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  • Just like you, Cormac McCarthy procrastinates; unlike you, he does it by writing a screenplay

Just like you, Cormac McCarthy procrastinates; unlike you, he does it by writing a screenplay

See the man. He is talented and celebrated, he writes celebrated and prize-winning novels. He stokes the slow publishing news day. He – wait, before I continue, everyone’s read Blood Meridian, right? No? Oh. Then I’d better stop rewriting it. And you should probably stop reading this and go read that instead.

Anyway, Cormac McCarthy, author of said novel – one of the great American novels of the 20th century – has made it known to his literary agents that he’s been distracted whilst penning his latest book. Unlike the rest of the world, however, this does not now mean his kitchen is alphabetised, or that he’s got a pretty good idea of what his Desert Island Discs would be but still can’t settle on his luxury item, or that he’s finally settled on a cover photo for his Facebook timeline that, you know, really represents who he is. This is Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary colossus, and his idea of killing time is to churn out a screenplay then see afterwards if anyone might be interested in filming it.

Obviously, anyone’s answer is ‘oh God yes’. The Counselor, the resultant script, has since been picked up by the team of producers responsible for John Hillcoat’s 2009 adaptation of the novel that won McCarthy his Pulitzer, post-apocalyptic father-son cannibal-dodging jaunt The Road.

Though not McCarthy’s first attempt at writing for the screen – he wrote an episode of late 70s anthology TV series Visions, and reputedly wrote No Country For Old Men as a screenplay before turning it into the novel that became the basis for the Coen Brothers’ rightly heralded cinematic adaptation – it is his first effort that stands alone as a piece, independent of an accompanying novel or surrounding TV show. So that’s pretty exciting.

Where this leaves the long-delayed adaptation of Blood Meridian, that last anyone heard was in the hands of walking performance art installation James Franco, is unclear. If nothing else, it should doubly motivate whichever poor screenwriter has been tasked with translating McCarthy’s opus from print to screen – now the competition isn’t just the fairly high standard of prior McCarthy adaptations: it’s the man himself.

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Chris Ward

Chris Ward

Chris Ward writes and says things about books and music and films and what have you, even when no one is reading or listening.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.

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