The Pulitzer Prize is an American award that is given for achievements in literature, newspaper, online journalism, and musical composition. It is also arguably the most prestigious award that a book or novelist can receive. One of the authors who have had the honor of winning the award is Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy is an American novelist who has written several books and novels that have been very impactful to literature.
Cormac McCarthy was born on July 20, 1933 in Rhode Island. McCarthy was the third of six kids to be born to Charles Joseph (father) and Glandys Christina McGrail McCarthy (mother). He was originally named Charles after his father and later renamed himself Cormac after the Irish King and the name also means “son of Charles” in Gaelic. In 1937, he and his family moved to Knoxville, TN where he went to Catholic High School. Later, he went on to attend the University of Tennessee majoring in liberal arts in 1951-52. In 1953, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served there for four years. He returned to college from 1957-59 and published his first two stories “Wake of Susan” and “A Drowning Incident”.
While at the University of Tennessee, McCarthy was awarded the Ingram-Merrill Award for his creative writing in 1959 and 1960. When McCarthy left college he went to Chicago, where he worked as a mechanic, while writing his first novel. He later married Lee Holleman, who was also a student at the University of Tennessee, and they moved and settled in Sevier County, Tennessee. Lee Holleman was also a well known author of many different books of poetry including “Desire’s Door”. The couple later had a son, Cullen and later they ended their marriage.
Cormac McCarthy’s first novel was “The Orchard Keeper” and published in the year 1965. The novel is set in a small rural Tennessee community in between the two world wars. It also tells the story about a young boy named John Wesley Rattner and an outlaw named Marion Sylder. This novel later won the William Faulkner Foundation Award in 1966. That William Faulkner Foundation Award is an award that is given to an author for their notable first book or novel. “The Orchard Keeper” is a very impactful book for McCarthy because is started a long series of successful novels for years to come.
In 1968 Cormac McCarthy published the book “Outer Dark”. This novel was Cormac McCarthy’s second novel and is set in Appalachia and the time is somewhere near the turn of the 20th century. The novel also tells the story of a woman named Rinthy who is having her brother’s baby. Although the book did not win any major awards, it was used as a stepping stone for McCarthy as he continued his career as an author. His next book would be one of McCarthy’s most well-known and one of the best novels of the 20th century.
Cormac McCarthy has written several books in his career, but the novel “Child of God” is one of his most well-known. The novel was published in the year 1973 and is about a young outcast and serial killer in Appalachian, Tennessee during the 1960s. “Child of God” was later developed into a movie that was directed by James Franco in 2013 and was a successful movie. Although the book did receive critical praise, it did not make McCarthy very much money. This novel was important for his impact on literature because the way that it was adapted into a film that was successful. Also, the novel is one of the many horror fiction or suspenseful that Cormac McCarthy has written and has been successful.
Another novel that McCarthy wrote was “Suttree” which he originally published in May 1979. This novel by McCarthy is a semi-autobiographical novel that is set in the year 1951 in Knoxville, Tennessee and tells the story of Cornelius Suttree. Cornelius is a man who left his former life of a privileged or wealthy man to become a fisherman of the Tennessee River. It is considered by many people to be McCarthy’s best work or novel of his writing career. McCarthy’s novel was very important to literature because is was his first novel in the autobiographical genre and it was a very successful one.
McCarthy’s next book that was written and published was “Blood Meridian” in April of 1985. “Blood Meridian” is also called “The Evening Redness in the West” and is an epic novel in the Western genre. This novel is regarded as one of McCarthy’s most well-known or famous novels that he has written. Also, this novel has been rumored to later be adapted into a film, but there has not been any proof that it will be. Although the novel did not receive very much attention when it was published in 1985, now it is viewed as the turning point in his career. Many critics like McCarthy’s western writing the most and “Blood Meridian” is his first example of it. This book is impactful to his career because it is regarded by many people and critics to be one of his best works.
In May, 1992 Cormac McCarthy published the novel “All the Pretty Horses”and was his first novel in his “Border Trilogy”. It tells about John Grady Cole who is leaving Texas to go to Mexico with his friend Lacey Rawlins to live as a cowboy. In 2000 the novel was adapted into a film directed by Billy Bob Thornton. The novel received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the U.S. National Book Award. This novel was not like his others, when it was published it was very successful and received excellent reviews. Also, it was a New York Times bestseller, and the novel sold around 190,000 copies were sold in the first six months. This novel was very important to literature and McCarthy’s career because it was his first novel that was very successful when it was first published.
“The Crossing” is a novel that was published by Cormac McCarthy in June 1994 and was the second novel in his “Border Trilogy”. This novel’s setting is during World War Two and tells the story of Billy Parham and his family travelling from New Mexico to Mexico in the 1930s. The novel began by printing 200,000 copies, which is a large amount for a literary fiction novel. Sales for the novel were so rapid that they printed 25,000 more copies before the first month of publication ended. This novel impacted literature and McCarthy’s career from its success and it added on to his well-known “Border Trilogy” novel series.
Cormac McCarthy’s next novel “Cities of the Plain” was published in 1998 and was the third and final volume of his “Border Trilogy” series. This novel brings John Grady. Cole, the main character of “All the Pretty Horses” and Billy Parham from the novel “The Crossing” together and tells their story. It was not as popular or well-received as the other two novels in McCarthy’s “Border Trilogy”. Although the novel was not popular with critics, it was known for its epilogue being good using imagery to refer back to his novel “Suttree”. Even though this novel was not well liked by critics, it was still very important to his career because it finished his “Border Trilogy” series of novels.
In 2005 McCarthy published the novel “No Country for Old Men”. McCarthy had originally written this novel as a screenplay. Its story is set in the Mexico-United States border during the year 1980 and is about a drug deal gone wrong in Texas. The novel was also later developed into the award winning film “No Country for Old Men” by Ethan and Joel Coen in 2007. This novel was his ninth of his career and was very successful with copies sold and later being adapted into the award winning movie.
McCarthy’s tenth and final novel “The Road” is the one that has received the most praise from critics and has won several literary awards. The novel tells the story of a father and his son over a period of a few months after an apocalypse. This novel was yet another one of McCarthy’s works that were later adapted into a successful film, which “The Road” was turned into a film in 2009. Also, the novel received several major literary awards including, The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, James Tait Black Memorial Prize- Fiction, Quil Award for General Fiction, and the Tahtivaeltaja Award. “The Road” has been McCarthy’s most successful novel to date and has impacted his career and the literary world greatly.
In conclusion, Cormac McCarthy is one of the few authors that has had the honor of winning the Pulitzer Prize. McCarthy has written ten novels in his career and a few screenplays. His novels are very well-known for being successful and also being adapted or developed into films that are also successful. One day Cormac McCarthy will go down as one of the greatest authors in America’s literary history for the way that he has greatly impacted it.
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