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|"They followed a stone wall past the remains of an orchard. The trees in their ordered rows gnarled and black and the fallen limbs thick on the ground." Cormac McCarthy, The Road (First Vintage International Edition 2006)|
[G]azing up at the dark sky . . . with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.
|A view of Mount Jefferson from the south as shown on a postcard printed by Ray Drug Company, West Jefferson, circa 1937. At the time, Mount Jefferson was known as Negro Mountain.|
|A Day in Pompeii|
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air.
|Wilmington, NC circa 1863|
|Cell-phone picture taken in the "L" section of Old Books on Front St.'s fiction section. This picture is almost to scale. Most aisles are not wide enough to pitch a cat through sideways.|
The boy lay with his head in the man's lap. After a while he said: They're going to kill those people, aren't they?
Why do they have to do that?
I dont know.
Are they going to eat them?
I dont know.
They're going to eat them, arent they?
And we couldnt help them because then they'd eat us too.
And that's why we couldnt help them.
They took the little stove with them and a couple of pans and he heated water and poured it into the tub and poured in water from the plastic jugs. It took a long time but he wanted it to be good and warm. When the tub was almost full the boy got undressed and stepped shivering into the water and sat. Scrawny and filthy and naked. Holding his shoulders. The only light was from the ring of blue teeth in the burner of the stove. What do you think? the man said.
Warm at last.
Warm at last?
Where did you get that?
I dont know.
Okay. Warm at last.
No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.
She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift. She would do it with a flake of obsidian. He'd taught her himself. . . . And she was right. There was no argument. The hundred nights they'd sat up debating the pros and cons of self destruction with the earnestness of philosophers chained to a madhouse wall.
In the morning the boy said nothing at all and when they were packed and ready to set out upon the road he turned and looked back at their campsite and he said: She's gone isn't she? And he said: Yes, she is.
|The portable typewriter used by Edward Estlin Cummings (1894-1962)|
Similarly, McCarthy sporadically and inconsistently employs a vocabulary of recondite terms that: (1) detract from the otherwise very simple, elegant story; and (2) are not always in the dictionary.
[Incidentally, I got into some trouble for my opinion on McCarthy's use of parsible with the friendly folks at The Official Website of the Cormac McCarthy Society in regard to this article and related comments I made in the forum section of the aforementioned C. M. Web site that some overzealous disciples of Mr. McCarthy were quick to perceive as unforgivably critical of their infallible literary hero. A gentleman with the handle peterfranz who had an obvious blind spot in regard to McCarthy's minimal shortcomings wrote this in response to my point that no one could possibly know what McCarthy meant by parsible because, quite simply, this is not a defined word in the English language: "Those readers, to whom this board by its very existence has a responsibility, are not helped by EK's post, which I would delete were I in a position to." I should note that peterfranz later backed off the censorship angle, but did suggest that I should "self-censor" and remove my critical comments myself notwithstanding the fact that I was entirely correct on this point. To his credit, a bona fide McCarthy scholar named Rick Wallach who was more or less kind to me and fair in his arguments conceded finally that parsible as it appears in The Road "could be a typo - but in McCarthy, how the hell do we know?" - Ed. 12 Oct 2010]
He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. . . . Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
|From Dogwood Hill, the Moon rises over the old gray shoulders of Mount Jefferson.|