By JAMES B. WYLER
Sorry I'm a day late for this conversation. Actually I'll be honest. I know one person who read the book, but I'll be surprised if many more of you did. But as long as I have a good time that's all that matters (the selfish top in me just typed).
I'll start out with this. I love Ridley Scott, but he needs to leave Blood Meridian alone. There is talk he'll make the film adaption of McCarthy's masterpiece and the book will be destroyed. Ridley himself admits to the problems of transferring the novel to screen.
"If you're going to do Blood Meridian you've got to go the whole nine yards into the blood bath, and there's no answer to the blood bath, that's part of the story, just the way it is and the way it was."
Calling the novel a blood bath is an understatement. Men use the ears of kills as prizes of worth, there isa feverish hunt for scalp and then there are the bodies of the dead. And more dead. And more. This is the western part of America Hollywood never got to telling with its iconic tales . Characters played by John Wayne and Gary Cooper would be jail house bitch meat in the world of the Judge and the Glanton Gang.
It is shaking up a genre that is so worn ready that makes Blood Meridian so essential. And any novel that has this line needs to be on your bookshelf:
Men's memories are uncertain and the past that was differs little from the past that was not."
Yes that line comes from the mouth of the Judge, Satan, or his best representative, on Earth; however, when applied to the western, a mode of story-telling that has been steeped in myth and lore, far removed from the actual West, shouldn't we listen to the devil?
Okay, I'm rambling so let's make this concrete with a few questions: 1) at the end of the novel when the Judge and the Kid go into the room, what happens?, 2) what do you make of the Judge dancing at the end and proclaiming his skills as a performer being matched by none, 3) the Kid and the priest. How to describe their relationship? What draws them to each other, other than daddy drama?, 4) is it wrong to see this as a comic novel? Yes it is seeped in death, yet there are out loud funny moments. My personal favorite is when black Jackson cuts the head off of one of his peers who decides that sitting around the fire is now segregated, 5) do we dismiss the Judge by seeing him as Satan as opposed to a real man who understands better than most the nature of humans? 6) is the Kid responsible for the destruction of the gang as the Judge suggests and if so, how?, and 7) what role does the physical landscape play in the plot the development of characters?
So let's talk. Leave your comments. answer the questions (or not). I'll do my best to respond to what is said. Blah, Blah.
And in case you are wondering, yes I have a book set for next month. The week-end of May 23, we'll talk about Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body. A world away from the Glanton Gang in one sense, but still dealing with those questions of our humanity. And for you queens who think the only thing you can do is read, eat, and live stuff that is gay, Winterson is a lesbian. Although she would remind us that is the least interesting thing about her.