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Cormac McCarthy prepares to publish new novels 'The Traveler' and 'Stella Maris': NPR

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Author Cormac McCarthy attends the premiere of “The Road” in New York on November 16, 2009. McCarthy has two novels coming out this fall.

Evan Agostini/AP

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Evan Agostini/AP

Author Cormac McCarthy attends the premiere of “The Road” in New York on November 16, 2009. McCarthy has two novels coming out this fall.

Evan Agostini/AP

Cormac McCarthy fans, who have been waiting for a new work from the well-known American writer for 16 years, are waiting for a surprise.

Traveller, by Cormac McCarthy


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Traveller, by Cormac McCarthy


It’s hard to categorize the reclusive author’s two new interconnected novels, which were released on October 25 and December 6, respectively.

first bookTravelleropens with a mysterious plane crash at sea in search of a neurotic rescue diver obsessed with his sister. The whole second book Stella Marisconsists of knowledgeable conversations between this sister, a mathematical genius, and a therapist at the psychiatric hospital to which she is dedicated.

By all accounts, McCarthy has been working on these for at least forty years.

“Eight years ago, we were working on these books because McCarthy fans got rabid, and the smell of new books will be big news,” says Jenny Jackson, Knopf’s editor-in-chief. Starting secretly with him in 2014, Dr.

For the interview, Jackson arrives at Napoleon House, a venerable bar in New Orleans’ French Quarter, where McCarthy lived as a young and scarce writer. the hero inside this Traveller is is A troubled commercial diver named Bobby Western, who often comes to Napoleon House to engage in idle talk with eccentric friends.

“In the beginning,” Jackson says, “there’s a huge roster of boisterous characters, and they all work as divers, drink and go to restaurants together. And in the end, each one takes on a journey of its own.”

Neither of these two new books contains the brutality and blood-curdling that McCarthy readers have come to expect. There’s less action and more dialogue overall. Readers may wonder if McCarthy is softening, now that he’s 89 years old.

Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy

breathless writing on back cover Traveller reader: “A sunken jet. Nine passengers. A missing corpse… A rescue diver is chasing a conspiracy beyond his grasp.” But this isn’t a fast-paced crime thriller. No country for old peopleWhat became an Oscar-winning screenplay for the Coen Brothers.

Traveller It starts out as who-du-it but then turns into Bobby’s metaphysical thoughts.

“When you’re Cormac McCarthy and write PathWhat can you do but struggle with God and human consciousness?” he asks.

this Path McCarthy’s latest best-selling novel, published in 2006, is about a father and son’s harrowing journey between end-time cannibals in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Pulitzer won.

McCarthy, Path In his only broadcast interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2007. She says she’s in El Paso with her younger son.

“I just saw this image of these fires on the hill and everything wasted and I thought a lot about my little boy. So I wrote these pages and that was the end of it. And then about four years later when I was in Ireland I woke up one morning and it wasn’t two pages, it was one. I realized it was a book.”

The new paired books are denser than the dark. In particular, they reflect McCarthy’s love and comprehensive understanding of theoretical physics and mathematics. In several interviews, he said that he called his company of scientists at the Santa Fe Institute near his home in New Mexico.

Determined McCarthy fans found enhanced copies of the books and sparked a strong response. Some McCarthy enthusiasts were interviewed at a Cormac McCarthy conference in Savannah, Georgia, in September.

“Novels explore all these aspects of human mental behavior. I think they’re just wonderful,” says Diane Luce, former president of the Cormac McCarthy Society.

“They’re flawed in some ways. They’re likely to be incomprehensible to a lot of people. Let’s just say they’re not my favorite novels,” says Bryan Giemza, a professor of literature at Texas Tech University.

In a third early reading, Creighton University English professor Lydia Cooper says: “These are brain teasers, but they’re also really interesting. The characters are really rich and captivating. I think people will either love them or hate them.”

One of the organizers of the conference in Georgia was British professor Stacey Peebles, who teaches McCarthy at Center College and is editor of the Cormac McCarthy Journal.

“I’ve had students come to my office. They say, ‘Are you going to teach new ones? I’m so excited.'”

Peebles has also read both new books.

“We’ve been waiting for these for a long time,” he says. “There’s always the possibility of reading something new and being disappointed. But I’ve read it once. I’ve read it again. And I’ll probably keep reading it. I mean, all of McCarthy’s works have sentences. It’s going to chill you, but there are a lot of them.”

Here is one of those sentences. Traveller (you can read a longer, NPR-exclusive excerpt here: Stella Maris here):

“God’s own fenders concealed and muttered the barren edge of a nameless desolation where the cold sea of ​​stars broke and boiled and storms howled from that black and surging alcahest.”

Still composing on a manual typewriter, McCarthy is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential writers in English.

“I started to realize quite early on that many of these students wrote like Cormac McCarthy,” says Stephen Harrigan, a Texas novelist and historian who teaches fiction writing at the Michener Writers Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He remembers with a chuckle, “They were writing in strange styles like ‘He went alone to the dark plain.’ That kind of language. And this Old Testament archaic use creates a kind of magic, especially for young writers.”

The McCarthy spell is about to be reapplied, not just for readers, but for researchers as well.

Cormac McCarthy’s literary essays are archived in a locked cabinet in the Witliff Collections at Texas State University in San Marcos.

“We have about a hundred boxes of Cormac stuff here,” says Steve Davis, Witliff’s literary curator, opening the cabinet. “He begins his collection with his first book, External Dark,” and ends with early drafts this Traveller.

Since Witliff received McCarthy’s coveted papers, the last box has been restricted for 15 years, and McCarthy scholars are already lining up to research it. The last box will be opened on the same day. Traveller It’s up for sale – but Davis offered a sneak preview.

“This is the new novel’s box, this Traveller” he says, “and we’re going to pull out this first big folder that says ‘Passenger, old first draft’. Typewriter and photocopied pages have been greatly corrected in pencil.'”

Perhaps the contents of this box will reveal how Cormac McCarthy’s challenging new novels evolved and why he wrote them.