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Fame And Obscurity

Illustration for article titled Fame And Obscurity

I found this over at Longform (and if you haven't bookmarked this site by now, whadda ya waiting for?)—Robert Draper's 1992 Texas Monthly story on Cormac McCarthy. I'm not drawn to McCarthy's writing but I'm a sucker for profiles of writers and this is a good one:

Until very recently, no one had heard of novelist Cormac McCarthy, other than the hundred or so people who regarded him as the nation’s greatest living writer of prose. Even his handful of admirers enjoyed only the most tenuous of bonds with their hero. Many were academicians, a species McCarthy has never thought much of. The rest were literary zealots who seemed bent on tracking down the author and prodding him with questions about his writing. That was problematic for two reasons: McCarthy didn’t like the outside world to know where he was, and he didn’t like to discuss his work.

Since 1976, the Rhode Island–born and Tennessee-bred McCarthy has lived in El Paso, where he completed his fourth and fifth novels, Suttree and Blood Meridian—both critically heralded (“invites comparisons with Faulkner’s best,” “without parallel in American writing today”), both commercial flops. Now and again a visitor from some distant city would show up at the El Paso office of attorney Bobby Perel, McCarthy’s friend and conduit to the outside world, and ask for a chance to meet the author. Every year or so, a literary journal would issue an analysis of the darkly baroque McCarthy Style; an organization would throw a ceremony in his honor; a reporter would come to El Paso with a list of questions. What few attempts the world made to embrace Cormac McCarthy were politely rebuffed, and onward he passed his days as that rarest of beasts: a writer content with obscurity.

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