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Cormac McCarthy, Author of “The Road” & “Blood Meridian,” Dead at 89

McCarthy thought that if the book didn't deal staunchly with matters of life and death, it was best left unwritten

American author Cormac McCarthy, who was known for his dark and often macabre novels, died on June 13th at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 89.

McCarthy was one of America’s most formidable and talented authors. He began his career in Tennessee, writing novels primarily about Appalachia. He moved to El Paso in 1976, where, thanks to funding from the MacArthur Foundation, he wrote Blood Meridian, a ruthless tale of vagabond outlaws wandering Texas and Mexico on scalping expeditions. Many critics find this to be his best work.

McCarthy went on to write The Road, a post-apocalyptic novel published in 2006, which he dedicated to his son, John. The Road tells the story of a father and his only son wandering the wasteland of a ruined America, trying to survive the darkest elements of human nature.

The late author was an intensely lyrical and thoughtful novelist, exploring the dark aspects of humanity and the nature of consciousness, free will, sin, and God. His two latest novels, The Passenger and Stella Maris, appeared last fall, and include the best of McCarthy’s vivid lyricism and examination of human mortality.

If you are interested in reading McCarthy, I would recommend beginning with The Road. Fair warning: his writing isn’t for everyone. His books are often grotesque and brutal, although poetically rendered and with frequent flashes of almost transcendent beauty. McCarthy thought that if the book didn’t deal staunchly with matters of life and death, it was best left unwritten. But should you endeavor to venture into this celebrated author’s deep well of work, begin there, and eventually, find your way to his two most recent books. They are a fine finale to a remarkable career from one of the most impressive writers of our time.

Peter Biles

Writer and Editor, Center for Science & Culture
Peter Biles graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He is the author of Hillbilly Hymn and Keep and Other Stories and has also written stories and essays for a variety of publications. He was born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma and is the Writer and Editor for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.

Cormac McCarthy, Author of “The Road” & “Blood Meridian,” Dead at 89