And that's an odd feeling, because there's no fence, and you know that after he gets tired of chasing marmots he's going to move in some other direction, which could be yours." Keeping a respectful distance from the rattlesnake, poking it with a stick, he coaxed it into the grass and drove off.
Two park rangers he met later that day seemed reluctant to discuss lethal vipers among the backpackers.
The vast blankness of the Southwest desert served as a metaphor for the nihilistic violence in his last novel, "Blood Meridian," published in 1985.
And this unpopulated, scuffed-up terrain again dominates the background in "All the Pretty Horses," which will appear next month from Knopf.
His characters are often outcasts -- destitute or criminals, or both.
Homeless or squatting in hovels without electricity, they scrape by in the backwoods of East Tennessee or on horseback in the dry, vacant spaces of the desert.
A page from any of his books -- minimally punctuated, without quotation marks, avoiding apostrophes, colons or semicolons -- has a stylized spareness that magnifies the force and precision of his words.
Unimaginable cruelty and the simplest things, the sound of a tap on a door, exist side by side, as in this typical passage from "Blood Meridian" on the unmourned death of a pack animal: "The following evening as they rode up onto the western rim they lost one of the mules.
A writer who renders the brutal actions of men in excruciating detail, seldom applying the anesthetic of psychology, Mc Carthy would much rather orate than confide.The earnest nature of the young characters and the lean, swift story, reminiscent of early Hemingway, should bring Mc Carthy a wider audience at the same time it secures his masculine mystique.But whatever it has lacked in thematic range, Mc Carthy's prose restores the terror and grandeur of the physical world with a biblical gravity that can shatter a reader.He has never taught or written journalism, given readings, blurbed a book, granted an interview.None of his novels have sold more than 5,000 copies in hardcover.