Friday, April 29, 2011

The Sunset Limited, by Cormac McCarthy

I've always wanted to read McCarthy's "The Road," but never felt emotionally ready to immerse myself in "bleak." On a recent stroll through Carmel's library, though, I spotted another McCarthy title: The Sunset Limited. And this one on audiotape!

In "The Sunset Limited" McCarthy pares the world down to the bare minimum -- two men, one room. That's it. The premise is simple enough: one of the men has just saved the other from throwing himself in front of the Sunset Limited train. The men, one white and one black, go by the names "White" and "Black." (Can't get more pared down than that!) The men are opposites in every way -- education, means and outlook on life. McCarthy gives his characters the perfect setup, a room that forcing these two men, embodiments of two diametrically opposed ideologies, to interact.

Just so we're clear here: "The Sunset Limited" really is a book in which two men sit in a room and discuss the meaning of life. How bleak is that? But don't sell it short, on those two slim discs, the story kept me intrigued until the very end. McCarthy wrote sparkling, compelling dialog that kept me riveted throughout, and left me pondering long after, and the actors displayed incredible skill at bringing the characters to life.

"The Sunset Limited" is the perfect "listen" for a two-hour road trip. Unfortunately, it's too nihilistic for the kids, so don't pop it in our CD player unless you're road tripping with adults.


  1. Wait. You come to the Carmel library without stopping by my house? Ask me to meet you next time!

  2. If only I could! I usually swing by to make use of my 45 minutes of limbo during a kid's violin lesson! (violin teacher lives 5 minutes south)

  3. Susan: The Sunset Limited was made into a movie on HBO with Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. It aired in February. They had interviews on NPR that might be of interest, too! I am a big Cormac McCarthy fan but haven't read this one. Amy K.