I wonder now whether my previous blogpost, Frontierland, was anything more than a reaction to the mind-waves of all those people going to see True Grit.
I've never read it. I do have a favorite Portis novel though, Masters of Atlantis, which I have mentioned here before.
Scheussler draws some original insights from a column by Allen Barra in The Daily Beast, Who Is the Best Western Novelist? Barra questions the standing of Cormac McCarthy and briefly discusses a number of other contenders for the title, such as Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970), Ron Hansen's Desperadoes (1979) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (1983), and Pete Dexter's Deadwood (1986). The list here would make a good start for a book display that would have appeal beyond fans of the Western genre.
Something about McCarthy has always put me off reading him. I think Barra has put his finger on it:
McCarthy's prose is so rich and gravid with metaphor that many have been willing to overlook his shortcomings and excesses. In McCarthy's West, no one knocks at the door of a lonely cabin in the wilderness to ask for a drink of water without getting a treatise on the meaning of life and death. Every other prostitute is named "Magdalena." (Has there ever been a creditable female character in any of his books?) Mexican pimps are as portentous as Death in a Bergman film. Characters you might think would be as inarticulate as the cast of Jersey Shore say things like "I came here as a heretic fleeing a prior life" (The Crossing) and "Your world totters on an unspoken labyrinth of questions" (Cities of the Plain).
...It's not difficult to see why Blood Meridian is such a hit with high falutin' critics like Bloom. Consider enigmatic passages like this: "For this will to deceive that is in things luminous may manifest itself likewise in retrospect and so by slight of some fixed part of a journey already accomplished may also post men to fraudulent destinies."
Looks as if somebody's been readin' The Portable Nietzsche by the camp fire.