Recent reading Cormac McCarthy – The Sunset Limited

A novel, in dramatic form is how the publisher’s describe this 2006 two header.  It’s a play right.

It’s also (another) polemic on religion and puts up a white middle class and suicidal university professor against a black ex junkie and con who has only just saved the disillusioned Prof from death on the tracks at a commuter train station just as The Sunset Limited (get it?) comes thundering through at 80 mph.

The pair repair to Black’s flat and debate the meaning of life.

Is Black God’s angel?  We never get to know.

White is representative of the aetheistic world.  Not amoral in any way and not judged particularly but striking in his dismissal of religion.

McCarthy’s recent books delve deep into spiritual territory and make one feel that underneath it all he could be a fundamentalist christian, but in fact, in a  recent interview in the Washington Post he spills the beans on his religious leanings (he was brought up an Irish Catholic but says religion was not a huge part of his childhood).

“I have a great sympathy for the spiritual view of life, and I think that it’s meaningful. But am I a spiritual person? I would like to be. Not that I am thinking about some afterlife that I want to go to, but just in terms of being a better person. I have friends at the Institute. They’re just really bright guys who do really difficult work solving difficult problems, who say, “It’s really more important to be good than it is to be smart.” And I agree it is more important to be good than it is to be smart. That is all I can offer you.”

So no clues there as to why there is such a sustained religious undercurrent to his work; perhaps it’s an age thing (McCarthy would have been 70 when he wrote this) and No Country for Old men (another book about avenging angels – The devil) and The Road (which could not be more nihilistic or meaning of life/spirituality if it tried.) were also written in his 70’s.

But is it any good?

Thought provoking?  To a point.

Subtle?  Nope.

Must read?  Indeed not.  But it’ll pass a couple of hours better than some of the shit that gets to print.


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