Outer Dark

Outer Dark

by Cormac McCarthy

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Outer Dark is a novel at once fabular and starkly evocative, set is an unspecified place in Appalachia, sometime around the turn of the century.  A woman bears her brother's child, a boy; he leaves the baby in the woods and tells her he died of natural causes.  Discovering her brother's lie, she sets forth alone to find her son.  Both brother and sister wander separately through a countryside being scourged by three terrifying and elusive strangers, headlong toward an eerie, apocalyptic resolution.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307762498
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/11/2010
Series: Vintage International
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 125,577
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in1933 and spent most of his childhood near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later studied at the University of Tennessee. In 1976 he moved to El Paso, Texas, where he lives today.  McCarthy's fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West--the first four novels being set in Tennessee, the last three in the Southwest and Mexico. The Orchard Keeper (1965) won the Faulkner Award for a first novel; it was followed by Outer Dark (1968),  Child of God (1973), Suttree (1979), Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award for fiction in 1992, and The Crossing.

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The Outer Dark 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As McCarthy's books seem to be, depressing as all heck. This book was a page turner, I am glad I read it but it left me with such a feeling of dispair. The book's dialect was hard to read at first but once you get the hang of it the pages turn faster and faster. End result is a excellent book but again, it is not a hopeful or peaceful happy book. It is typical McCarthy. But again, I keep thinking about this book though I read it a month ago. Which would tell me it was worth the read and worth the price of the book. Just put these books in the middle of the good books with happy endings so you don't totally depress yourself. I recommend this book because after reading one will be THANKFUL for what they have and THANKFUL they did not grow up with the same issues.
Guest More than 1 year ago
McCarthy gets flack for description, but this is a novel of 'outer' landscapes. It is refreshing, at least for me, to read a novel that isn't consumed with psychological realism, and that is more concerned with painting a landscape and fully peopling it. Imagine a handful of Chaucer's pilgrims gone mad--if they weren't already--and lost in Appalachia. Then, throw in a trio of ravaging maniacs who roam the wilds and threaten all in their path. The book's story-arc is straight-forward and easy to follow. There are no flashbacks here, probably because, as Culla and Rinthy continually tell us, there is nothing to flashback to. A very enjoyable and quick read that serves as a precursor, in theme, imagery, and character, to Blood Meridian.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cormac McCarthy's Outer Dark is a beautiful, yet chilling novel. This haunting tale of two outsiders wandering the woods, one searching for her child and the other searching for his sister, hooked me from the first sentence. A gorgeous novel that is so much more than a 'western.'
giovannigf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Southern Gothic taken to such an extreme that it almost becomes camp. Very enjoyable.
fuzzy_patters on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It appears that McCarthy was really trying to channel William Faulkner in Outer Dark. His portrayal of American Appalachia is very reminiscent of Faulkner's portrayal of the American south, and the meandering pace and lack of punctuation leave Outer Dark feeling like a sureal dream on a sweaty, summer night. What is the story about? I am not completely sure, actually. It is equal parts biblical symbolism and American folkism. At its heart, it is a story about a woman looking for her baby, and a brother looking for the woman. Deeply intense and engageing, it is a quick page turner and well worth reading.
KatharineDB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Southern Gothic - almost. Wasnt that shocking or frightening- held my interest but rather disapointing
bibliophile26 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I noticed McCarthy has come up on a lot of people's booklists. Anyone care to explain to me the point of this book or the ending (which I reread several times and yet failed to understand)? Plot summary is a brother and sister produce a child (of incest) and brother takes child and tells sister that child died. Sister decides to search for the child and brother trys to find sister (?). I found this book frustratingly strange and will probably not seek out any of the author's other books.
michaelmurphy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Cormac McCarthy's early novels, set in a rural landscape somewhere in a pre-modern Appalachia, "The Outer Dark" is a dark disturbing story about Rinthy Holme's search for her lost baby, the product of an incestuous union with her brother Culla, who unknown to Rinthy, has abandoned the baby deep in the woods, telling Rinthy he died. The child, left to die, survives, rescued by a tinker. There's no great depth - or twists - of plot in "The Outer Dark". Rather than plot-driven, the narrative cross-cuts intermittently between two separate journeys made by brother and sister - a structure that allows McCarthy scope at once to describe Rinthy (in search of lost child on discovery of Culla's lie) and Culla's wanderings in the landscape they pass through and the mixed-bag of eccentric, grotesque characters they encounter on their travels. "The Outer Dark" is about a landscape and the people who inhabit it. Colourful set-pieces involving Rinthy and Culla, in encounters and 'run-ins' with crusty 'locals' - and cranky backwoods southerners often living in squalor in dilapidated shacks and isolated cabins deep in the woods - who cross their separate paths, are interspersed with sharp dialogue and sardonic wit. A dark mood pervades this Southern Gothic novel. An early scene - where Culla flees the scene of his evil act, careering through the dark depths of the forest in full flight, hands outstretched before him "against whatever the dark might hold" - is heavy with portent, as if something dreadful, some unseen malevolent presence were about. For Culla, whatever the 'dark' might hold, remains to be seen. And that sense of ominous foreboding continues through much of 'The Outer Dark'. Out of the 'dark' too, like outcasts straight from Hell, the coming of three terrifying figures roaming the land with murderous intent, manifested in the shock-horror violence of a gruesome, disturbing climax. Welcome to Cormac McCarthy Country! Incest! Cannibalism! Shock-horror violence! Not for the squeamish. Too much perhaps for the faint-of-heart to endure? Okay, McCarthy's style of writing may not be to everyone's taste. But if you enjoy the chilling walk through the 'dark' woods of "The Outer Dark", book up for another trip into McCarthy country with "Child of God" or "The Orchard Keeper". And with echoes of 'McCarthy Country', Castle Freeman's gripping short novel "Go With Me" takes the reader on a suspenseful mystery ride, tense with foreboding, deep into the bleak backwoods of Vermont. Good reading!
knittingfreak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure exactly where to start with this one. I can't really say that I enjoyed this book. I really thought I would from the blurb on the back of the book, but it wasn't to be. I haven't read anything else by McCarthy so I don't know if this is typical of his writing or not. If it is, I probably won't be reading any more of his work. The story is about a young woman who has her brother's baby. There's no background information to explain how they came to be alone or why they're living in this remote cabin in the middle of nowhere. The reader isn't told whether the brother rapes his sister or whether she consents to sex with him. All this happens before the story begins. He's afraid that someone will find out about their secret and so he won't call anyone to help her when the time comes to deliver the baby. In reality, I don't think he wanted anyone to be there to witness what he does. After his sister falls asleep, he takes the baby and leaves him in the woods and tells her that the baby died. She soon discovers his lie. While she spends the rest of the book looking for her son, her brother is searching for her. I'm not squeamish, but I could see how some people would find this book more than a little disturbing. There is quite a bit of senseless violence without any redemption. Don't worry about spoilers with this one -- because there really is no plot. Like I said, this one is hard to describe.
tibobi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is about a brother, his sister and her baby which is left to die in the forest. The sister goes in search of the baby and her brother heads out after her to find her and bring her back. Along the way, they meet people from all walks of life..some kind, some not so kind. Once again, Cormac McCarthy paints a grim tale of human suffering. Although this is not the kind of book you enjoy reading, I find it staying with me as The Road did. There is one scene in the book that I felt could have been left out.. but now that I have read some of his other books I am beginning to think it is a theme to inlcude such subject matter
carrieprice78 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this. The story was very sparse, and of course, as with all Cormac McCarthy novels, prepare to be depressed. There ain't a one person who is nice to another in all the world, it seems, and this story is no different. He nailed the Appalachian dialect. Reading the dialogue was a real treat, and not cumbersome in the least.The story was spare and Gothic, but I'm not sure what I mean by that. Other reviews have said it's a classic Western set in the Appalachians, but I don't figure I'm familiar enough with the Western genre to say that. There wasn't much in the way of character development, but that's okay. The thrill in reading this story is more situational. The landscapes are painted beautifully, and most of the people are creepy and mean spirited. There were a few things I didn't quite understand in this edition--most chapters had a mini-chapter in italics in between, just a page or two long. Most of the time they made sense in the context of one or another of the story lines, but one or two left me wondering exactly what had happened.To tell you just how engrossing this novel was: I usually pick up a number of books in any given week and start reading, put it down, read little bits, switch books. What I mean to say is I don't currently have the attention span to finish novels, but I read the first page of this and pretty much read it until it was over. The first few paragraphs make it impossible to put down.
gonzobrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Though short in length, Outer Dark is a deep and lengthy exposition on the antiquated and rural American experience. McCarthy skillfully frays and interweaves a set of storylines occurring around the turn of the 20th century, though since it takes place in an isolated and unnamed countryside, it may as well be placed in the 19th century.The story is based around the familial dissolution between Culla Holme and his sister Rinthy. Living together in rural isolation and upon the birth of her child, her brother promptly discards her child in the wilderness and sets out on an aimless sojourn for sustenance and perhaps a new set of boots; while awakened with the loss of her family, Rinthy resolves to set out and reclaim her child. Interspersed between each character's quest is the inclusion of a band of marauding malevolence influencing the travels of each.Progressing through the Cormac McCarthy oeuvre, I've come to notice certain undeniable recurrences: aimless and intentionally underdeveloped characters, no quotation marks, sparse yet colorful dialogue, dusty and nearly-deserted roads serving as the vehicle of the story, and a healthy dose of depravity. None remains lacking here.I contend that McCarthy is just as much a writer of horror as he is of high literature in the Faulknerian tradition asserted by so many others. Outer Dark is not just a story about incest or poverty, but rather like Blood Meridian or No Country for Old Men, it's about the pervasive lack of morality or injustice and the whimsical brutality so inherent to humankind. It's about cannibalism, both metaphorical and literal; it's about the people who are "takers", those who are able to possess or consume others; and in McCarthy's world, the consequences are never assumed for anyone's actions.Outer Dark is much starker than McCarthy's The Road, as it establishes a post-apocalyptic environment without the fireworks or even hint of a catastrophic event. Quite simply, it isn't needed. In that respect, it's much more powerful and disturbing; its conclusion is the antithesis to that in The Road.
NativeRoses on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As usual, sentence by sentence, Cormac McCarthy writes surprising, penetrating, beautiful prose. Outer Dark's tragedies are seen through the eyes of cowboys, woodsmen, moonshiners, snake hunters and others who live in poverty to the rhythm of the seasons. We see morning glories climbing a fence next to a starving girl and hear the ruminations of serial killers as 19 year old Rinthy Holme wanders barefoot and hungry searching for her stolen baby through a dangerous landscape. Highly recommended.
ocgreg34 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a rundown cabin, perhaps in the forest or in the mountains, Rinthy Holme gives birth to a boy. Her brother Culla should be happy, but instead tells Rinthy that the child died and takes him -- his own son -- into the forest and leaves him on a tree stump. When Rinthy learns of Culla's deceit, she packs up her few belongings and runs away, determined to find her son and the tinker who she believes took him. Culla returns home from a day out hunting for work and finds Rinthy gone. So he sets out on his own quest to find her. As each sibling travels through the many counties, a dark trio of men wreaks havoc on the same countryside, heading toward a confrontation with the brother and sister.As with all McCarthy's books that I've read so far, he has an interesting way with language that makes a character's voice seem real and down to earth, giving them a time and a place, such as with the dialect that the Holmes' and the men and the people they encounter. And you believe those characters. Couple that with his descriptions of the countryside or towns or the people themselves, and you can clearly imagine the harsh landscape, with rutted roads and dilapidated buildings.However, I only somewhat enjoyed the story of Culla and Rinthy traveling their different ways through the towns. While it was clear that Rinthy searched for her son and the tinker, Culla's journey seems to be consumed with looking for work rather than finding his sister, though ostensibly that's why he's roaming the countryside. As for the dark trio, I wasn't quite sure of their role in this, either. Why were they terrorizing the countryside? Why did they seem to know so much about Culla and what he did to Rinthy? I felt as though some piece of the puzzle were missing that would have made their actions more logical to the story.
ncnsstnt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Possibly one of the most depressing, depraved books ever written.
Bridgey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Where do I start?....This is Cormacs second novel and starts as dark as it continues. A brother and sister father a child. The brother tells her the child has died, but actually leaves it to perish in the forest. The lie is found out and the sister goes in search of the childs whereabouts. In turn the brother follows to find the sister....Along each siblings journey they encounter various characters and ways of life.As with all of mcarthys works don't expect anyone to have a good time or be particularly joyous. His usual desolate descriptive prose cuts right through to the bone. A little hard to follow at times, but it is always worth the effort.Cormac Mcarthy is an amazing writer and one that I can see being studied for generations to come
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book takes some thought and a willingness to look at characters you want nothing to do with, but in the end the experience of reading engulfes you. McCarthy's writing style does take some getting used to (fair warning), but it comes in line with haunting passages and mysterious characters that you'll never forget. My advice is to go in with an open and willing mind, and don't ignore the implications of any of the subjects, since it all comes together beautifully into a memorable story that you'll be considering for days after, scenes included. Certainly not recommendable for immature readers, though.
TeRuJi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book. But, if you like endings that wrap everything up nicely and leave you feeling satisfied that all questions have been answered, then this book is not for you. McCarthy takes you on a fun ride in the process.
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.Set in the mythical southern Appalachia of Faulkner, this novel is sparse and stark. It follows an incestuous brother and sister. She bears his child; he abandons it to the elements. The baby is taken by a passing tinker. She sets out to find the baby. The brother sets out to find her. Along the way they encounter good and evil in many forms. Look for no happy ending here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the darkest of McCarthy's Apalachian novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have been a fan of Cormac McCartys writing for decades. Loved this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read,tragic