Outer Dark


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The two characters seem oblivious to their original error incest , though McCarthy cleverly never reveals that in explicit terms. The brother and sister are innocents, spat upon this earth by unfortunate accidents, and their child is abandoned by the lad out of sheer confusion and no doubt an instinct for self preservation.

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It is an error that sets them both on journeys through Appalachia with nary a rag on their backs, one searching for the other and the mother for her child. A gnome-like misanthrope becomes an unwitting enabler and suffers like many at the hands of a triad of monsters who roam the wild periphery of the embryonic civilizations of this place and time in turn of the century America but who knows, the towns, times and often the people are irrelevant in the ancient form of fables. The people, animals and land are exquisitely drawn in fine intricacy.

McCarthy has talent for defining the physical landscape of life and its movement. Most notably, the dialects and unmarked he uses no quotations dialogue are raw, authentic and real. It is an act of wizardry the way this author captures the idiom and words of this time and place.

There is no moralistic tone nor manipulation of the reader, though in the end it is very much a clever parable that instructs morally. This was written well before Deliverance, so the wild Appalachian monster was well molded by the time Dickey put his popular story out. Outer dark is the story of blindness, the play of light on nature, and an allegory for how humans are sucked into their mire, even in the shrieking light of day, and cannot escape the one road that drives them, head down and wary, inexorably toward a fearful fate. The child at the end is a damaged, battered, injured victim that the reader fervently hopes will be spared.

But, of course, this is McCarthy and he is not going to often give us relief. Many will find this deeply disturbing. For me it is the cautionary tale that I need to hear time and again, so I can avoid my own fate, or at least face it with honor and seek the goodness of God in its pursuit.

I found the book easy to read compared to other McCarthy. The novel is lively and traces the movements of each innocent and the terrible cadre of monsters that lurk at the edges, un-abated by the civilized world. In some respects, this is a dark version of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, with the escapades of grave robbery, lynchings and generalized racism that runs throughout. She stopped at the sight of this apparition. The road went in deep woods and constant damp and the house was grown with a rich velour of moss and lichen and brooded in a palpable miasma of rot.

Chickens had so scratched the soil from the yard that knobs and knees of treeroots stood everywhere in grotesque configuration up out of the earch like some gathering of the mad laid suddenly bare in all their writhen attitudes of pain. He leaned his face toward her. Give, he said. I give a lifetime wanderin in a country where I was despised. Can you give that? View all 6 comments.


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Color rating: Crimson Here, in this forested glade lorded over by Moloch, I could remain evermore. I speak, of course, of The Bearded One, Harmon, and he-with-no-name.

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These avenging angeldemons are a creation of pure genius; a category-defying motley of Recompense and Reckoning that blur the line between God and Devil to its properly indistinguishable blood smudge. Hounded by grief, by guilt, or like this cheerless vendor clamored at heel through wood and fen by his own querulous and inconsolable wares in perennial tin malediction.

Outer Dark reads like some expurgated book of the Old Testament, where allegory and metaphor replace overt action. It is thick-clotted at the jugular, and when it breaks free it devastates with grotesque beauty. Let us make Moloch this sacrifice and remain cool in the shade of the selfsame. View all 21 comments. I'm not a fan of nonsense lyrical language nor am I a fan of incest cannibalist nihilism or lack of punctuation so this book is probably not the book for me.

View all 9 comments.


  1. The Outer Dark - AbeBooks - Cormac McCarthy: ;
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  3. Classics Review: Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy.

Mar 06, Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing Shelves: southern-literature , pollock-picks Absolute pleasure to read. Artistic perfection. The book and the author are classics! Update after second reading. A horrible and violent story, beautifully written. No happy ending. View all 23 comments. One of them old-timey people from in the bible. This was as bleak and foreboding as each McCarthy novel I've read so far. Almost put me off BBQ meat, though This was my second Cormac McCarthy read, having initiated myself years ago with his more Faulkneresque rookie effort, The Orchard Keeper.

I really enjoyed this one—grim, brooding, spectral atmosphere, replete with three harrowing strangers, seeping violence, who dog the steps of the fraternal half of our brother-sister protagonists. The book begins with sin, and this particular stain won't wash out, regardless of how far the brother, Culla, journeys through unnamed Appalachia in an attempt to scrub it.

ISBN 13: 9780330314923

Towards the end, when the brother sits down for a distinctly un comfortable parley with the trio who have been pouring blood into his tracks as a macabre spoor, the stage is set for the understanding that he has reached the darkest corner of his own realization of hell. And what of the tinker , that peripatetic figure of gritty creases and scrub bristles who barters with those for whom he will serve as accomplice, witness, shriver and judge? This is southern gothic done very well.

McCarthy's vision of early America is the stuff of dreams and nightmares, populated with itinerant strangers and alternately hostile and accommodating locals. Not of the same caliber as Blood Meridian , but close. Who were those three men?

Outer Dark | Robin Allender

I am sure that view spoiler [I have no idea! With the exception of Suttree I have not disliked any of those books and I even gave Suttree two stars It Was OK because of the stunning language that turned up regularly. So Outer Dark was a special McCarthy experience for me.

I could actually follow the story: sister has baby; brother abandons baby; s Who were those three men? I could actually follow the story: sister has baby; brother abandons baby; sister goes in search for baby; brother goes in search of sister. Then it ends.

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Classics Review: Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy

There is more to this than a story but I decided just to enjoy the story and not try to figure out the meaning. Other GR reviews will have to take over from me on that aspect. McCarthy give spellcheck fits. It was a very old cabin and the ceiling of the room he stood in was little higher than his head, the unhewn beams smoked a foggy and depthless black and trellised with cobwebbing of the same color.

The floor was buckled and the walls seemed tottering and he could see nothing plane or plumb anywhere. There was a small window mortised crookedly into the logs of one wall, the sash being with leather hinges. That and the long clayless chinks among the logs let in the waning light of this day and wind crossed the room with the steady cool pull of running water. There was a claymortared fireplace of flatless and illfitted fieldstone which bulged outward in the room with incipient collapse, a wagon spring for lintel, the hearth of poured mud hard and polished as stone.

A serpentine poker. Two wood bedsteads with tickings of husks and a half-bed with a mattress on which lay curled a dead cat leering with eyeless grimace, a caved and maggoty shape that gave off a faint dry putrescence above the reek of aged smoke. He took hold of the mattress and pulled it from the bed and dragged it to the door, fighting it through the narrow opening and outside and long bright red beetles coming constantly from beneath the cat to scatter in radial symmetry outward and drop audibly to the floor.

He threw the mattress in the yard and went back in. A partitioned meal bin with sifter and a hard dry crust of meal adhering to the wood, the meal impregnated with worms whose shed husks littered the floor of the bin among micedroppings and dead beetles. A solid butternut safe in which languished some cheap white crockery, chipped and handleshorn coffeecups, plates serrated about their perimeters as though bitten in maniacal hunger, a tin percolator in which an inverted salmoncan sat for a lid.

On the basis of the story, I am going to surprise all of you and give Outer Dark four stars. I just enjoyed the language and although much of it was grim, I was captivated by the writing.


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  • Sure, sometimes I did wonder what this or that meant but I just tried to re-immerse myself in the story. It is a good one. I am so happy that I finally found something by Cormac McCarthy to really like. But don't ask me about those three mean men. Jun 16, Jessaka rated it liked it Shelves: lyrical-prose. I read this in one day as it was that good.

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