The World Mourns: Legendary Author Cormac McCarthy’s Untimely Demise

Acclaimed author Cormac McCarthy, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning work “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men,” has passed away at the age of 89.

John McCarthy, his son, confirmed the author’s natural death, as per the statement from his publishing house.

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Cormac McCarthy’s literature, known for its stark violence, moral uncertainty, and often grim themes, ignited both adoration and criticism. His narratives, akin to a punch in the face followed by a gulp of hard liquor, depicted man’s raw struggle against nature’s fundamental forces.

Born as Charles McCarthy Jr. in Providence, Rhode Island on July 20, 1933, he was one of six siblings in an Irish Catholic household. His early years witnessed a move to Knoxville, Tennessee, where his father practiced law, and the family enjoyed relative wealth compared to their neighbors. “We were seen as wealthy since everyone around us dwelled in one- or two-room huts,” he revealed in an uncommon interview with The New York Times.

Article Highlight: Remembering Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’: A look into the face of mortality

The South, teeming with its gothic and neo-Western ambiance, provided the crux for McCarthy’s creative landscape, reflecting the narrative tradition of William Faulkner. McCarthy’s distinctive style comprised deceivingly plain, affirmative sentences, minimalist punctuation, and dialogue devoid of quotation marks and often attribution.

McCarthy’s academic journey took him to the University of Tennessee in the early ’50s. However, he left midway to join the Air Force, only to return later, publish two short stories in “The Phoenix,” the student literary magazine, before abandoning his studies once again.

“The Orchard Keeper,” his debut novel, was published in 1965, earning him the William Faulkner Foundation Award for an outstanding first novel. The book, along with the subsequent three, were based in Appalachian Tennessee, deeply influenced by his Southern roots.

His fifth book, “Blood Meridian,” shattered this trend. This bloody narrative, set against an 1800s Texas backdrop and depicting a band of scalp-hunters, embodied McCarthy’s distinctive style and skill. The novel was described by Caryn James in a 1985 New York Times review as a slap that demands us to endure a raw depiction of the Old West.

Popular success came McCarthy’s way with “All the Pretty Horses” in 1992. The best-seller, which won the National Book Award, was later made into a movie featuring Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz, under Billy Bob Thornton’s direction.

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Joel and Ethan Coen further elevated McCarthy’s popularity with their film adaptation of “No Country for Old Men” in 2007. The movie bagged four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and even brought the reclusive McCarthy to the Oscars ceremony. McCarthy’s first original screenplay later became “The Counselor,” a Ridley Scott-directed film, starring Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz in 2013.

However, it was “The Road,” his post-apocalyptic novel, for which McCarthy is most renowned. Published in 2006, this chilling tale of a father and son navigating through a destroyed world was picked for Oprah Winfrey’s book club in 2007. McCarthy appeared in a rare interview on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Later the same year, the book earned him the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and a movie adaptation was released in 2009, starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

A 16-year hiatus followed before McCarthy surprised readers with linked novels “The Passenger” and “Stella Maris” in late 2022. With these two novels, he turned his apocalyptic perspective inward, delving into the human soul and the shared pain of a brother and sister burdened by their lineage, brilliance, and an illicit love for each other.

USA TODAY’s review, with a rating of 3.5 out of 4, asserts, “Reading ‘The Passenger’ and ‘Stella Maris’ in light of their author’s impending mortality is impossible; this is the oeuvre of a man gazing into his own approaching nonexistence.”

McCarthy, who married and divorced thrice, is survived by his two sons, Cullen McCarthy and John Francis McCarthy. “The Road” is dedicated to the latter.

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