Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God: A Review

Don’t buy this book.

McCormac is enough of a genuis to make any tale fascinating, no matter how sordid, and that’s just what he’s done here.  He’s told the tale well, but the story is just too sordid.  I am not trying to suggest there is no redeeming value in it.  It is a powerful and haunting tale of depravity…but I do fear that that’s all it is.  So, as far as that goes, it’s interesting, but, when I can see the same thing by watching the news each night, I do wonder what the point is.

The story follows a Tennessee hillbilly named Ballard.  Ballard is mentally, socially, spiritually, and psychologically stunted.  Come to think of it, that may be too much of a compliment.  He’s a degenerate in pretty much every possible way.  His discovery of a dead body by the side of the road seems to send him spiraling into a murderous rampage of lust and debauchery that is nothing less than shocking.  Ballard’s tale is one of isolation, misery, and jarring amorality.  His demise is pitiful and well deserved.

The story left me feeling like I had just witnessed a parade of nihilism.  Unfortunately, I felt dirtied by the experience.

McCarthy is a great writer, but this tale is just too grotesque to be of any real and lasting redeeming value.


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