Study Guide

Blood Meridian Writing Style

By Cormac McCarthy

Writing Style

Dense and Poetic

One look at McCarthy's writing and you'll know what we mean by "Dense and Poetic":

On the day following they crossed the malpais afoot, leading the horses upon a lakebed of lava all cracked and reddish black like a pan of dried blood, threading those badlands of dark amber glass like the remnants of some dim legion scrabbling up out of a land accursed, shouldering the little cart over the rifts and ledges, the idiot clinging to the bars and calling hoarsely after the sun like some queer unruly god abducted from a race of degenerates. (17.49)

Okay… now who's excited to deal with three hundred more pages of writing like this? Seriously though, McCarthy's writing presents us with one of the great dilemmas of reading. On the one hand, we can appreciate that this passage is beautiful. On the other hand, it's hard for the brain to process all of the incredible details that are packed into it. The question then becomes: do you want to step up and do the work of unpacking McCarthy's language or do you want to turn on the TV and watch something that's easier on your brain? Well, if you're reading this guide, you're probably the kind of person who likes a good challenge. You go, Shmoopsters.

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