Cormac McCarthy’s New Books Excite San Antonio Literary Scene

San Antonio’s literary community, as well as the rest of the country, was quick to take notice with a massive number of pre-orders and ebook reservations for both novels.

“Cormac McCarthy has maintained his popularity and status as America’s most influential author for decades,” said Haley K. Holmes, acting administrator of library services at the San Antonio Public Library. “Clients at the San Antonio Public Library are clearly excited about his new novels, as evidenced by the numerous deductions placed on titles. The passenger and Stella Maris before we even have them on our shelves. McCarthy fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of a new novel for The road (2006), and have a rare opportunity to take advantage of two new publications released a month and a half apart.

But since it’s been so long, here’s a refresher on who Cormac McCarthy is before he gets his hands on his latest book.


McCarthy was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 20, 1933, but grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. He spent time at the University of Tennessee but never graduated, dropping out twice with a stint in the US Air Force in between.

As a writer, McCarthy primarily wrote in the Southern Gothic genre, publishing The guardian of the orchard (1965), dark outside (1968), God’s Son (1973), and Suttree (1979) in settings inspired by his life in Tennessee and Appalachia.

McCarthy moved to El Paso in the 1970s and in 1985 wrote his first novel about the American West with blood meridian. The story that follows “the kid” and his experiences with the Glanton gang. The Glanton Gang was a historic group of scalp hunters who massacred Native Americans along the US-Mexico border from 1849 to 1850.

The book’s violence drew mixed reactions when it was released, but blood meridian has since been labeled by some as the great American novel.


McCarthy moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1990s, but in 1992 he had his biggest hit yet. His novel All the pretty horses won the National Book Award, sharing a fictionalized story of two Texans traveling from San Angelo and traveling through Mexico.

All the pretty horses was the first of The Border Trilogy, which together with The passage (1994) and Plain towns (1998) complete a coming-of-age story of two young cowboys as they travel through Mexico and the Southwestern United States.

“Cormac McCarthy is Rhode Island’s finest Texan novelist,” The Twig Book Shop said in a MySA statement. “As William Faulkner did with Yoknapatawpha County, McCarthy’s portrayal of the Southwest became a character in his novels. His books offer a dark, funny, lyrical, and badass take on the Southwest and those who live there.”

His next book, There is no country for old people (2005), about the hunt for drug money gone wrong in West Texas, was adapted into the 2007 Academy Award-winning film of the same name.

‘No Country for Old Men’, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy, won four Oscars in 2008. Javier Bardem won Best Supporting Actor.

McCarthy’s most recent book until the publication of The passenger, The road (2006), tells the story of a father and son as they try to survive cannibals in a post-apocalyptic setting. The road was critically acclaimed and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. But after The roadMcCarthy paused.

Between the years

McCarthy was notoriously reclusive. Not quite JD Salinger’s level, but he’s maintained a private life. McCarthy rarely accepted requests for interviews; Oprah had to travel to Santa Fe for an interview with him.

In the meantime, McCarthy has established himself as the only writer-in-residence at the Santa Fe Institute. Its website includes an Associated Press quote describing it as a place “born out of a fervent wish among a wide range of scientists that one day they might work together on some of the world’s seemingly intractable problems.”

A shelf full of books, including

A shelf filled with books, including ‘staff picks’ by Cormac McCarthy, at City Lights Bookstore, an independent bookstore founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin in San Francisco.

Robert Alexandre/Getty Images

Separated from the writing community and surrounded by scientists, McCarthy wrote his first non-fiction article investigating the unconscious and its separation from human language. To many, it looked like McCarthy would be content to stay within that framework, until in 2015 he announced his next book, The passenger.

“The publication of two new novels by Cormac McCarthy after such a long wait is a huge event for fans of McCarthy and literary fiction,” said Elizabeth Jordan, director of Nowhere Bookshop. “He is rightly regularly mentioned as a potential Nobel laureate. Much of his writing career has attempted to capture the isolation and disillusionment of the American West and many of his works are set in and around El Paso. Fans have been waiting years to read something new from this great American writer and now they’re getting two new books this year alone. We had fans waiting outside our door when we opened Tuesday morning (October 25) and we’re excited to see the response to the second book in early December.

The passenger and Stella Maris follow siblings Bobby and Alicia Western, two characters who grew up in conflict with their father’s contributions to the atomic bomb. While most of McCarthy’s earlier work has examined the myth of America, these latest books interrogate “what it means to exist and what our history tells us about our future”.

It is still too early to judge the critical success of McCarthy’s latest books, but the mere fact that they are published is remarkable. With McCarthy turning 89 last July, these could very well be the last two books of his career. For now, the people of San Anton are eager to read his final words.

Readers can borrow digital copies of McCarthy’s works and reserve physical copies from the San Antonio Public Library using this link.

About Herbert L. Leonard

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