Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blood Meridian ~ First Impressions

When I read the short description of the book on my reading list, I was originally taken back at the atrocity of scalping Indians for profit. However, what intrigued me about the book was the historical period in which it is set. Not only is it what I'm learning in U. S. History right now, but it declared that it would force me to rethink everything I know about the fabled "Wild West." Now, that is a fair claim to make, since many of the stories that parents tell my generation have been distorted to make them more "appropriate" for younger, more innocent minds. (For instance, the Grimm fairy tales). But nothing prepared me for what this book had in store for its readers. The bloodshed and the description of the most dirty happenings that could not be conceived from any normal mind have been fabricated into an account of what living along the western front was like. I won't go into detail here- in fact the only way I could would be to copy from the book- but I will say that this book is not for any poltroons.

An oddity within the book is that there are no quotation or contraction marks to be found, making figuring out who said what extremely difficult, although not impossible. Eventually, what will happen is I'll get so into the book it's obvious who is speaking, but when the book becomes choppy, it takes several readings to pull the information out of the text.

Now the characters are in an entirely different class of strange unto themselves. None of the characters backgrounds, thoughts, or emotions (other than some obvious anger) are clearly delivered to the reader. Even the main character, the Kid, is only described once and his background fills only half of a page. All that's left is the characters' actions, which speak loudly at times, and the descriptions of the settings, which are quite extent. For instance, the Kid is a decision maker, and his decisions often lead to his survival in the deadly, ever changing plane of the bloody west. The Kid's survival moves the story and leads the reader along the road from city to city. It's as if their is a camera floating a few feet behind the Kids' head with which we see the complete, desolate landscape that is Blood Meridian.

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