This is a post in my 50 Nifty series, in which I’m reading through 50 books that embody each of the 50 United States. Find out why I’m doing this and which books I’m reading when (so you can read along) by checking out my first 50Nifty post, or else browse all 50Nifty posts by clicking here!
Child of God, Cormac McCarthy
Confession: I completely forgot about blogging this week until just a couple of hours ago. After 10 months of doing it every week, I’m surprised at myself, although I must admit that I’m pretty ready to be done with this part of the project. 🙂 More about my thoughts on that later, though. For now, it’s on to McCarthy’s Child of God.
This chilling tale of the aftermath of Lester Ballard’s false accusation and unjust imprisonment was both shudder-inducing and thought-provoking. As Ballard roams the hills of Tennessee after his release from jail, the reader gets glimpses into his increasingly addled brain. It’s a short book but still manages to get under your skin, and while I was horrified by many of Ballard’s actions, I was also unexpectedly touched with pity and compassion for the character, for whom I believed—had circumstances been different—life might have turned out much better. As always, McCarthy’s writing is almost tactile in its descriptiveness, adding an extra grotesque aspect to the disturbing scenes and literally making me shudder as I recall them.
It’s a wonderful choice for the 50Nifty list, as all of the action takes place in the hills and caves of Tennessee. The story covers several seasons, as well, and speaks to the weather and landscape changes during those seasons. This is not a book I’d recommend to my mom (or my mother-in-law necessarily, although I bet she’s reading it as we speak) but I would to anyone interested in a well-written dark psychological thriller. And then I’d want to talk to them about it.