June 15, 2008
Easily one of the most violent books in mainstream literature, the most shocking aspect of the tale is its adherence to historical truth. It’s mind-blowing to consider that these things really happened, that there was an actual Glanton gang who terrorised northern Mexico and the south-west borderlands of the US, ruthlessly cutting swathes through the population. As it happened McCarthy took the framework for the book straight from the horse’s mouth, borrowing directly from gang member Samuel Chamberlain’s memoir My Confession: Recollections of a Rogue. In what can only be described as a prolonged bloodbath, McCarthy’s use of violence is visceral but authentic. Eye gouging, throat slicing, burning alive, it’s a reconstruction of a time when men kept the shrivelled hearts of the hanged as mementos, when churches lay in ruins, disabled people could be kept in cages and paraded for show and salvation was a form of cruel mockery. Darran Anderson revisits Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.