Cormac McCarthy (1933–2023), Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘The Road’

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Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author known for novels including “The Road,” “Blood Meridian,” and “All the Pretty Horses.”

Award-winning writing

Several of McCarthy’s books were adapted for the screen, and the 2007 film adaptation of his 2005 novel “No Country for Old Men” won four Oscars, including Best Picture. McCarthy’s work received honors, and the author won a MacArthur Fellowship – also known as a Genius Grant – in 1981. His 1992 novel “All the Pretty Horses” won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, while 2006’s “The Road” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. A 2006 poll of authors and publishers ranked “Blood Meridian” as the third-greatest American novel of the previous 25 years. Prominent literary critic Harold Bloom called McCarthy one of the four greatest novelists of his time.

McCarthy’s style

McCarthy wrote using what he called “simple declarative sentences,” using little punctuation and preferring the word “and” over a comma. His aversion to punctuation included considering semicolons “idiocy” and declining to add quotation marks to dialogue. His lightly punctuated work was often violent, but always firmly rooted in the real world. McCarthy disliked even magic realism in novels, commenting in an interview for Time magazine, “You know, it’s hard enough to get people to believe what you’re telling them without making it impossible. It has to be vaguely plausible.”

Notable quote

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” —from “All the Pretty Horses

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