Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Sunset Limited - Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy's play starts before the pages and his writing. A Professor ( identified as White here) is rescued by am ex-convict now on the path of God ( identified as Black), from jumping in front of a speeding train. White is brought to the apartment of Black and he attempt to dissuade him from committing the sin of suicide trying to win him over with his arguments.

White, a propagator of meaninglessness in the life. Margining towards the 'existentialist sympathies, he don't see any reason in living which leaves him in despair. Black on the other hand seems to have gone through this and rediscovered faith. An ex-convict, spent time in jail for murder, now spent his time on the ways of God ( a change from the hospital bed, at the verge of loosing his life). Black is convinced that it was that God who got him there and rescued the White from the mouth of death. He believes that its his duty to save White. He is trying to convince White on the power of God as much as White is trying to deny the existence of the same.

The book is a triumph of beautiful word play. Simple and short sentences , yet profound and intelligent. The poise and control over the flow and the artificially created tussle between two forces trying to convince one another with some clever writing. May be this artificiality plays against the book overpowering the creativity of the writer.

There are a lot of possible quotes like this one, mostly from the intellect of White, rather forced many a times.
"I yearn for the darkness. I pray for death. Real death. If I thought that in death I would meet the people I've known in life I don't know what I'd do. That would be the ultimate horror. The ultimate despair. If I had to meet my mother again and start all of that all over, only this time without the prospect of death to look forward to? Well. That would be the final nightmare"
At times they were mere words gets to you as very superficial and meaningless. Unless they are intended to covey the hollowness of the Professor. So, is the Christian spirituality from the mouth of Black. "Do you really think your Jesus is here in this room" , "No I don't think he is in this room" "You don't" " I know he is in this room" kind of writing, for example.

I am not sure if this can be considered a major play. Here more than the plot and the dramatical incidents, the dialog seems to be important. Its the words that control the progression. Hence from a traditional 'play' to be staged, this is different. The books says a novel in dramatic form. Even there, one can not draw comparison to "Kiss of the Spiderwoman" by Manuel Puig, where a similar attempt was done to a much better effect. But the other typical qualities of a play, the constant tense atmosphere, the attempt to provoke the reader at every point, the unusual responses we see in the absurdist plays, the minimalism, the silences are pretty good . What is also good about this book is the deliberation and dual between two forces. The duality of believes, of social and intelligent levels ( which often shifts places as the play progresses) and the indicative colors of Black and White, the use of accent and the words.
The Sunset Limited ( 2006 )

Cormac McCarthy


143 Pages
Wiki Entry, The Telegraph

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