Earlier today, while doing some research for a series of essays I hope to post in the coming months, I stumbled down a YouTube wormhole and found a video review of Cormac McCarthy’s 1985 novel, Blood Meridian.
The book, like nearly all of McCarthy’s work, is amazing. To my mind you’d be hard-pressed to find a greater American author alive today. Among the many things that this book is: brilliantly and beautifully written, thoughtful, dark, archaic, vibrant, challenging, etc., it is also violent. Terribly, disturbingly, nauseatingly violent. Please let that be clear, oh faint of heart reader in search of a recommendation for summer beach reading.
But Blood Meridian isn’t really the focus of this post. I don’t quickly recommend this book; that is, it takes a very special reader to find this material appealing. What is of note, and is in fact the reason I’m writing, is the video I found of a guy reviewing the book.
Objectively speaking, there’s nothing especially insightful about his review, which consists of a very short and simple plot outline. But what struck me most, what ultimately captured me, was the reviewer himself.
A crueler person than I’d like to be would probably make fun of him, for reasons of his physique and demeanor that will immediately become obvious should you watch the video. For what it’s worth, I actually find his presence charming. But what excited me most— enough that I stopped doing other things to do this—is his unabashed excitement.
Here’s a guy who loves this book! He’s so excited about it that he’s set up a shitty video feed in his kitchen, found a bottle of whiskey, a cigar and a butcher knife, and is stumbling over himself to tell you all about it. He’s so damned excited he didn’t even have time to put a shirt on first.
Yesterday, I spent time with a little buddy of mine named Ezra. He’s two years old and is the very adorable child of some close friends. We were at the park and Ezra was playing on some playground equipment when he decided the monkey bars were no longer interesting. Instead, he began to run laps around the playground area, a looping circle several hundred feet in circumference.
He ran around once and returned to where we adults were standing. He hugged his mother’s legs, his father’s legs, my legs, and then went around again. And again. And again and again and again and again, stopping each time only to jam his face into our kneecaps before continuing his laps.
The point here isn’t that he’s an especially talented runner—without being a braggart, I’m much faster and have far greater endurance— but that Ezra, precisely like this dude in the video, was so damned happy and excited to be doing exactly and only what he was doing. He was alive, enthralled with his body and its reality in the world, in love with running, in the same way this reviewer is in love with Cormac McCarthy’s story.
Most of us don’t go through the world like this. Perhaps such generalities aren’t useful and I should modify my pronouns: I don’t go through the world like this, or at least not as often as I wish I did. I’m too jaded or busy or tired or anxious or any of the other millions things that keep me from being wholly and happily invested in this moment, right now, the only one that ever was.
I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a thing so much that I wanted to make a home video about it, or ran circle after circle simply because it was fun and made me happy.
But before I sound like more of a tongue-clucking dullard than I truthfully am, let me admit this: I’m making this blog post, right now, with a goofy-ass grin on my face, happy as can be that little boys like to run in circles and tickled to tears that some stranger loved a book so much he made this video.
A sad update: as of the fall of 2016 this wonderful video review is no longer available on YouTube. You’ll just have to take my word for it, and should I ever stumble across it again, I’ll be certain to re-post it.