Cormac McCarthy books in order
Cormac McCarthy is an American playwright, screenwriter, and award-winning author of southern gothic, western fiction and post-apocalyptic novels.
Born in 1933 in Providence, Rhode Island, he attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville but dropped out and enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served between 1953 and 1956.
Readers first discovered his unique writing style in 1965 when he made his debut as a novelist with the standalone, The Orchard Keeper.
The recipient of a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, McCarthy’s most notable works include Child of God (1973), All the Pretty Horses (1992), No Country for Old Men (2005), The Road (2006) and The Counselor (2013); all of which have received film adaptations.
Although there have been several hoaxes about his death over the years, Cormac McCarthy, who has been divorced thrice, continues to live a quiet and private life.
Genres: Fantasy / SF, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Southern Fiction, Western
- The Orchard Keeper (1965)
- Outer Dark (1968)
- Child of God (1973)
- Suttree (1979)
- Blood Meridian: Or, the Evening Redness in the West (1985)
- No Country for Old Men (2005)
- The Road (2006)
- All the Pretty Horses (1992)
- The Crossing (1994)
- Cities of the Plain (1998)
- The Passenger (2022)
- Stella Maris (2022)
- The Sunset Limited (2006)
- The Stonemason (1994)
- The Gardener's Son (1996)
- The Counselor (2013)
Detailed book overview
The boy, John Wesley Rattner, and the outlaw, Marion Sylder–together with Rattner's Uncle Ather, who belongs to a former age in his communion with nature and his stoic independence–enact a drama that seems born of the land itself. All three are heroes of an intense and compelling celebration of values lost to time and industrialization.
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.
Lester Ballard - a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape - haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail. While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.
Director: James Franco
Cast: Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Jim Parrack, Nina Ljeti, Brian Lally
Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.
The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones. One day, a good old boy named Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a bodyguard of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law—in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell—can contain.
As Moss tries to evade his pursuers—in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives—McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines.
Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Garret Dillahunt, Tess Harper, Barry Corbin, Stephen Root, Rodger Boyce
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
Director: John Hillcoat
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Molly Parker, Michael Kenneth Williams, Garret Dillahunt, Charlize Theron, Bob Jennings
Set in the late 1940s, this novel features the travels and toils of a 16-year-old East Texan named John Grady Cole, caught in the agonizing purgatory between adolescence and adulthood.
At the start of the novel, Cole's grandfather has just died, his parents have permanently separated, and the family ranch, upon which he had placed so many boyish hopes, has been sold. Rootless and increasingly restive, Cole leaves Texas, accompanied by his friend Lacey Rawlins, and begins a journey across the vaquero frontier into the badlands of northern Mexico.
Director: Billy Bob Thornton
Cast: Matt Damon, Henry Thomas, Penélope Cruz, Angelina Torres, J.D. Young, Laura Poe, Sam Shepard, Robert Patrick, Lucas Black
In the late 1930s, sixteen-year-old Billy Parham captures a she-wolf that has been marauding his family's ranch. But instead of killing it, he decides to take it back to the mountains of Mexico. With that crossing, he begins an arduous and often dreamlike journey into a country where men meet ghosts and violence strikes as suddenly as heat-lightning--a world where there is no order "save that which death has put there."
The setting is New Mexico in 1952, where John Grady Cole and Billy Parham are working as ranch hands. To the North lie the proving grounds of Alamogordo; to the South, the twin cities of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. Their life is made up of trail drives and horse auctions and stories told by campfire light. It is a life that is about to change forever, and John Grady and Billy both know it.
The catalyst for that change appears in the form of a beautiful, ill-starred Mexican prostitute. When John Grady falls in love, Billy agrees—against his better judgment—to help him rescue the girl from her suavely brutal pimp. The ensuing events resonate with the violence and inevitability of classic tragedy.
1980, PASS CHRISTIAN, MISSISSIPPI: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips the jacket of his wet suit and plunges from the Coast Guard tender into darkness.
His dive light illuminates the sunken jet, nine bodies still buckled in their seats, hair floating, eyes devoid of speculation. Missing from the crash site are the pilot’s flight bag, the plane’s black box, and the tenth passenger. But how?
A collateral witness to machinations that can only bring him harm, Western is shadowed in body and spirit—by men with badges; by the ghost of his father, inventor of the bomb that melted glass and flesh in Hiroshima; and by his sister, the love and ruin of his soul.
1972, BLACK RIVER FALLS, WISCONSIN: Alicia Western, twenty years old, with forty thousand dollars in a plastic bag, admits herself to the hospital. A doctoral candidate in mathematics at the University of Chicago, Alicia has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and she does not want to talk about her brother, Bobby.
Instead, she contemplates the nature of madness, the human insistence on one common experience of the world; she recalls a childhood where, by the age of seven, her own grandmother feared for her; she surveys the intersection of physics and philosophy; and she introduces her cohorts, her chimeras, the hallucinations that only she can see. All the while, she grieves for Bobby, not quite dead, not quite hers.
In that small apartment, “Black” and “White,” as the two men are known, begin a conversation that leads each back through his own history, mining the origins of two fundamentally opposing world views.
White is a professor whose seemingly enviable existence of relative ease has left him nonetheless in despair. Black, an ex-con and ex-addict, is the more hopeful of the men–though he is just as desperate to convince White of the power of faith as White is desperate to deny it.
Their aim is no less than this: to discover the meaning of life.
The setting is Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1970s. The Telfairs are stonemasons and have been for generations. Ben Telfair has given up his education to apprentice himself to his grandfather, Papaw, a man who knows that "true masonry is not held together by cement but...by the warp of the world."
Out of the love that binds these two men and the gulf that separates them from the Telfairs who have forsaken—or dishonored—the family trade, Cormac McCarthy has crafted a drama that bears all the hallmarks of his great fiction: precise observation of the physical world; language that has the bite of common speech and the force of Biblical prose; and a breathtaking command of the art of storytelling.
Set in Graniteville, South Carolina, The Gardener’s Son is a tale of privilege and hardship, animosity and vengeance brought to life through two families: the Greggs, the wealthy owners of a cotton mill, and their employees the McEvoys, a father and son beset by misfortune.
After Robert McEvoy loses his leg in an accident—rumored to have been caused by his nemesis James Gregg, the son of the mill’s founder—the angry and bitter young man deserts his job and family.
Two years later, Robert returns. His mother is dying, and his father, the mill’s gardener, is confined indoors working the factory line. These intertwined events stoke the slow burning rage McEvoy has long carried, a fury that erupts in a terrible act of violence that ultimately consumes the Gregg family and his own.
Along the gritty terrain of the Texas–Mexico border, a respected and recently engaged lawyer throws his stakes into a cocaine trade worth millions. His hope is that it will be a one-time deal and that, afterward, he can settle into life with his beloved fiancée.
But instead, the Counselor finds himself mired in a brutal and dangerous game—one that threatens to destroy everything and everyone he loves. Deft, shocking, and unforgettable, McCarthy is at his finest in this gripping tale about risk, consequence, and the treacherous balance between the two.
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Chris Obi, Bruno Ganz, Daniel Holguín, Richard Cabral, Brad Pitt