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Child of God (Vintage International) by [McCarthy, Cormac]
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Child of God (Vintage International) Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 258 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Scuttling down the mountain with the thing on his back he looked like a man beset by some ghast succubus, the dead girl riding him with legs bowed akimbo like a monstrous frog." Child of God must be the most sympathetic portrayal of necrophilia in all of literature. The hero, Lester Ballard, is expelled from his human family and ends up living in underground caves, which he peoples with his trophies: giant stuffed animals won in carnival shooting galleries and the decomposing corpses of his victims. Cormac McCarthy's much-admired prose is suspenseful, rich with detail, and yet restrained, even delicate, in its images of Lester's activities. So tightly focused is the story on this one "child of God" that it resembles a myth, or parable. "You could say that he's sustained by his fellow men, like you.... A race that gives suck to the maimed and the crazed, that wants their wrong blood in its history and will have it."

From the Inside Flap

In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard--a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape--haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail. While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3167 KB
  • Print Length: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 11, 2010)
  • Publication Date: August 11, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XT60I6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,608 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on December 7, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cormac McCarthy is one of the most accessible of modern authors. This in no way diminishes his accomplishments, as he is adept at so many facets of the writer's art. His prose blends perfectly the spare and the lyrical. His pacing is flawless. The reader is swept up into his cadences, secure in the knowledge that he/she will be expertly guided through the thickets and brambles to the clearing ahead, also assured that there would be no needless detours along the way. We are never overburdened with needless detail. Characters are believable and delineated concretely. The reader's senses are awakened to sensory impressions that are visceral. We "remember" what he describes.
<Child of God> is a great example of this master storyteller's art. It is a novel without any hint at artifice. It can be read by virtually anyone. What distinguishes it from equally "accessible" works is that it can be read on so many levels. In other words, it is a work that naturally has broad appeal. It will appeal to those who enjoy reading about disturbed murderers and psychopaths. On the other hand it will hold enormous interest to readers who are thoroughly familiar with the Southern Gothic fiction of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. Not to denigrate McCarthy, but on the surface, this work might even be called "Faulkner Lite.
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Format: Paperback
No one finishes Child of God with an indifferent impression. Usually I'm sad to finish a good book, but I was happy when this one was over. Child of God is not a modern day morality tale but a complex book that produces a healthy confusion of pleasure and disquietude. The pleasure is derived from the beautiful language, language especially effective when used to describe a character. It's the subject matter which made my mind uncomfortable. The details are too real, the subject too macabre for a moral human to enjoy. At times Lester Ballard seems closer to the "sympathetic apes" in the story than to a man with a conscience. The first sentence and last twenty pages alone are worth the purchase price of the book; what comes in between will race your pulse and curdle your stomach. Don't read this on a camping trip in the woods, but read it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The travails of a homeless, retarded necrophiliac killer roaming the hills of Kentucky. It sounds like a joke but somehow, it's not. (Though, if I were John Waters, I'd option it immediately.) Not only do you take this ghoul seriously, once you're halfway through the book, you realize you're on his side. Without psychologizing, or even getting into the protagonist's completely non-reflective head, McCarthy makes us understand him; what he's doing makes total sense to him, given what he knows. He comes to seem merely an extreme version of all people - blind, cosmically and comically ignorant, doing what makes sense to us given what we know."
- Mary Gaitskill From The Salon**com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors, pg 156.

Mary Gaitskill has given the best description of this novel that I've read anywhere, going so far as to suggest that it almost seems jokey in description. I can roughly imagine what would happen to someone trying to pitch this idea to a publisher or a producer today. Almost.

I will say this with absolute certainty: this book is a MASTERPIECE. McCarthy is a master. He is a master of language most of all. He is a master of manipulation. He's given us a character nearly void of emotion and interior and yet we find ourselves choking on our own emotions.

Lester Ballard's existence in Child of God is spare, fragile. McCarthy's depiction of Lester's interior is even sparer - like bones bare of tissue and muscle - a skeleton of conjoined events void of excess flesh in both thought and description. Even the punctuation is spare.
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2 Comments 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
"Child of God" is the story of Lester Ballard, outcast, necrophiliac, and psychopath in the Tennessee mountains. I'm sure some people would find this subject matter repellent, but I think the book has just enough of a lyrical quality to keep it from being too distasteful. In the hands of a less talented writer, it could have degenerated into a silly Stephen King-type horror story. In about two hundred pages, Cormac McCarthy creates a powerful and vivid portrait of a twisted individual, one I don't think I'll ever forget. This book is a perfect companion piece to his earlier novel "Outer Dark." (Both of these books would make great movies.)
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