I know I don't usually address the written word in this blog, but I make exceptions for people like Cormac McCarthy. If you don't know Mr. McCarthy, he is the author of Blood Meridian, All The Pretty Horses and No Country For Old Men, among others. His most recent book, 2007's The Road has been adapted for the screen by director John Hillcoat (The Proposition) and is to be released November 25th. McCarthy is an incredible, minimalist writer who professes no interest in granting interviews or signing copies of his work. Today's Wall Street Journal features an article that essentially eavesdrops on a conversation that John Hillcoat, Cormac McCarthy and the articles author John Jurgenson had on a Texas afternoon a few weeks ago.
Something about aging authors makes them a fountain of brilliant, succinct advice that they deliver in a very impersonal way, as if emotions are something you grow out of. That's not to say they are curmudgeonly, but they have no interest in waxing poetic about things that are important to them. They just are.
One example of this is a from recent interview with Maurice Sendak about the adaptation of his book Where The Wild Things Are:
Reporter: "What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?"
Sendak: "I would tell them to go to hell. That's a question I will not tolerate."
Reporter: "Because kids can handle it?"
Sendak: "If they can't handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it's not a question that can be answered."
News outlets were up in arms with his response, but he is doing nothing but answering the question brusquely, and sparing everyone else the BS. Cormac McCarthy is the same way, though perhaps a bit more tender.
In the wide-ranging interview in the WSJ, McCarthy addresses his next book, the apocalypse, Greek tragedies, his young son, and his interest in theoretical science. I highly recommend it if you are interested in Cormac McCarthy or simply getting inside a great writer's head. The life-lessons that he casually dispenses in it really make you re-evaluate the nature of good and evil and what's truly important. Check it out here.