In the Country of “No Country for Old Men” and On the Trail of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian”: What I Did for My Summer Vacation

So late July found me (and my family) in (mythical) Cormac McCarthy country, at the Three River Petroglyph site near Three Rivers, New Mexico, which is a cool (and hot) place to be. We camped there for three days, watching thunderstorms that evoked these lines from McCarthy’s Blood Meridian: “All night sheetlightning quaked sourceless to the west beyond the midnight thunderheads, making a bluish day of the distant desert, the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order out there whose true geology was not stone but fear” (47).

The petroglyphs are impressive. On a hot afternoon, we hiked along a ridge above the plains or “malpais,” which figures directly in Blood Meridian, and the petroglyphs (or some of them, at least) are believed to have been made by the Jornada Mogollon people a thousand years ago. Animal figures predominate, as this example of a raven and a Bighorn sheep attest, complete with arrows in the sheep:

Next week I’ll be giving a lecture at the Cormac McCarthy Society’s annual convention, on a comparison of Cormac McCarthy’s and Leo Tolstoy’s views of history, so in a way you could argue I was doing research.


About williamjcobb

William J. Cobb is a novelist, essayist, and short fiction writer whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The Mississippi Review, The Antioch Review, and many others. He’s the author of two novels—The Fire Eaters (W.W. Norton 1994) and Goodnight, Texas (Unbridled 2006)—and a book of stories, The White Tattoo (Ohio State UP 2002). He has reviewed books for the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and the New York Times. He lives in Pennsylvania and Colorado. He may be contacted at wjcobb@gmail.com.
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