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Cormac McCarthy: The Fable Reading Guide

Best Cormac McCarthy Books
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy has died, leaving a powerful literary legacy for readers and writers. He wrote like a painter, masterfully maneuvering between stark minimalism and intricate detail. His work has inspired several adaptations and an Oprah Winfrey Book Club pick.In memory of this great writer, we’ve collected recommendations for different kinds of readers. Whether you have a science fiction book club or a writers’ group looking for inspiration, there is a Cormac McCarthy book for you.It’s important to remember that McCarthy’s stories can get pretty intense. He doesn’t hold back when exploring the violence and darkness of human nature. His tales can be pretty heavy, but remember to watch for those subtle rays of hope peeping through. 

An unforgettable writing style

McCarthy had a reputation as “a writer’s writer,” inspiring many writers with his one-of-a-kind prose that drew comparisons to the literary forces of William Faulkner and James Joyce. An excellent essay at Open Culture outlined the novelist’s signature style:

"McCarthy declares his stylistic convictions with simplicity: 'I believe in periods, in capitals, in the occasional comma, and that’s it.' It’s a discipline he learned first in a college English class, where he worked to simplify 18th century essays for a textbook the professor was editing ... he continued to simplify, working, he says to Oprah, 'to make it easier, not to make it harder' to decipher his prose. For those who find McCarthy sometimes maddeningly opaque, this statement of intent may not help clarify things much. But lovers of his work may find renewed appreciation for his streamlined syntax."

The best Cormac McCarthy book for first-time readers

 “For new readers of Cormac McCarthy’s work, 'All the Pretty Horses' is a perfect place to start,” writes Knopf Executive Editor Jenny Jackson, who edited Cormac’s novels, “The Passenger” and “Stella Maris.” It’s a tale of love, loss, adventure, and longing, all set against the raw backdrop of the Texas-Mexico borderlands.

The best novel for movie buffs

No Country for Old Men” is the greatest adaptation of McCarthy’s work. This is a heart-stopping thriller and a thought-provoking exploration of fate and morality. The Cohen brothers adapted this hardboiled classic about Anton Chigurh, one of the evilest characters ever imagined, as he crosses the blood-soaked Texan landscape.

The best Cormac McCarthy book for writing inspiration

If you are a writer hoping to follow in the great novelist’s footsteps, “Suttree” is a great place to start, packed with his unforgettable dialogue and a mesmerizingly poetic saga of one man’s life on the Tennessee River. Knopf Executive Editor Jackson notes that the novel “showcases the hallmarks of his work: his gift for dialogue, startling violence, hypnotic, rhythmic writing that builds into a story of what it truly means to be human.”

The best novel for science fiction fans

This book is unquestionably “The Road.Set in a bleak, post-apocalyptic version of our world, this Pulitzer-winning novel wraps you in a father-son bond that brings the soft, warm glow of hope. This book is not for the faint of heart, with intense scenes of violence and constant dread.

The best novel for literary readers

“The book is brutal, but there is nothing senseless about his use of cruelty. It is a study of evil and our relationship to this darkness in our own humanity,” writes editor Jenny Jackson about “Blood Meridian.” Every paragraph bears McCarthy’s stark, lyrical prose and profound themes. It’s a violent odyssey through the American West that has inspired generations of readers.

The best Cormac McCarthy book for seekers

“'The Passenger' is the story of a salvage diver, haunted by loss, afraid of the watery deep, pursued a conspiracy beyond his understanding, and longing for a death he cannot reconcile with God,” explains Knopf Executive Editor Jackson. The book explores the intersection of morality and science, probing “the madness that is human consciousness.”

Keep reading on Fable!

Sharing a book with friends, family, and co-workers is a great way to enjoy the entire mental and physical benefits of reading. We call this “social reading.” The Fable app is built for social reading, with tools for sharing highlights, comments, insights, links, pictures, and videos as you read together.Find a book club to join for free!We also make it easy to launch your own free book club. With our platform, you can host every aspect of an online discussion at a single destination, to reach readers and build safe online communities regardless of location or time zone.Start your own book club today!You can sample our ever-growing collection of Folios, exceptional book recommendations from some of the world’s great tastemakers. Each Folio covers a critical theme, and some of our Folio curators include LeVar Burton, Paulo Coelho, Wolfgang Puck, and Jasmine Guillory. Discover great book recommendations!

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