Child of God

Child of God

by Cormac McCarthy


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In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard—a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape—haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail.  While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780844667508
Publisher: Smith, Peter Publisher, Inc.
Publication date: 01/01/1994
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist, screenwriter, and playwright who has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A number of his works have been adapted into films, including All the Pretty Horses, The Road, and the four-time Academy Award–winning No Country for Old Men.

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Child of God 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Child of God is indeed a disturbing book. I live in rural Virginia and have known many people who have lived for generations in the same world dipicted in this book. This deliverance-esque way of life is very real, although it may seem foreign to most people. The actions of Lester Ballard may be ghasty and horrible at times, but are also undeniably quite humorous. This book is very much what you might imagine the life of Edward Gein might have been- a man who is generally thought of as the town dullard and goofus, maybe a little wierd- who has an entirely different life unbeknownst to the people with whom he has lived with his entire life. I found this book, funny, horrible, and very thought provoking. This is a book that shows you a very well-drawn picture of a sad and hopeless man, and what his life is like. This picture may not be pretty, but it is real- and it shows you a different aspect of life that you may not have realized was there. This book stays in your mind for a long time, and I would only recommend it to people who are interested in expanding their knowledge and broadening their point of view. If you are looking for a book that is comfortable and relaxing, you should stick to All The Pretty Horses.
the_white_bull More than 1 year ago
"It was was was that..." Most of you didn't even understand this novel and have no business reviewing it. That McCarthy created a character who, in spite of all the crazy, depraved things he does, still evokes our sympathy or at least not our outright ire, is amazing. Lester is definitely a memorable character, his actions are an abomination and unforgiveable, and yet Cormac's point that Lester, too, is a child of God still shines through. That takes a master's touch. For those of you who distilled this down to some kind of titillating horror show--read Harry Potter and leave grown up fiction to grown ups.
Call_me_Felix More than 1 year ago
This was the first book by Cormac McCarthy I decided to check out and it certainly hasn't been my last. Reading McCarthy is like reading poetry; the lines flow with such unique and tangible imagery that you forget you're reading fiction. He does an amazing job at capturing the environment and time period of the characters in Child of God, and allow the reader to experience a lifestyle they have probably never been exposed to. The content is not for the faint of heart - the lead character is an anti-hero, to say the least. Yet in spite of Ballard's dark deeds, McCarthy is skilled enough to somehow make us feel for Ballard's circumstance and palpable loneliness. I would highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Child of God' goes deep down and explores the depths of human perversity and insanity. Lester Ballard is a demented individual living in the eastern hill country of Tennessee who has been falsely accused of rape. After a very brief stint in the clink, he begins committing savage acts against his fellow man. Overall, this is an interesting and gripping novel, but very stomach turning and graphic. The novel is very well written and features stunning imagery. I liked the chapter where the town sheriff, deputy and an elderly man named Mr. Wade are rowing a boat down the flooded town streets. I thought their conversation was interesting and a little surreal. Overall, a good book to read. Beware though, it's not for those who don't like to read about gruesome and sinister things.
SavageBS More than 1 year ago
First of all, this is a very dark book, creepy and depressing throughout! The book centers around a lonesome man by the name of Lester Ballard, he's a little bit (Hannibal Lecter) and a little bit (Ed Gein). Lester finds a dead girls body, instead of telling someone, he takes her home. After the first one, Lester can't stop! The story in "Child of God" takes awhile to really get going, but the last half of the book is a page turner! Highly recommended to all McCarthy fans! Amazingly this McCarthy book was written in 1973! Wow! Great short read that takes you to a dark, dark place!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, but extremely disturbing story. Tackles acts of violence and perversion that are very unsettling. With all that being said, the story truly sticks with you long after you're through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another eloquently written novel by McCarthy. If you love his bleak, straightforward prose and his dark subjects, you will love all of his novels, including this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
McCarthy has a writing style that will spoil you. He puts you into the story like no other author I know of.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lester isnt a good person and at some parts I found myself questioning if I really wanted to finish this book but in the end i decided to stick with it and what I found surprised me. I started to pity Lester and wish someone would have helped him. He did unspeakable, nasty things but he just wanted love really. He was still a child of God. Maybe Im crazy, but this is my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reason there is no "suspense" is because Mccarthy wrote in the southern gothic style. The whole genre consists of no real suspense, no climax. Faulkner also wrote in this way, and while many people consider him a fantastic writer, we find no real suspense in his works either.
Craig Rot More than 1 year ago
The wit and pace of his middling works, the infectious tone and dialogue of Suttree, and the stark and discomfitting humanity of his darker works.
jkeenen More than 1 year ago
It would seem to be quite a challenge to wrote a story about a man who murders women and keeps there bodies in a series of tunnels in a way that a reader could tolerate, non the less enjoy. However, Cormac McCarthy manages to do this for the most part. He never apologizes for the way Lester Ballard acts, and doesn't really try to explain it in a way that would make it understandable or forgivable. However, it's still possible to enjoy the story of this strange man. Also, the sections that tell the story from the point of view of the others who live in the town he's tormenting adds variety and some aspects of mild humor (though I wouldn't consider the story a comedy). Any book that can tell such a morbid story in a way that can be enjoyed, and forces the reader to think about how enjoying it makes them feel, is surly a good read. And the short length means anyone can get into it and finish in just a few days.
SoCalMom More than 1 year ago
Cormac McCarthy is quick to the point in this short tale. I rather enjoyed this book. <br> Lester Ballard is one creepy guy running around the hills of Tennessee disposing of bodies as he sees fit. Well, not disposing of, rather displaying and using them for his freaky needs.
Irving_Washington More than 1 year ago
You can't beat Cormac McCarthy for aesthetic beauty. Lester Ballard is evil and at the same time pitifully likeable. Nobody steps in saying he is the bad guy. The dialect is itself a work of art, like most of McCarthy's novels, it shows you the characters more than any physical detail.

Child of God is a short story, in my opinion. A small, fast story that will linger long after you've read the last page.

It's deranged and hysterical. One of my favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Southern gothic at it's finest.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a very fast read. I think it is typical McCarthy - morbid, dark, easily-read. It is not nearly as good, or as dark as I had expected. The reviews said it involved rape... but it doesn't. The reviews indicated that it's about poverty and etc driving a man to become less than a man and it's not that either.It's about a crazy man, living an impoverished life in a by-gone era - the poverty didn't necessarily make him crazy - maybe he already was or would have been regardless. And the book is impoverished in empathy - we don't feel sympathy for him because he is portrayed as little more than an animal, just scrabbling up enough to survive. We don't even feel very revolted by his behavior because it's so 'matter of course.' And we don't even get the satisfaction of a just resolution in the end.All in all, we aren't led to care.
technobrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is McCarthy at his southern gothic best.
jpporter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book is nasty, brutish and short. Everything Thomas Hobbes could want to show what life in a state of nature would be like. The main character - Lester Ballard - gets my vote for being the most despicable characterization of a human being imaginable; yet, in some way, McCarthy seems to want, at some level, to create some sense of sympathy for Ballard.McCarthy's works tend to be blunt, uncompromising (and frequently unsympathetic) looks at humanity - the sort of stuff one doesn't want to acknowledge - that hit too close to home to be comfortable. He has an eye for precision in his narration that is stark, uneasy, yet - in its own way - quite beautiful.This may not be a book for everyone, as some parts approach the absolutely disgusting. But if you want to experience real American literature as few other authors dare present it, Child of God may be a masterpiece.
Dogberryjr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Child of God is a stunning piece of writing. McCarthy quickly settles the reader into deep Appalachia and spins a tale of exclusion, poverty, evil and perversion like none other I've read. It would have been easy for this book to slide into a Stephen King-ish tale of simple macabre, but McCarthy manages, through his careful prose, to mingle suspense, horror and deviance into an incredible story.
donkeytiara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
more haunting visions from my literary hero... in the right hands, the ugliness of the human soul can be a beautiful story....or is that vice versa???
samfsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Draw a line from William Faulkner through the midnight dark of the human soul and at the end of it you will find Cormac McCarthy, picking over the bones of murderer and murdered, like some oracle seeking the truth of the ways of man and god. McCarthy¿s god is, at best, indifferent. At worst, malevolent and sadistic.This is the story of Lester Ballard's descent into hell. Ballard is a piece of work, a real child of god. McCarthy tells it in stark and simple prose with black humor. Ballard, with the cunning of all men, learns to take advantage of his situation, preying, like the "Son of Sam" murderer, on lovers parked in cars along lonely mountain roads. In his depravity, Ballard takes advantage of the dead female bodies.No one can tell stories of this kind better that Cormac McCarthy. After reading it I felt depressed and blue for days, wary that a sadistic god would laugh when I was struck down by some depraved child of god.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disturbing and dark, but incredibly engaging. Don't touch this is you've got a weak stomach or can't take taboo subjects, but I'd recommend this one highly. I'd also suggest going into it without much knowledge (if any) of what it's about.
goddamn_phony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
That kid at school who always had a runny nose and a rash around his mouth from licking his lips, and he smelled funny, and used to eat out of the bin and expose himself to other kids...he grew up and Cormac McCarthy wrote a book about him
hampusforev on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To call Child of God Cormac-lite might be a bit misleading, it's as dark and twisted as any of his other works, with incest-produced idiot offspring and violent encounters with man's dark nature. But it is an easy read, without being particularly diligent I read this in three days. The prose is very good as always, shifting narrative voices and keeping a balanced, stark and poetic language. Cormac sparkles the work with some of his sinister humour and I found myself both grinning and grimacing throughout the novel. What I love about McCarthy's characters is the authors complete unwillingness to resort to any pseudo-psychology or freudian events in the character's past to explain them away. They exist just as is, which pervades them with a mystical profundity without Cormac having to do much, I don't know how he pulls it off really. But to give it more than a four would be too much, it might grow, but it might also fizzle away without leaving much of a mark... Only time can tell.