Cormac McCarthy, my new hero

Generally speaking, I hate author interviews. I don't like it when author personalities intrude in my reading space. In my imagination, authors are little writing machines, who have names only to keep me from confusing them with each other. I don't want to hear about their personal lives, their favorite football teams, or their tragic childhoods (I'll read the thinly veiled version in their novels, thank you very much).


Cormac McCarthy's interview at the Wall Street Journal was just so, so brilliant that I can't not link to it. A favorite excerpt:
There are signed copies of [The Road], but they all belong to my son John, so when he turns 18 he can sell them and go to Las Vegas or whatever. No, those are the only signed copies of the book....So occasionally I get letters from book dealers or whoever that say, "I have a signed copy of the 'The Road,'" and I say, "No. You don't."
People apparently only read mystery stories of any length. With mysteries, the longer the better and people will read any damn thing. But the indulgent, 800-page books that were written a hundred years ago are just not going to be written anymore and people need to get used to that. If you think you're going to write something like "The Brothers Karamazov" or "Moby-Dick," go ahead. Nobody will read it. I don't care how good it is, or how smart the readers are. Their intentions, their brains are different.
And perhaps the best gem here:
I'm not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.
Cormac McCarthy, you have just made my hall of heroes (and what makes me love you more is knowing that you don't give two shits if I like you or not). Read the whole thing—it's absolutely worth it.


  1. I take umbrage at the short stories comment. Not that he doesn't write them but that he believes they aren't as big a commitment on the part of the writer.

    IMHO, short stories are the absolute hardest thing to write. To build and communicate characters and motivations less than novel length requires a huge amount of skill. Just because there aren't as many words doesn't mean a good one gets cranked out in a week. Parker's Back packs a lifetime of spiritual questing and struggle into short story form better than any novel I have ever read and I'm pretty sure Flannery O'Connor put some blood, sweat, and tears into it.

    I love what he's done with the signed copies, though. Seriously cool.

  2. I agree with Laurel regarding the short stories. As for learning about authors i'm hit and miss. I hate it when an author i love becomes less to me because of something i heard about them or something they've done (sigh, alice hoffman) but i love when you get to read fun anecdotes, ala Stephen King in On Writing.

  3. If you really love him, send him some quotation marks. He apparently ran out a long time ago.

  4. Already read it, already love him. I'm willing to overlook the quotation mark problem.