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Quotable: Cormac McCarthy

Here is a passage from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian—it’s a sentence, actually, a long, wonderfully crafted sentence, whose beauty highlights the very ugliness of what is about to happen when a group of Indians catches up with a band of American scalp hunters:

A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained weddingveil and some in headgear of cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or saber done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses’ ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse’s whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen’s faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools.

I heard recently that a film adaptation of the novel is in the works. I’ve always thought this book was unfilmable, but perhaps Todd Field (who has directed good adaptations of In the Bedroom and Little Children) is up to the task.

After The Fest

Thank you to all those who came to my L.A. Times Festival of Books panel this weekend. I hope you all had as much fun as I did. And thanks especially to Maret Orliss, Vanessa Curwen, and Ann Binney for organizing this huge festival–I have no idea how they do it every year! (Above is a picture of me with a few friends who were also in attendance.)

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Next weekend, the Los Angeles Times will hold its annual Festival of Books. I’ve had the pleasure of participating a few times, and it’s always been loads of fun. This year, I’ll be moderating a panel on Sunday, with André Aciman, Assaf Gavron, and Amy Wilentz. Here are the details:

April 25, 2010
10:30 AM
Fiction: Writing the Personal, Writing the Political
André Aciman, Assaf Gavron, and Amy Wilentz, moderated by Laila Lalami
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, California

It’s a free event, but you do need tickets to get in, so please go here for details. In yet another sign of the apocalypse, I’ve joined Twitter, so you can follow me there if you’re really interested in occasional, 140-character accounts of what I’m reading, what I’m writing, where I’m going, and everything else in between.


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