Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God, lacks the strange lush language of much of his other work. McCarthy takes things like syntax and write-ly diction and pulls them through an extruder that is uniquely his own. What comes out on the other end is a kind of language that is both regional and strangely universal; tied to a place and time, but also free from those moorings, existing in some other realm that we can only call artistic inspiration.
Child of God forgoes that element, and is more concerned with plot and outcome. The result is a novel less richly textured than many of his works, as well as a more traditional plot outline. Even so, the plot has an odd feeling of laxity; as if McCarthy didn’t quite have it into him to follow all the lines he had created in laying out the story.
Part might be the inherent violence in the tale. Maybe this is his first attempt to take American Violence and place in front and center. In the process, McCarthy let other elements slide. We get a novel that has an appeal, but only voyeuristically. We want to know what will happen in the story, but for all the wrong reasons.
This novel is for a fan of McCarthy who wants to see how he is honing themes that he will master in other novels, later in his career (Blood Meridian, The Road, No Country For Old Men). Read Children of God as a primer of what will come later, and come strong.