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Cormac McCarthy 1933-2023

Wednesday, Jun 14, 2023 at 6:12pm

We were devastated to hear about the passing of one of the greatest American writers to ever do it, Cormac McCarthy. A novelist and stylist who pushed the English language to its limits and reworked and exploded the myth of the American West. The list of writers he inspired is limitless. We'll be talking about his oeuvre until the end of time. RIP to an absolute legend.

"The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door. He took off his hat and came slowly forward. The floorboards creaked under his boots. In his black suit he stood in the dark glass where the lilies leaned so palely from their waisted cutglass vase. Along the cold hallway behind him hung the portraits of forebears only dimly known to him all framed in glass and dimly lit above the narrow wainscotting. He looked down at the guttered candlestub. He pressed his thumbprint in the warm wax pooled on the oak veneer. Lastly he looked at the face so caved and drawn among the folds of funeral cloth, the yellowed moustache, the eyelids paper thin. That was not sleeping. That was not sleeping." - All the Pretty Horses

Where to Start with McCarthy?

There are really three good points of entry into his work. What most people consider his masterpiece, Blood Meridianis a brutal, mythic tale of violence in the American West in the 19th century. This novel traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving. Blood Meridian crystallizes a lot of McCarthy's style: the poetic, almost mythic feel, the long sentences, the apocalyptic descriptions of landscape. Though, the novel is extremely violent and isn't as accessible as the other books we'll recommend.

Another good starting point is All the Pretty Horses, an elegaic quasi-romance about a cowboy, John Grady Cole, and the rancher's daughter he meets in Mexico. This novel, the first in a loose trilogy called "The Border Trilogy" is beautifully, sensitively written, as evidenced by the quote from above. It's also a gripping recontextualization of what it means to be a cowboy. Here, McCarthy's prose gets more accessible, ever slightly more spare as he worries less about apocalyptic imagery and more about the feeling of ranching.

Finally, No Country for Old Men is a terrific entry point into his work. A lean, mean crime thriller about a man who stumbles across a drug deal gone bad and the bag of money left behind. Thinking he's finally made it and escape from poverty, he goes on the run, only to be pursued by what is easily one of the most chilling villains ever written. This is accessible, possibly to a fault, judging by some critics. No Country for Old Men is short and sweet, but still carries the philosophy, the beautiful richness of thought which characterizes all of his work.

Any of these would be perfect to start with. McCarthy's books are life-changing and we will miss him dearly.

Categories: Staff Pick, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Publishing News, Literature, Author Focus

The NYT's 100 Notable Books of 2016

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016 at 4:59pm

The New York Times has published their annual list of "100 Notable Books" for 2016.

The list, which includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, is curated by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. It features titles that have been reviewed by The NYT since December 2015, with links to the full review of each title. 

Read the list here.

You can also explore The NYT's list of "Notable Children's Books" of 2016.

Most of the titles are stocked regularly in our bookstores, and those not currently in stock can almost certainly be ordered. You can search individual titles here on our website to see a live stock-check, or you can contact your nearest McNally Robinson bookstore to inquire about stock or ordering.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Publishing News, Book Lists

Governor General's Award Winners 2016 Announced

Friday, Oct 28, 2016 at 3:31pm

The 2016 Governor General's Awards released its list of winners on October 25. Each individual author will take home a prize of $25,000, as well as invaluable literary exposure on both a national and international scale.

The winners in each category are as follows:

For the official list of 2016 winners and finalists, click here.

Categories: Awards, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Publishing News, Book Lists, Literature

2016 Man Booker Prize Awarded to Paul Beatty

Friday, Oct 28, 2016 at 2:35pm

After much deliberation, Paul Beatty has been chosen as the winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Sellout. The £50,000 ($87,000 CAN) prize is awarded annually to the best novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom. Previously restricted to authors hailing from the UK and the Commonwealth, the prize opened its doors to all English-language authors in 2014. This is the first time that the prize has been given to an American writer.

The Sellout is a darkly comical novel about race relations in America. It follows the story of the young narrator, Bonbon, who stirs up controversy in his Californian town by setting out to reintroduce slavery and segregation to his high school. The book, which has been described as a "blistering satire" by the New York Times, uses Beatty's unique flavour of humour to take an unflinchingly honest look at racial prejudices and stereotypes.

54-year-old Beatty is the author of three other novels: Slumberland, Tuff, and The Whiteboy Shuffle. He has also published two books of poetry, and is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He currently lives in New York City.

Categories: Awards, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Publishing News, Literature

Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction 2016: Finalists

Friday, Sep 30, 2016 at 5:32pm

The Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction announced its list of five finalists this past week. This award recognizes the unique voices of nonfiction authors of many genres, including essays, history, biographies, memoirs, journalistic work, and social and political commentaries.

The list of 2016 finalists includes:

The lucky individual who nabs first place will receive $60,000, and each of the other finalists will be awarded $5,000. The winning writer will be announced on November 2 at the Writers' Trust Awards in Toronto.

Categories: Awards, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Publishing News, Book Lists
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