Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cormac McCarthy

Two exchanges from Cormac McCarthy's Q & A with John Jurgensen for the Wall Street Journal:

WSJ: When you discussed making "The Road" into a movie with [director John Hillcoat], did he press you on what had caused the disaster in the story?

CM: A lot of people ask me. I don't have an opinion. At the Santa Fe Institute I'm with scientists of all disciplines, and some of them in geology said it looked like a meteor to them. But it could be anything—volcanic activity or it could be nuclear war. It is not really important. The whole thing now is, what do you do? The last time the caldera in Yellowstone blew, the entire North American continent was under about a foot of ash. People who've gone diving in Yellowstone Lake say that there is a bulge in the floor that is now about 100 feet high and the whole thing is just sort of pulsing. From different people you get different answers, but it could go in another three to four thousand years or it could go on Thursday. No one knows.

* * *
WSJ: For novels such as "Blood Meridian," you did extensive historical research. What kind of research did you do for "The Road"?

CM: I don't know. Just talking to people about what things might look like under various catastrophic situations, but not a lot of research. I have these conversations on the phone with my brother Dennis, and quite often we get around to some sort of hideous end-of-the-world scenario and we always wind up just laughing. Anyone listening to this would say, "Why don't you just go home and get into a warm tub and open a vein." We talked about if there was a small percentage of the human population left, what would they do? They'd probably divide up into little tribes and when everything's gone, the only thing left to eat is each other. We know that's true historically.
Read the complete interview.

The Road
appears on Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, and David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers.

Fans of The Road include Paulette Jiles, Joshua Clark, David Dobbs, Andrew Pyper, Dan Rather, Jim Lehrer, Michael J. Fox, Mark McGurl, and this guy.

--Marshal Zeringue