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Outer Dark Paperback – June 29, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vintage will rerelease these previous novels from McCarthy to coincide with the paperback appearance of All The Pretty Horses : Outer Dark is a mysterious tale of an Appalachian family, while Child of God , also set in the hill country, tells of a violent ex-convict.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

To coincide with the paperback release of McCarthy's National Book Award winner, All the Pretty Horses ( LJ 5/15/92), Vintage is reissuing these two earlier novels. Relating the story of a mother's search for her lost child, Outer Dark was described by LJ 's reviewer as a "novel full of horror and pathos" ( LJ 9/15/68). Child of God tells an equally bleak story with characters that comprise a "sad human compost heap" ( LJ 1/15/74). For serious fiction collections.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More from Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is known for his profoundly dark fiction and masterful reflections on the nature of good and evil. Visit Amazon's Cormac McCarthy Page.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 29, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679728732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679728733
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island. He later went to Chicago, where he worked as an auto mechanic while writing his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. The Orchard Keeper was published by Random House in 1965; McCarthy's editor there was Albert Erskine, William Faulkner's long-time editor. Before publication, McCarthy received a traveling fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which he used to travel to Ireland. In 1966 he also received the Rockefeller Foundation Grant, with which he continued to tour Europe, settling on the island of Ibiza. Here, McCarthy completed revisions of his next novel, Outer Dark. In 1967, McCarthy returned to the United States, moving to Tennessee. Outer Dark was published by Random House in 1968, and McCarthy received the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1969. His next novel, Child of God, was published in 1973. From 1974 to 1975, McCarthy worked on the screenplay for a PBS film called The Gardener's Son, which premiered in 1977. A revised version of the screenplay was later published by Ecco Press. In the late 1970s, McCarthy moved to Texas, and in 1979 published his fourth novel, Suttree, a book that had occupied his writing life on and off for twenty years. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, and published his fifth novel, Blood Meridian, in 1985. All the Pretty Horses, the first volume of The Border Trilogy, was published by Knopf in 1992. It won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was later turned into a feature film. The Stonemason, a play that McCarthy had written in the mid-1970s and subsequently revised, was published by Ecco Press in 1994. Soon thereafter, Knopf released the second volume of The Border Trilogy, The Crossing; the third volume, Cities of the Plain, was published in 1998.McCarthy's next novel, No Country for Old Men was published in 2005. This was followed in 2006 by a novel in dramatic form, The Sunset Limited, originally performed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago and published in paperback by Vintage Books. McCarthy's most recent novel, The Road, was published in 2006 and won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
Cormac McCarthy shows himself decisively to be the author who later develops into the eminent American maestro of the mysterious metaphor in this early work Outer Dark. A writer known more for his ingenuity as a
wordsmith and perfection of metaphor than for complicated plots or rich characterization, McCarthy has crafted this early novel around a simple premise--simple but no less eerie for its simplicity. The story follows an orphaned brother and sister aged around 20 years who spawn a child between them which the brother steals and leaves for dead in the nearby Appalachian forest--telling his sister that the baby died. A traveling salesman finds the child in the forest and takes the baby with him. The sister catches her brother in his lie and sets out across the surrounding towns and countryside in search of the baby for the next year or so. The brother likewise sets out in search of work and his sister. Their brief but spooky adventures in search of the baby and each
other comprise the remainder of the book. By virtue of his craft, McCarthy slowly reveals the world through which the siblings search to be the very
landscape of a sort of living Hell dominated by horrible luck and a sub-Miltonic evil trinity. Readers who enjoyed Blood Meridian will not be let down; will perhaps even be more impressed by parts. This book actually contains a 5 page passage that is arguably richer than the best of Blood Meridian. Describing the brother running from the forest after leaving his child for
dead, McCarthy writes, "He did not come upon the river but upon the creek again. Or another creek. He followed it down, in full flight now, the trees beginning to close him in, malign and baleful shapes that reared like
enormous androids provoked at the alien insubstantiality of this flesh colliding among them."
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on November 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book serves as a perfect introduction to McCarthy's greatest works, particularly Blood Meridian and Suttree. In reading this relatively short work, one gains a sense of what it is like to step into a McCarthy landscape. For reading his works is more like entering some preternatural world than following your typical plot and glimpsing into depths of an individual character. Indeed, it is more like walking straight into some sort of warped medieval landscape, as a picture by Bosch or Breughel, than reading a narrative or following a plot line. One gradually finds one's self engulfed in a visionary realm with tentacles only thinly attached to a "realistic" one. And, as indicated by the title, this world is unremittingly bleak. And this work, like all McCarthy's best, leaves us pondering anew the same question: Why, for what purpose, is man thrown into this nightmare of a world? Or, as McCarthy puts it here, "He wondered where the blind man was going and did he know how the road ended. Someone should tell a blind man before setting him out that way."
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84 of 96 people found the following review helpful By J. Remington on May 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Cannibalism, incest, violence, shadows and morbidity are not images usually associated with the western genre. Cormac McCarthy combines these gothic horror elements with the "Tale of the Wandering Jew" to craft a novel that, while certainly a genre western in the classic sense (it is filled with outlaws, pioneers, gunfights, horses, etc.) manages to also defy catergorization.
This is not a novel for all readers. McCarthy is an aquired taste. The hope through regeneration and purgation is present but certainly takes a close reading to discover. I am not a fan of dark literature per se, but McCarthy posseses such a unique linguistic style, that he indeed weaves a magic tapestry around his narratives and seduces the reader. He also manages to breathe new life into a classic American genre by throwing a new spin at his audience.
Like the rest of McCarthy's novels, "Outer Dark" is on one hand extremely cinematic with its rich and dense imagery and yet completely unfilmable. In fact Jim Jarmasch's excellent but aquired taste "Dead Man" contains many scenes that could have been taken directly from "Outer Dark".
As with all westerns, McCarthy devotes a large portion of his storytelling to creating a vivid landscape. The natural world according to McCarthy is wide, expansive and filled with great dread and danger. The Wilderness is not a place for the meek- they do not get to inherit the earth according to McCarthy. His view is extremely Old Testement in that regard. The wild expanses of the undeveloped country is, in of itself a scourge angel where wickedness is to be purged.
"Outer Dark" is at times a difficult read. For those brave souls willing to take a chance on a risky work of art, I whole heartedly reccomend this unique novel.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By C. N. White on November 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Don't be put off by mediocre Matt Damon movie adaptations, Cormac McCarthy is one of America's greatest living authors, and without a doubt the most worthy successor to William Faulkner, his greatest influence. I prefer his earlier Appalachian novels (The Orchard Keeper, Child of God, and this one). Later in his career he moved out west with The Border Trilogy (All The Pretty Horses, Cities of the Plain, and The Crossing). Whichever you prefer, there is no doubt that McCarthy's beautiful, streaming prose masterfully depicts the horrors of the south and the west, and the evil in the hearts of men. In this novel, a young girl is impregnated by her brother, who then attempts to kidnap the baby, taking it out to the woods to dispose of it, all in the first few chapters. What follows are two epic journeys - those of each of the siblings, as they attempt to find the lost child. We follow them through their respective journeys, encountering both the mercy and evil that lie in the heart of man, ending in a bloody and unspeakable climax that will haunt you for days after finishing.
This is one of McCarthy's first novels, and as good as this novel is, he has gone on to hone his talent even further, becoming one of the true masters of 20th century American fiction. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Faulkner, and any of the authors he has influenced over the decades. Like his influences, McCarthy is not easy reading by any means, but also like them, reading him is a substantially rewarding experience.
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