ONE of the least likely success stories in recent years is the rise of Cormac McCarthy -- the reclusive, thesaurus-clutching author of unfashionable, hyper-violent Southern Gothic, who became the equally reclusive author of unfashionable Western novels of cowboy-myth.
But with "All the Pretty Horses," McCarthy became a literary superstar, with the critical and cinematic success of "No Country For Old Men" he became canonized in the academy, and with "The Road" he becomes one of the hottest properties in Hollywood.
Here is my LATimes story, which runs Sunday. I spoke to a UCLA scholar, the screenwriter and producer of "The Road," and Billy Bob Thornton, who directed the first McCarthy adaptation and wishes the world could see the film the way he shot it.
Screenwriter Joe Penhall, a playwright and former music journalist, was especially eloquent, talking about the novel's similarities to "Waiting for Godot," his interest in expanding the role of the wife/mother character, and the resonance between McCarthy's vision of the wilderness with the Australian tradition. (Both he and director John Hillcoat grew up there.)
"It's all about the elements, the landscape and pioneering endeavors," Penhall told me of McCarthy's work. "And man's endless struggle with the landscape, what it does to his psyche and his corporal existence. It's part of both nation's [Australia, U.S] mythologies. The countryside in Britain is the bosom, where you run in times of danger." In the American and Aussie tradition, "it's a place of tremendous, danger, despair and challenge."
For an experience of danger, despair and challenge, check out what they did with "The Road," which opens next Wednesday and which I found powerful and harrowing.