I think book synchronicity is fantastic! I just finished reading a disturbing book about the beauty and brutality of the British countryside and my next book is about the ugliness about the American south and is equally disturbing.
The main protagonist of Child of God is Lester Ballard, and there is no other way to describe him, is a degenrate human being. Take all the bad qualities of the human race and they are all encapsulated in Lester Ballard. To actually describes the actions he performs throughout the book is something I’d rather the reader discover but I will say that it’s not pleasant.
Saying that Cormac McCarthy is a master at this. He knows how to get into his character’s psyche and get a reaction from the reader. He did in Blood Meridian and also in All the Pretty Horses . McCarthy excels at bringing out the nastier side of people.
He also great at describing the environment his characters inhabit. In this case it’s a backwards town : The garbage man has nine daughters named from the medical dictionary, there are special needs children, racism exists, people steal, lie and cheat. Like Myers there are juxtapositons; along with all this ugliness there are digressions in which nature is the focus.
The book is presented as a series of three page vignettes but a plot of sorts does emerge as one keeps on reading and that’s definitely worth doing as McCarthy takes Lester Ballard’s actions to different territories: this is a man who has no moral compass whatsoever.
One thing it is worth noting: Child of God is McCarthy’s third novel. Although in later books his style got more refined, it’s interesting to see that even in the early days his themes about the dark side of the mind were fully formed. I won’t say that Child of God is a masterpiece but it’s a fine snapshot of great things to come.