The books of Cormac McCarthy can be tough to read. For fans of the author and his unsparing and frequently brutal prose, however, this is a feature, not a bug.
McCarthy has entranced countless readers with his provocative and profound stories of the American frontier – but where do McCarthy fans turn when they’ve read all the works by the master and are still hungry for more? These 10 books should help scratch that itch, and may just turn you on to some new voices that can occupy a similarly esteemed place in your literary pantheon.
An Undisturbed Peace
“This absorbing and vivid portrait of 19th-century America will attract serious historical fiction fans,” raves Library Journal about this “far-reaching story of love, courage, and honor” (Booklist) from the author of Marching to Zion and One More River. What's more, Glickman listed Cormac McCarthy's Outer Dark as one of the books that helped her write this story.
Through three disparate and seemingly unrelated characters, Glickman tells the story of one of the greatest shames of American history – the Trail of Tears, as Andrew Jackson forcibly and often violently relocated Native Americans from their ancestral lands.
Publishers Weekly calls this book from Ojibwa author Richard Wagamese, “A worthy testament to the healing power of family and tradition.” In this case, Wagamese brings us this testament through the story of two seemingly very different individuals, a retired rodeo star and a teenage boy from an abusive background.
Together, the two strike a deal that will teach both of them what it means to be family in this unforgettable book filled with “soaring descriptions of the desert landscape, action-packed rodeo scenes, and reverence for hearth and home” (Booklist).
In the Distance
A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Hernan Diaz’s debut novel is a canny mixture of immigrant narrative and reimagined Western, “Something like Huckleberry Finn written by Cormac McCarthy” (The Times).
The result is a book that defies expectations and “upends the romance and mythology of America’s Western experience and rugged individualism” (Star Tribune), as Diaz’s prose follows the adventures of a young Swedish immigrant in California who travels across the American West, encountering a plethora of unique – and uniquely American – characters along the way.
Author Richard Ford is a Pulitzer Prize winner whose best stories “achieve luminous moments, moments with potential to change how the reader sees and thinks” (The New York Times Book Review).
In Rock Springs, he collects ten of these stories – tales of the American West not as it appears in cowboy movies, but as it is experienced by those who live there today. Stories with heart and warmth, humor and tragedy, and the longing and spirit of the American frontier baked into every word.
“Vivid and seductive” is how Kirkus Reviews describes the third novel from screenwriter Todd Komarnicki, whose screenplays include the Clint Eastwood-directed Tom Hanks vehicle Sully (2016).
In this experimental novel, Komarnicki depicts the horrors of war and the toll that combat takes upon the human psyche through the story of an unnamed narrator who is caught up in a seemingly endless wargame with no purpose and no memory of how it all began. Through a haze of booze and battle, the story shows the high cost of war, even for those who survive it.
A truck full of essential supplies drives across a post-apocalyptic South Africa that has been devastated by a deadly virus in this unforgettable novel from thriller superstar Deon Meyer. Fever has been compared favorably to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Stephen King’s The Stand, with King himself calling it “great stuff.”
It tells the story of two people, young Nico Storm and his father Willem, who are among the only survivors of a catastrophic global pandemic. As the two try to survive and build a new community of the “homeless and tempest-tost,” they find themselves and their new home challenged both from without and from within.
The Farmer's Daughter
“Readers with a fondness for Hemingway’s Michigan stories or Cormac McCarthy’s spare regional novels will also find these tales much to their liking,” says Library Journal of these three novellas by the acclaimed author of Legends of the Fall.
Linked by the lyrics of Patsy Cline, these stories are “as dark as they are exuberant” (Publishers Weekly) and chart the adventures of some extremely unlikely characters, including one retired werewolf. Don’t expect the usual genre conventions here, however, as Harrison brings the same poignancy and wit that have defined his career to these “compressed gems” (Publishers Weekly).
The Farther Shore
Salon calls it, “The first great war novel of our generation.” The Kansas City Star hails it as “a literary machine gun.” In a starred review, Booklist raves that, “Every word in Eck’s first novel is as solid as stone.”
All in praise of this short, sharp novel of the horrors and traumas of war, which follows a single platoon separated from their command and plunged into a bold and almost hallucinatory odyssey through hostile terrain, charting the toll that modern warfare takes on the body, on the psyche, and on the soul.
To Name Those Lost
Rohan Wilson’s novel propels us into the Australian frontier, to a town in Tasmania in 1874, where an outlaw struggles to save his 12-year-old son from the region’s chaotic dissolution, even while he himself is pursued by a vengeful foe with a terrible secret.
Based on true events, this “brutal, brilliant, beautiful” book “brings to mind the prose of Cormac McCarthy, Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
Books Are Made Out of Books
Anyone who is a devoted reader of Cormac McCarthy knows that his work is in rich conversation with literary tradition and those writers who have come before. In an interview for New York Times Magazine, McCarthy once famously said that “books are made out of books,” yet he has rarely discussed his own influences or his relationship to other authors and literary works. That’s what makes this one-of-a-kind volume so indispensable to McCarthy fans.
Drawn from McCarthy’s own literary archive at the Wittliff Collection at Texas State University, this comprehensive book examines all the literary allusions and notations made by McCarthy throughout his early drafts, marginalia, and correspondence, correlating these notes directly to his own work and providing readers a unique insight into one of America’s most celebrated writers.