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stereotypes unlimited?


Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited is a short conversation about living and dying, a musing on meaning or the lack of it. It’s a “novel in dramatic form,” so dialog makes up almost all the book; but, characteristically, the prose is sharp and clean in ways almost no real life talking is, the discussion punctuated by pauses and thoughts left unsaid as every real conversation is. The story holds the power I’ve come to expect from McCarthy and he arrives at his usual conclusion (which I leave you to decide). Nevertheless, questions remain: is the use of a black man to represent countrified, god-fearing, homespun, school-of-life wisdom as opposed to a white man’s intellectualized, book-learned, philosophy of life anything better than a rehash of several tired stereotypes? Or is he trying to say something about perceived relationships among race, class, religion, education, and happiness?


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