Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God

Hello, readers.

The sky has been falling for the past couple of days and I’ve got to say, I don’t hate it. Rain always makes me feel happy and cozy. Loved even. Like the world is wrapping me up in a chilly, wet embrace. That sounds disgusting and mildly terrifying, but it’s actually a really nice feeling.

child_of_god-largeTennessee beckons with Bluesy melodies. And necrophiles. Maybe not Tennessee, but Child of God certainly does. This was my first book by Cormac McCarthy and it left me feeling really peculiar. You follow Lester Ballard as he unravels, slowly losing touch if not with reality, then definitely with society. He loses his house, burns down the place he was squatting in. Eventually he moves into a cave, full of passageways and holes where he can stash the bodies of those he kills. After everyone find out he’s the one murdering people and force him to show them where the bodies are, he spends 3 days stuck in a hole, trying to dig his way out. Finally he dies in a hospital, alone. You get the sense he’d always been alone.

It’s the kind of book where you know things are happening, but you don’t quite feel like you’re moving. Then it’s all over and you’re left with a sort of restlessness, a kind of limbo experience. Honestly, it’s one of those feelings I hate in life, a kind of uncomfortable uncertainty that I have to learn to grapple with. It makes me just as uncomfortable in books, maybe even more because I can feel it building slowly, see it happening if you will.

Part of that unstable feeling comes from the fact that I kind of sympathize with Lester. I’m more affected by the touches of humanity than by the horrible things that happen in the novel. He kills people, fucks their dead bodies and I’m over here wanting to console him when he cries. Feeling sad for him because he lost his stuffed toys. I think even though he’s a despicable character, we’re meant to feel that bit of connection with him. We’re meant to see his loneliness and his pain. It humanizes where everything else he does removes him from what we consider regular human reactions and emotions.

I appreciate books like this that make me feel uncomfortable. They force you to sit in that feeling, to stay still while it speaks and moves around you. You can embrace the experience, actively engaging it or you can close the book and forget about it. I’m always glad when I choose to keep going. In the end I’m still uncomfortable, but the discomfort has become nuanced and infinitely more interesting.

It’s good to feel uncomfortable once in a while. You never know what might come of it. Until next time, readers!

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