Child of God, Cormac McCarthy

“I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.” -Kafka

I woke up this morning feeling like I couldn’t leave my bed – like there was no reason to get up and exist and be among people. Lately, most of the things in my life have been wonderful, so there’s not really a reason for sudden-onset depression. So why the sadness?

Cormac McCarthy.

Child of God will bring you to your knees. I have never had such a visceral, overwhelming reaction to a book. McCarthy brings you close to the worst of humanity and makes you question whether we make each other that way. Is society to blame? Is it my fault if someone I ignored one day goes on a shooting spree? How does it all fit together? And, in true Cormac McCarthy fashion, everything is styled beautifully (perfectly, in fact), in minute, horrifying detail.

I don’t know if I can honestly recommend this. I’m not sure if I’m happy I read it. It is good that I did, because we should read things that break us, but I can’t shake this depressive state. That’s what McCarthy intended. I know it is.

Fellow readers: self care is important.

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