a mule. Folks thinks they ain’t on account of you cain’t learn em nothin, but what it is is that they won’t learn nothin. They too smart.” p. 227

“The sun broke through the final shelf of clouds and bathed for a moment the dripping trees with blood, tinted the stones a diaphanous wash of color, as if the very air had gone to wine.” p. 246

“They are gone now. Fled, banished in death or exile, lost, undone. Over the land sun and wind still move to burn and sway the trees, the grasses. No avatar, no scion, no vestige of that people remains. On the lips of the strange race that now dwells there their names are myth, legend, dust.” p. 246