Saturday, October 14, 2006

The numerology of Cormac McCarthy

I'm currently engrossed in the new Cormac McCarthy novel, The Road. It is powerful stuff, and I may have more to write about it soon. For now, two brief items--

One: here is a striking passage, spoken by an old man the two central characters ("the man" and "the boy") meet on The Road:
When we're all gone at last there'll be nobody here but death and his days will be numbered too. He'll be out in the road there with nothing to do and nobody to do it to. He'll say: Where did everybody go? And that's how it will be. What's wrong with that?
Just to give you a sense of the story, that quote is one of the more comforting passages in the book.

Two: Dwight Garner has a brief item in the Sunday New York Times Book Review about a discussion going on among McCarthy fans about their hero-author's use of a possibly esoteric number in some of his books.
One burning issue in the forums right now is McCarthy’s strategic deployment of the number 117. In his new novel, 1:17 a.m. is when clocks stop and the world ends. In his last one, No Country for Old Men, there was a grisly motel murder in Room 117. And so on. Is McCarthy referencing the Book of Revelations? Genesis? Who knows? One writer on the forum drawls: “That’s the Bible: you can make it support an argument any which way.”
--Marshal Zeringue