Blood Meridian, Chapter Sixteen: “In the desert were drag marks.”

desert-background-with-cactusINTRODUCTION

Lost scouts, found scouts, wild bulls, and lots of drinking, this was another rowdy chapter.  It increasingly seems like all these men have a death wish, or at least a death indifference.  But the judge keeps smiling, and they keep on drinking and dancing.  One gets the distinct impression that things are about to get a lot uglier too.  We’ll see. Continue reading

Knock at night

dark front door at nightLast night I had a dream that I was at home, lying in bed, and everyone else was asleep, and it was completely dark.  Just as I was about to fall asleep, there was a loud, sharp, banging knock on the front door. [BANG, BANG, BANG].  It so startled me that it woke me up in reality.  And I woke up to a dark house, with everyone else asleep, very, very much like the dream setting I had just woken up from.  It seemed so real that I was not completely sure whether I had actually heard the banging or not.  I don’t know if I ever even opened my eyes.  I was still really tired. Continue reading

Test

Test Post.  Having some technical difficulties.  Again.  The main problem is with the comments.  I can still see them, and respond, but there is a problem on the display of the site itself.  Working on it.  Hang in there, if anyone is still out there.

Blood Meridian, Chapter Fifteen: “You think I’m afraid of him?”

High Desert PlainsA new contract, a lottery, an escape, a sacrifice.  Oh, and the ogdoad (i.e. a group or set of eight) [shiver].  The chapter heading is rich with the promise of big, wild events to come (note: these chapter headings are increasingly becoming one of my favorite parts of Blood Meridian) .  Glanton’s group leaves Ures rather quietly, just three days after arriving. (p. 204).  They have a new contract for Apache scalps signed by the governor of Sonora.  Carroll and Sanford, the newest members of the gang, and never really a part of it, decide that they have had enough, and “defect.” (Id.).  But the group gains a new member, a boy named Sloat, left sick to die by a gold train passing through weeks earlier.  Apparently there is a commodore with the same last name, and there is a funny exchange between Glanton and the boy about whether they are related.  Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter Fourteen: “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.”

quicksilver burrosINTRODUCTION

There are three major events in this chapter: (1) the group’s visit to the small stone town of Jesús María; (2) the group’s visit to Ures, the capital of the state of Sonora (curious, I looked on a map, and Jesús María is about 1570 kilometers, or (by my rough guesstimation) approximately 981 miles away, through hard, mountainous territory); and (3) a really, really bad day to be a mule or a muleteer in between.  At the end of Chapter 13, Glanton’s gang has killed and scalped Mexican soldiers, burned their uniforms, buried their bodies, and turned the scalps in for bounty.  There is a very vivid image of the group re-entering the city “haggard and filthy and reeking with the blood of the citizenry for whose protection they had contracted.” (p. 185).  Perhaps not surprisingly, they leave the City of Chihuahua in somewhat of a hurry, going north as if headed for El Paso.  But before they are even out of sight, they turn west “toward the red demise of that day.” (Id.).  There are repeated inferences that the group is “cursed.”  Cursed or no, they are certainly a curse to everyone they encounter.

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Blood Meridian, Chapter Twelve, Part II: “There’s enough to go around.”

red lake disasterThe indian slaughter chapters are the most gruesome, shocking, and unforgettable.  They are also some of the most vivid and beautifully, if terrifyingly, written.  Chapter 12 continues as Glanton’s band has found the Gileños and they are preparing for attack at first light.  Glanton gives a rousing speech of sorts: “When we ride in it’s ever man to his own. Dont leave a dog alive if you can help it.” (p. 155).  Every man for himself?  Glanton will show just how true this is before the encounter is over.  “How many is there, John?” one man asks.  “There’s enough to go around,” answers the judge.  Indeed.
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Blood Meridian, Chapter Twelve, Part I: “[F]or what could be said to occur unobserved?”

night desert moonThis chapter begins with the band of scalp-hunters traveling stealthily, only by night, and going to great lengths to cover any tracks (using clay to cover any indication of nail marks in their horses’ hooves, “bur[ying] their stool like cats,” even spitting their tobacco into pouches).  It is unclear whether this is purely done because they do not want their quarry (here, the Gileños) to know they are coming, or because they fear someone (something?) tracking them.  It almost seems like the behavior of the hunted, more than the hunters.  Everyone seems to be haunted in this country. Continue reading

Writing What You Want

I read yesterday, and have read several places recently, that one of the key universal characteristics of a good and happy author is that they never write anything they don’t want to.  This might seem obvious, even to the point of being silly, but I still like it.  In a sense, I write for work, and some of that is admittedly not the most riveting.  But in my extra-curricular efforts, I sometimes do get bogged down writing the story I feel I should write or a story that I think others would like.  Bollocks!  What is the point in that?  I think it was Gillian Flynn who said that she wrote the books she wished existed but no one else had written.  Maybe it was Ann Patchett.  Or someone else entirely.  But I like the concept.  I’m going to do that too.  Watch out!

 

Reading Hard Stuff

sleepersHaving just finished Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra, I was eager to see what others thought of the book.  I discovered an interesting phenomenon.  Some people enjoyed the book but gave it a low rating because of the dark and disturbing subject matter.  Others did not enjoy the writing, but gave it high marks because of the dark and disturbing subject matter, the thinking being that if it’s a true story and it makes you uncomfortable, it has to be “good.”  I think I fall somewhere in the middle.

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