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Start by marking “Child of God” as Want to Read: 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. In October , Child of God found itself at the center of a teaching controversy at Jim Ned High School in. Inspire a love of reading with Prime Book Box for Kids Discover delightful children's books with Prime Book Box, a subscription that delivers new books every 1.

Child Of God Book

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Child of God tells the story of a social outcast, Lester Ballard, and his descent into madness and evil. The book opens with an auction being held for Lester's. And then there is Child of God, a disturbing novel with a fierce ambition. McCarthy does something nearly impossible in this book: he generates. Suspenseful, spare, a quick and compelling read, Child of God is at the same time McCarthy's most extreme challenge to the limits of propriety, perhaps.

Except for the fickleness of fate Lester might have remained a happily contented necrophiliac for the rest of the winter. Now summer would have brought on different issues. Homeless and womanless Lester decides to try and fix both those problems. In Indiana back in farmers started forming this secret society that would violently inflict justice on people who seemed to be beyond the law. As this movement spread South the organization took on some racial overtones and started disguising themselves similarly to the KKK.

Merchants who were buying up too much land and black men who had thoughts of becoming land owners were targeted in a time when poor white farmers felt they were losing everything. They were farmers not law enforcement officers. Lester escapes.

A gothic doll in illfit clothes, its carmine mouth floating detached and bright in the white landscape. Not different in an Einstein pondering the universe kind of way. More like two brain cells drifting around in his head that collide once in a while creating a spark kind of guy.

Once he has been banished from any center hold in the community he becomes feral, a man caught in a permanent state of flight or fight. He becomes dangerous and unhinged. The grotesque becomes as normal to him as white picket fences are to the rest of us. Cormac McCarthy Cormac McCarthy will always expose you to a form of human being that will make you uncomfortable.

You will twitch in your seat. You will check the doors and windows one more time before going to bed. You will start to make a more indepth analysis of your crazy cousin Larry.

You will reluctantly come away with a broader understanding of the spectrum of people making up humanity. You will question your own sanity and wonder if it is possible for you to ever be as crazy as Lester Ballard.

Just one person who could give him a bead to follow. I do ponder questions like that late at night when I wonder if I could be stable enough and patient enough to keep someone else sane. I would probably be too practical to put myself in the path of a psychopath. I also have read and reviewed Suttree by Cormac McCarthy If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http: View all 55 comments. Nov 19, s. The short novel chronicles the hellish descent of Lester Ballard into the maelstroms of human depravity, from simple onanistic voyeurism to murder and necrophilia.

To open a McCarthy novel is to step into a nightmarish wasteland of the soul built out of breathtaking bricks of penetrating prose. Through language that borders on biblical and flourishes effortlessly like tangled ivy on Greek pillars, McCarthy brings the reader into the dirty dregs of a small Tennessee town and makes them practically smell the damp soil and sweaty backs and gunpowder of the novel. Broken up into three parts, each unique in style and execution, McCarthy unfolds the story of Lester Ballard through the eyes and ears of the locals as well as his omniscient narration.

Each voice is a piece of the puzzle to understanding Ballard, fleshing him out by examining him from many angles and views while also constructing a penetrating look at those around him. Child of God is another impressive addition to the American mythology of darkness that McCarthy has built. The story of Lester Ballard is not for the squeamish as McCarthy illuminates his depravity without ever shielding the readers eyes from the disgusting sights.

It is what readers of McCarthy have come to expect; McCarthy is an expert in probing the depths of the human soul and rubbing in our faces all the darkest and most disturbing elements the imagination can find down there in the shadows we try to conceal and forget. Ballard does the unthinkable and inexcusable again and again, yet McCarthy does not create him as a flat, pure-evil character. He has much more in store for our souls to digest and wrestle with.

Chronicling his life, McCarthy depicts Ballard as a man alienated by his community, chased like a rat into hiding because of his differences and difficulties putting on a normal persona in the world. Ostracized, isolated and with no one to turn to, Ballard has little choice but to give in to his alarmingly abominable ways. Occasionally he is called out of the darkness, some old shed self that came yet from time to time in the name of sanity, a hand to gentle him back from the rim of his disastrous wrath However, being so withdrawn and removed from society, the voice of civilized reason is most often lost in the wilderness of wickedness.

His criminal acts seem a way he has found to give voice to a sense of impotence and alienation he has felt all his life.

You're just a crazy thing, ' a girl says to him. It is easy to just consider him a 'thing', a being removed from us so that we can despise and scorn him without inner-remorse. It keeps us safe from identifying with him, from having to understand him or see life through his eyes. But is he just a 'thing', or is he still a man?

Those of the religious faith are taught to forgive and love thy brothers and sisters, as we are all cut from the same cloth. Ballard too. Religious or not, this is a quandary that tests our moral judgment and reminds us that all of us are capable of evil.

And, despite the grim context, this is actually quite a darkly comical novel at times. Ballard gets swindled trying to sell watches, bootleggers are too drunk to find their own hiding places, and other sorts of gross yet somehow humorous elements keep the book from being too flatly dark. It is short as to not begrudge the reader with too much darkness and entertaining and engaging enough so that most can finish it in a sitting or two. This is a bleak novel with little to nothing in the way of redemption within the book.

However, this is because the redemption rests within the reader; can we look into the heart of another man and disregard him as pure evil? Is everything black or white or can we feel pity even for those who are the epitome of depravity. Lester Ballard is chased from society, eventually having to hide in caves like a wild beast or a descent into hell, and we must question if he is just an evil man or a product of his circumstances.

I was glad to have read this book on a bright sunny day beside a case of fine IPAs, which lasted the duration of reading this book, as the novel left me feeling cold and hard and hollow on the inside. Child of God might be my least favorite of McCarthy's novels Suttree toping my list , but it still packs a wallop of a punch. Bleak and brutal, yet darkly funny, this book is not for everyone. But if you are willing to stare into the eyes of darkness and voyage into the deepest recesses of the human heart, McCarthy is the ideal tour guide.

View all 30 comments. Oct 18, Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing Shelves: And faithful! Really great performance by Scott Haze as Lester. You probably shouldn't watch it while you eat your tea nor should you be watching it with any elderly relatives but if you know what the story is about you probably would not do that. Unless you want to kill them off with s film-of-the-book update: Unless you want to kill them off with shock and horror. This time round I spotted that Child of God starts just like Omensetter's Luck , with a rural auction.

Kind of a really useless fact. And now the actual review. This was a re-read, my first for years, and once again I loved Cormac's outrageous, daring style. I gave it five stars all those years ago and I give it five now. I felt again that I was in the presence of a writer who could dip all the other American writers in his Weetabix and mush em all together and eat em up and go for another bowl of em.

This guy is the real deal. Well allright! So how come I didn't like any other CMcC book if he's such a wow? Good question, you know. Beautiful beautiful writing completely squandered on an endurance-test Western with zero story and zero character. So I failed there. Not so much. So I think Cormac and me had a parting of the ways.

But if I recall right, before we bade farewell and he took the road west, we shook hands cordially. It felt cordial, that is, although his face betrayed no expression.

Lester Ballard, our grisly necrophile protagonist, has quite a bit of the old Ed Gein about him. Which if so would make him the fourth fictional incarnation of Ed, so inspirational was he, and that is leaving aside the biopic about him, which is called "Ed Gein". There was Hitchcock's Psycho, there was ol' Leatherface in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was ever a film so aptly titled - it was in Texas, there was a massacre, it was done with a chainsaw and there was the regrettable Buffalo Bill in "The Silence of the Tiny Little Baa-Lambs" with his human skin dresses.

Now Barbara Gowdy, in her arresting story "We So Seldom Look On Love", makes a case that there are indeed true necrophiles, people that only love people if they're dead. Imagine the fate of a necrophile who's looking for commitment! I guess the only solution there would be taxidermy.

An Underappreciated and Unrelenting Novel From An American Master

But I argue that the great majority of necrophiles wind up with the dead through poor lifestyle choice and low self esteem. They are just lonely. But in a special way. You and me, we may have been through lonely times, you may still be going through those times, and I only wish I could reach my hand through this screen and give your shoulder a little squeeze, wouldn't that be nice, hmm, maybe it wouldn't, can you imagine if you booted up your computer and all these arms came out, wiggling around?

Doesn't bear thinking about - I digress - this loneliness that we have suffered was still on the planet Earth, it was a recognisable, common emotion. We could have been rescued at any time. These necrophiles though, the loneliness of these guys is a cold cold moon of Pluto. They are off the scale of ordinary inabilities to communicate, to invite affection, they are the antimatter of human dalliance. They make autists look like quiz-show comperes.

The only date they've been on is where they shoot em in the back of the head and lug em home. That's a date.

Of sorts. Now Lester Ballard, if he could only of met a nice girl some time in his early life and could of settled down somewhat, it may have been the making of him. But he never met the right gal. And he took the wrong turn in life. The way it goes sometimes. View all 20 comments.

Questa e le due immagini che seguono sono prese dal film omonimo scritto, diretto e co-interpretato da James Franco nel , mai uscito in Italia, e mai uscito in un sacco di altri paesi: Figli di dio fa pensare a Dostoewskij, ovvio, ma anche tanto a Jim Thompson: McCarthy non risparmia nulla, non mitiga, non acquerella: View all 4 comments.

Great day in the morning!

Child of God

He is making me homesick! Just the speech patterns which McCarthy nails. It reminded me of River's Edge although the movie seems mild by comparison. Maybe, I'm just grateful that it used an inflatable doll. View 2 comments. Nov 11, Lawyer rated it it was amazing Shelves: Child of God: Saxon and Celtic bloods.

A child of God much like yourself perhaps. The setting is Sevier County, Tennessee, in the s. Our protagonist is twenty-seven. He is an orphan. His life between the suicide of his father and the loss of his home is an unanswered question. We are dropped into his story in medias res Child of God: We are dropped into his story in medias res in the finest Faulkner style. As the story opens, the small, unclean, unshaven man watches his home place go on the auction block. I have a long and uncomfortable history with Cormac McCarthy.

He has repeatedly held me breathless with his novels full of violence and human degradation. But he has said that these are usual conditions of life. I cannot argue with him. I am constantly reminded of the words of John Steinbeck from East of Eden: I had read three of what I call his "Southern Quartet.

Call it taking a hiatus. Or, call it a necessary breather, particularly after being wrung by the neck by Outer Dark.

It took the novel being selected for a group read by members of "On the Southern Literary Trail" to cause me to begin to turn the pages.

I began last night. It was after I turned the last around 3: McCarthy had done it again. I was drained. Sleep refused to come to me. I do not know when I drifted off to sleep. How can one like a novel about a murderer who exercises his lust on his victims? It is a testament to the craft of McCarthy. He unflinchingly portrays the life and tragedy of Lester Ballard.

However, McCarthy does not ask forgiveness for him. In the final analysis, we confront the question,"Is man the product of nature or nurture? Nor should that assertion be taken as an excuse for the behavior of McCarthy's Lester Ballard. Disturbing, yes. However, it is Child of God that claims that spot on the shelf for me.


How many times have you walked past a stranger and not acknowledged their presence? Or, how many times have you made assumptions about a person based on their appearance, small, uncleaned, unshaven?

An old lead-colored man standing next to me at the checkout breathed so heavily I had to step back a few steps. Even after his bags were packed he still stood, breathing hard and hawking into his hand. The feeble, the lame, I could hardly look at them: Jesus must have been a saint, I said to myself, looking for my lost car in the parking lot later, stumbling among the people who would have been lowered into rooms by ropes, who would have crept out of caves or crawled from the corners of public baths on their hands and knees begging for mercy.

If I touch only the hem of his garment, one woman thought, could I bear the look on his face when he wheels around? Outer Dark , https: View all 13 comments. Aug 24, Zoeytron rated it really liked it Shelves: There is something inherently wrong with Lester Ballard. As he skulks through the backwoods of Eastern Tennessee, a hunting rifle is his only companion.

Ballard's skewed thinking, awkward ways, and repugnant proclivities render him unfit to be around other people. Darkly disturbing, fascinating and repellent.

Another walk in the dark with Cormac McCarthy. This is his territory. View all 6 comments. View all 25 comments. Aug 16, J. Kent Messum rated it it was amazing Shelves: How far can one book go? How objectionable can the subject matter be? This novel is a descent into the darkness that can befall an uneducated and amoral man when left to his own devices; someone abandoned on the fringes of civilization and left to fend for themselves with what li How far can one book go?

This novel is a descent into the darkness that can befall an uneducated and amoral man when left to his own devices; someone abandoned on the fringes of civilization and left to fend for themselves with what little they possess. When basic needs aren't met and baser desires are never addressed or fulfilled, the human reaction is often extreme and appalling.

History has taught us this time and time again. Lester Ballad is quite possibly one of the most reprehensible characters in modern literature, yet it is impossible to hate him completely. We are products of our environments, the results of upbringings and teachings. What happens to those who have been locked out of normality by the same societies that judge them? If you know anything about Cormac McCarthy, you'll know that the brilliant author is not known for holding back or giving a single shit about how "offended" you might be by some of the harsh realities humanity has to offer.

Read this book and you will be shocked. You will be upset.

But above all, you will be wading into territory very few writers have the fortitude to map and conquer. It is a must read for any avid adult reader; a book that is both brave and depraved at the same time. You have been welcomed. You have been warned. See which other books made the list: View all 9 comments. Sep 05, Kelly and the Book Boar rated it really liked it Shelves: Find all of my reviews at: Just kidding.

However, just in case you think Mitchell and I are slipping, please note that this title was added to the TBR once we discovered it was about a necrophile, which is basically our literary equivalent to.

As I said before, the story here is about a man named Lester Ballard. Much like other experiences with Cormac McCarthy, we readers are kind of plunked down in the middle of the goings on. You know his mother left when he was a boy and that his father hung himself. To say things go downhill for Lester from there would be the understatement of the century because by Part II. As for me? I'm also haunted by the question that begs to be answered — was the man born a monster or was it man who turned him into a monster?

View all 8 comments. Very morbidly entertaining. View 1 comment. Jul 23, Darwin8u rated it really liked it Shelves: I think this novel was the final pupa-state before McCarthy emerged as THE absolute dark monster of American fiction and heir to Faulkner's title of ambassador to the strange malevolence of America's soul.

It wasn't as absurdly redeeming as Suttree or as coldly beautiful as Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West , but had the surreal shock and awe of both. His themes of isolation, perversity, depravity and violence make you feel like climbing into bed with Hannibal Lector or Jame Gumb for warmth and spiritual succor. A great novel, just not a novel that everyone should read. Wander into the dark, damp cave of this McCarthy novel at your own damn risk.

There is an old Mormon children's song called "I am a Child of God. The contrast and juxtaposition for me at least with the book is spectacular.

View all 14 comments. Aug 28, Matt rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone that thinks the public school system is unimportant. I usually try to stay away from any kind of review or description of a book just prior to reading, but I had recently come across the fact that this was supposed to be McCarthy's darkest work.

Cormac McCarthy’s 'Child of God'

Boy, I'll say. This book will make you feel like you need a long shower afterwards. I believe that this was the same affect that Ellis was going for in 'American Psycho', but I think that McCarthy out-Batemaned him on this on 'Child of God' is the third McCarthy book that I have read over the past few weeks. I believe that this was the same affect that Ellis was going for in 'American Psycho', but I think that McCarthy out-Batemaned him on this one.

This book caused many more squirmy moments for me than 'American Psycho' did. The reason for the four stars is because of McCarthy's writing style. He intrigues me as a writer because his prose seems to be very sparse, yet at the same time oddly descriptive. In any given scene he seems to focus on the things that no other writer would focus on, and this gives his work a certain eerieness.

What this means as far as this book is that we get to witness the ugliness of life that is brought about by extreme poverty and ignorance with little possibility of a reprieve from either. Leading the charge is main character Lester Ballard, who is on a real redneck rampage. Imagine the character of Ernest T. Then imagine this child having all of the charm and warmth of the toothless fellow that defiled Ned Beatty and his tighty whities in 'Deliverance' and you pretty much have a composite sketch of Lester Ballard.

The tone of the story reminded me of 'No Country For Old Men' in that it is basically McCarthy saying "here's a disturbing story, let's take a closer look The sheriff in this one is not as fleshed out as a character as the one in 'No Country', so I didn't even pick up on any higher moral messages that may have been afoot.

Basically, if you like McCarthy beyond the sphere of Oprah, you have probably already read this book. If you like that squirmy feeling that arises during off-kilter scenes of violence and sex, by all means give this one a try.

Now it's time for a couple of tangents for my own amusement First, does anyone else have a fixed mental image of a writer when reading a literary work? The most obvious example of this would be the one picture everyone has seen of Poe or Emily Dickinson. My mental image of McCarthy was always that of the wisened old guy of amazing reproductive prowess. If you don't know the one I speak of, go to the quotes section and type in his name. However, I learned from the back cover of this book that back in the Seventies he was the John Holmes of reclusive, literary types.

If you care to see for yourself, here's a link Second and more seriously, I am intrigued by the potential history of a book. If it's used or from the library I always wonder who else has held this book and what did it mean to them?

Of course at the same time I am hoping against hope that it was not a nose-picker or chronic pimple-popper, and so it goes. The reason for bringing this up is because I checked this book out from the same library that I often frequented as a small child. The copyright is and the library stamp is , so the book has been there almost as long as i've been alive.

I'm just curious how many times I may have tottered past the shelf on my way to play with the puppets or check out 'The Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins' for the twenty-seventh time completely unaware of this little seething slab of darkness that awaited. Also, this town is the epitome of conservatism and fundamentalism rush limbaugh grew up here, if that gives you a clue so what the heck is this book doing in our library? The only other McCarthy books that they have in stock are the "Big Three" from the last few years.

Was the person in charge of ordering books in '74 simply unaware, or was it all a part of a plan to throw a monkey wrench in the system? Alas, some questions can never be answered and all self-indulgences including this one must come to an end. Lester Ballard is a strange guy, a marginal. Armed with his rifle, which he never leaves, almost the extension of his arm, he wanders in the forest. Vagabond, half wild, a little crazy, he lives in a cave, hunting the squirrel for food.

And sometimes, it takes him, he kills. He kills strangers, whom an unfortunate chance has placed on his way, without affect, emotion, or anger. He kills, driven by his instinct, an animal instinct. And sometimes, he relieves his frustration on the corpse of a wom Lester Ballard is a strange guy, a marginal. And sometimes, he relieves his frustration on the corpse of a woman.

As Lester Ballard moves away from civilization, alone and miserable, more and more animal, he sinks into madness. This theme treated by another person would have sunk into vulgarity and ease.

But Cormac McCarthy is not just any writer. McCarthy is a demanding author. His story is dark, gloomy, desperate but he never falls into easy trash and lust. There is no linear plot. McCarthy perfectly handles the art of the ellipse. McCarthy's writing is, stripped down, straightforward, beautiful in simplicity.

Under his pen, ugliness is sublimated, the sordid is born a strong poetry and violent as the nature he describes so well. Sep 01, Melody rated it really liked it Shelves: This is one of those books that, when you read it, and really like it, it makes you wonder if you should be worried about yourself. But then you should have known better. I mean this book is written by Cormac McCarthy — so I knew what it would be like. The main character is like those people you try to avoid in The Road but this book takes place before whatever catastrophic happening brings down civilization.

But I might just read it again. Oct 13, Perry rated it liked it Shelves: He had no parents, recently lost his home and cannot carry on normal relationships with women. When he finds a couple dead in a parked car, he takes the woman with him to be his necro-concubine in a house in which he' Such a Cute Little Novel about a Cave-Dwelling Necrophiliac Murderer The narrator of this short novel describes the main character, Lester Ballard, as "a child of God much like yourself perhaps.

When he finds a couple dead in a parked car, he takes the woman with him to be his necro-concubine in a house in which he's squatting.

The writing was good, covering themes of violent cruelty, sexual deviancy and moral degradation. I cannot recommend this unless you feel compelled to read the entire McCarthy collection. View all 3 comments. Tinha os olhos encovados e fumegantes. May 10, Lou rated it it was amazing Shelves: There was two main reasons for re-reading this novel in the month of October , one was due to reading William Gay's novel The provinces of night of which the title is taken from the opening sentence of a chapter from this novel.

The second reason was Donald Ray Pollock's recommendation to read this in a recent interview I had with him. I am now more convinced that we have in our midst a great writer. In the first read of this and The Road I payed less attention to the prose and the whole way There was two main reasons for re-reading this novel in the month of October , one was due to reading William Gay's novel The provinces of night of which the title is taken from the opening sentence of a chapter from this novel.

In the first read of this and The Road I payed less attention to the prose and the whole way it was presented, and due to this it did not fare as well as it did now. This story is the opposite to what the title may lead you to believe it is about, the main character is ungodly almost like he is a devilish entity creating havoc across the land.

McCarthy has crafted together a story successfully with master craftsmanship, containing a subject matter that is at times one of the most brutal and gruesome you would read of in a story. This story reads like it was penned as a collaborative work by Jim Thompson and William Faulkner. The main protagonist is a an individual whose disturbed, a sociopath, who does the unspeakable with the dead.

There are shocking moments, repulsive and bizarre, in one place in the story he carried off a dead woman, along with the squirrels he hunted, to a resting place to partake in unspeakable acts. He also has the murder of a child to his name, there is yonder much toil, blood, and darkness.

The tale is shockingly, vivid, and terrible in content, but told in great sentences, with words in the right places. Told by an author who can make the groutesque and terrible beautiful with his lyrical craftmanship. The right length of novel that would linger in your mind either in shock or awe.

He is small, unclean, unshaven. He moves in the dry chaff among the dust and slats of sunlight with a constrained truculence. Wasps pass in a through the laddered light from the barnslats in a succession of strobic moments, gold and trembling between black and black, like fireflies in the serried upper gloom.

An illusion of multiple voices, a ghost chorus among old ruins. Lying with his fingers plugged in the bores of his ears against the strident cheeping of the myriad black crickets with which he kept household in the barren cabin. Through their eyes, the reader begins to identify with him. It is as if their attention, good or bad, is enough to humanize him. McCarthy emphasizes the similarities between Ballard and the rest of humanity.

He gives him the trait of an unconquerable curiosity. As long as Ballard is watching the world, trying to figure out its mysteries, we are curious to see the world through his eyes. No species has wrought as much violent destruction as man. And yet there is no relativism in this scarifying work. He leaves the family of man.

If we are disgusted that a creature like Ballard could even exist, it is up to us to continue to uphold the values that deem him a scourge.

McCarthy sees that those most empathetic to our actions are also those best equipped to pass judgment on us. We live and die by those who know us best.The critical consensus states: "An obviously reverent adaptation that fails to make a case for the source material being turned into a movie, Child of God finds director James Franco outmatched by Cormac McCarthy's novel.

After this "first love" is destroyed in a fire, he becomes proactive, creating dead female partners by shooting them with his rifle. All we know of his past is that his mother ran off when he was a boy and that his father hanged himself and that Lester was a childhood bully. The bodies are accidentally discovered by a farmer plowing. If we are disgusted that a creature like Ballard could even exist, it is up to us to continue to uphold the values that deem him a scourge.

Jun 29, Pages. Please log in or sign up now. The novel is structured in three segments, each segment describing the ever-growing isolation of the protagonist from society.

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