Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review - Cities of the Plain

Cities of the Plain is the conclusion of the epic Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy, and if I thought he was an outstanding writer before reading this trilogy I now truly believe he is one of the greatest writers of recent times. This volume is by far the best of the three; it is both simple and absolutely profound in its simplicity to a degree that far outshines the previous two novels.

This book takes the characters from the first two books and entwines their lives together, which is something I had figured out almost as soon as I started the second book but is also something I was really looking forward to. This particular volume seems to be more dialogue-centered and less dependent on terrain and landscape as a character, which is also good as it really lets McCarthy's dialogue take off and when it takes off, it really freaking takes off. All the philosophical banter, monologues and stream-of-consciousness narration are at their peak here and I'd probably say that this is the peak of McCarthy's writing that I've yet read.

Without being cliche or cheesy, McCarthy really manages to bring out authentic emotion through his writing, and it's made all the more realistic because of it's simplicity. There's no fluff or filler when it comes to the emotion, it's all raw and out in the open. The same goes for the level of violence; as per his usual style it's brief and bloody and realistic. I doubt anyone but McCarthy could pull off such stark simplicity and still convey the deep and real feelings his characters have.

There's not a whole lot more to say about this book, as much as I loved it. It keeps the same style and pace as the other two, so if you've read them you know what to expect in terms of technical style. To sum it up, this is a brilliant conclusion to a brilliant trilogy. From the very first page to the very last page Cities of the Plain bristles with deep thoughts, blunt feelings and brutal violence. Cormac McCarthy is at his peak here, and this profound novel has cemented his place in my mind as one of the best writers of our time.

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