Yes, I Want to Be Cormac McCarthy When I Grow Up

Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. He writes about what music is circulating through his space every Monday.
I am not the quickest reader in the world. Every night before bed is really the only part of the day when I have time for my nerdy passion--and so I usually only get in 10 or 15 pages before I nod off. Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song took a few months to knock out at my snail's pace. Oh well. The read is just as enjoyable, for sure.

For those of you who know me, you will know that I don't really rest. Even when I am sick, I am still on the go. It's just my nature. Last week, though, after I had arrived home from the UK, I was stricken and absolutely bedridden with bronchitis. REALLY sick. But I look on the bright side of my infirmity: I had lots of time to read. My second most favorite thing to do on this earth . . .

All that said, I think it's time I caught you all up with what has been on my reading list as of late. When I write on this topic, it always seems to get a good response and start stellar discourse.

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote: This book is my latest read. Reading Capote is like going to a movie; his visual descriptions of everything and every character almost pass you by because they are so good. Maybe this would have just been another American murder if not for this book. Would we have ever heard of the Clutters if Truman Capote hadn't become infatuated with this blaring contrast of good and evil on the Kansas plains and written this epic? Doubt it.

Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy: Here is a book you are either going to love or hate; it is just too brutal and demanding to really just give a ho-hum read. This story is dark and frightening and brilliant. Two thumbs up from me.

No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy: If it isn't obvious, I go on author kicks--if I like a particular author, I will read everything I can find by him or her. This book, like The Road, Children of God, and Blood Meridian, demands a lot from the reader. McCarthy's stories are not for the faint of heart. In my opinion, he is the best American fiction writer out there right now. I want to be Cormac McCarthy when I grow up.

The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien: I didn't read this book recently, but a few years back. Someone just asked recently if I'd read it, and the question reminded me just how good this book was. If there ever was an artist on the battlefield, entrenched with his pen and amazing mind, it would be O'Brien. This is not just a war book to any extent.

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair: I know a lot of you probably read this in high school or college or somewhere. The upside of having missed some school in my teens is that now I get to read all of what is or was probably already required reading for most of you. What a f*cking book! I heard somewhere that The Jungle was responsible for changing child-labor and health-code laws back then. A most brutal time in this country's history.

Lexicon Devil, Brendan Mullen: Being a big fan of the Germs may not necessarily be a prerequisite for reading this great rock-and-roll tale. Great? Well, not in the sense that it is a real "literary" piece of work, but great if you want to learn more about the L.A. punk scene in the late '70s.

On deck:

The Help, Kathryn Stockett: I have heard nothing but great things about this book.

Oil!, Upton Sinclair: Because I am on a Sinclair high right now.

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