Award-winning author Cormac McCarthy dead at age 89

June 14, 2023
Ben Marquis

Legendary American author Cormac McCarthy, whose books often painted a beautiful if grim portrait of the Old West and the southern border region, has passed away at the age of 89, according to Breitbart.

He is reported to have died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Tuesday, per his publisher, Knopf, though no cause of death was given.

Bleak and beautiful

The Associated Press reported that McCarthy was raised in poverty in the Knoxville, Tennessee area, and briefly attended the University of Tennessee before dropping out to join the U.S. Air Force in 1953, only to then return to the university following his service but then drop out again prior to earning a degree.

He continued to reside in the Great Smoky Mountains region for a time before moving out West in the 1970s, eventually making Santa Fe his final home.

McCarthy's many books, per the AP, "often were bleak and violent and dramatized how the past overwhelmed the present. Across stark and forbidding landscapes and rundown border communities, he placed drifters, thieves, prostitutes and old, broken men, all unable to escape fates determined for them well before they were born."

That holds true whether his books were set in the past, such as "Blood Meridian," in the current era, such as "No Country for Old Men," or in an apocalyptic future, such as "The Road."

Critically-acclaimed award winner

The AP reported that McCarthy, around the age of 60, finally became publicly known and widely acclaimed following the release of "All the Pretty Horses" in 1992, after which he would go on to be honored with a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, be featured on Oprah Winfrey's show and in her book claim, and see several of his books be transformed into critically-acclaimed films.

In fact, "No Country for Old Men," which was adapted into a screenplay by Hollywood's famed Coen brothers, would win an Oscar in 2008, while a film adaptation of "All the Pretty Horses" was a 2001 Oscar nominee.

It was "The Road," which follows a father and son as they travel the post-apocalyptic American Southwest, that earned McCarthy his Pulitzer Prize in 2007 and the attention of Winfrey and her audience.

According to McCarthy's IMDb page, he was credited as a writer on eight films or TV series, including full-length adaptations of his novels "All the Pretty Horses," "No Country for Old Men," "The Road," and "Child of God," as well as a short film of his novel "Outer Dark," among others.

Another film adaptation in the works

Deadline reported that a project is already in the works on a film adaptation of McCarthy's novel "Blood Meridian," which features a young boy from Tennessee plunged into the "violence and depravity" of the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s.

The outlet noted that several prior attempts to adapt that particular book have failed, but is now in the hands of director John Hillcoat, who directed the adaptation of "The Road."

Interestingly enough, McCarthy once revealed in an interview that "No Country for Old Men" had originally been written as a screenplay, but he couldn't find anyone to produce it so he rewrote it as a novel -- only to then find the Coen brothers who seemingly shared his original vision for the story.

The AP noted that an extensive archive of McCarthy's work -- "including correspondence, notes, drafts, proofs of 11 novels, a draft of an unfinished novel and materials related to a play and four screenplays" -- were purchased in 2008 by the Southwestern Writers Collection based at Texas State University-San Marcos, and hopefully, some of those works will be published or adapted into films as well.

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