Saturday, February 20, 2016

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

I've frequently heard Cormac McCarthy placed very high in terms of writing prowess. I've been trying to branch out more from my traditional fields of historical adventure, fantasy, historical research, science fiction, and horror.

Part of that has been classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Johnny Got His Gun, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. All solid books, well worth reading, very rewarding works.

And then there's Child of God.

The first portion of the novel was nearly incomprehensible to me. I'm reading and reading going, "Okay, a few more pages, a few more pages before I put it down." But I don't.

And I get to the second portion of the book, which is so much better written, it encourages me to finish it.

But it's a book whose purpose I couldn't quite fathom. It's like, "Here's some vile individual with no redeeming qualities but hey, bad stuff!" That worked okay in The Road with it's bleak outlook and horrific setting but here it fell flat on its face.

I'm sure there are some that love it but I just couldn't get into it.

Having said that, even though I find the main character, Lester Ballard, a horrid character, he could make a great antagonist in a fantasy RPG.

Imagine a ranger or wilderness survivor who doesn't deal with civilized folks. His own house, which isn't his, is rumored to have burned down and within it's confines, rumors persist that things.... unwholesome things were found in the burnt ruins.

Living in a series of caves now, Lester interacts with horrific sub-humanoids that leave him alone.... in exchange for flesh!

Imagine if you took the monsters from the movie the Descent, took the hinted at nature of the sequel where people were helping to feed the monsters, and had Lester, a survivor who doesn't care what he's dealing with, providing the monsters with people as meet and other things.

Imagine further that Lester's horrors don't end there and that he's favored by foul deities who reward him with undead followers.  Imagine heroes entering a room that has zombies covered in adipocere, "a pale gray cheesy mold common to corpses in damp places, and scallops of light fungus grew among them as they do on logs rotting in the forest. The chamber... filled with a sour smell, a faint reek of ammonia." Lester could have his own brand of zombies who guard their slayer.

The description of the caverns has merit and it's a quick read. If you've got a knack for mashing genres and ideas up like I tend to have, you can pull some interesting bits from it for your own games. But on it's own? Thumbs down!