The Counselor by Cormac McCarthy: Read It, Then Watch It

GREED is greatly overrated… BUT FEAR ISN’T

In early 2012 it was announced that Cormac McCarthy had written his first original screenplay – news which provoked huge excitement, a swift deal and the appointment of Ridley Scott to direct.

But this is no ordinary screenplay. This is a work of extraordinary imagination which draws on many of the themes of McCarthy’s work as well as taking it to new dark places. It is also written with great descriptive passages counteracting the dialogue, so the reader is given the full experience of the McCarthy prose.

It is the story of a lawyer, the Counselor, a man who is so seduced by the desire to get rich, to impress his fiancee Laura, that he becomes involved in a drug-smuggling venture that quickly takes him way out of his depth. His contacts in this are the mysterious and probably corrupt Reiner and the seductive Malkina, so exotic her pets of choice are two cheetahs. As the action crosses the Mexican border, things become darker, more violent and more sexually disturbing than the Counselor has ever imagined.

About the Author

Cormac McCarthy is the author of eleven acclaimed novels. Among his honours are the National Book Award, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Click here to buy The Counselor from Booktopia
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Click here to buy The Counselor from Booktopia
Australia’s Local Bookstore

First Trailer for Cormac McCarthy’s The Counselor

Ladies and Gentlemen, I warn you I may get a little fanboy up in here. Because the first trailer for Cormac McCarthy’s The Counselor, based on his screenplay, has arrived.

While this is McCarthy’s first screenplay, many of his books have been adapted into major films, the most notable being 2007’s No Country For Old Men, which snared the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Other novels adapted into films include The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen, and Billy Bob Thornton’s All The Pretty Horses.

Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson also appeared in a HBO production of McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited, a brilliant novel in dramatic form.

But The Counselor represents a huge leap into the film world for McCarthy, and with Ridley Scott directing a cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, methinks this film is going to be very, very special.


Andrew Cattanach on Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner – Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian. 

What does a book do if not evoke feelings you didn’t know you had, bring them to the surface and make you examine them like an errant jigsaw piece?

Before the brilliance of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Road, Cormac McCarthy shook the literature world with the stark, violent genius of Blood Meridian.

With his characteristically expansive prose and each page riddled with symbolism, McCarthy uses his protagonist The Kid, a teenage runaway in the mid 1800’s, as a canvas upon which we can splash our own feelings. Thoughts on the age old struggle of right and wrong in extraordinary circumstances and in a world where there is so much grey. His questions of the necessity of violence and force in times of need and want will have you talking long after you’ve put this remarkable work down.

The Kid is loosely based on the real life of Samuel Chamberlain who wrote a journal detailing his experiences riding with a company of Indian scalp hunters around the same time the novel is set. McCarthy researched the settings meticulously and many of the townships, houses and huts described in the novel still remain, dotting the US-Mexico border.

Blood Meridian also gave birth to one of the most infamous characters in literature in the 20th century, Judge Holden. Holden is described as being seven feet tall, and bereft of any innately human emotions other than joy at the sheer unadulterated anarchy he is able to conjure. Showing no remorse for many of the atrocities that The Kid witnesses day to day, Holden revels in much of the death and destruction that the border saw during the era of expansion. Tellingly, in 2002 Book magazine rated Holden as one of the 50 greatest characters in fiction since 1900.

Above all, the most memorable character in Blood Meridian is the epic, at times apocalyptic, landscape. McCarthy’s descriptions of the shimmering plains, the rugged sandy ranges and the bright night skies will simply take your breath away. Much of your time reading this novel will be spent with your eyes to the heavens, the book clutched to your chest as you slowly let the evocative majesty of his writing take shape in your mind before you can move on to the next passage. While McCarthy is a storyteller of the highest order, his rich prose is today virtually peerless and provides the vivid backdrop for this tense, harrowing story to unfold and ask questions of yourself that you never thought to ask, and perhaps didn’t want to.

With news upon us that McCarthy is currently well into his next novel, there is no better time to check out any of his collection.  And with Blood Meridian’, widely considered his opus, there’s no better place to start.

Click here to read all of Andrew’s Posts. Click here to follow Andrew on twitter.


Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West.

Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

‘McCarthy’s achievement is to establish a new mythology which is as potent and vivid as that of the movies, yet one which has absolutely the opposite effect …He is a great writer’ – “Independent”.

‘I have rarely encountered anything as powerful, as unsettling, or as memorable as Blood Meridian …A nightmare odyssey’ – “Evening Standard”.

‘His masterpiece …The book reads like a conflation of the “Inferno”, “The Iliad” and “Moby Dick”. I can only declare that “Blood Meridian” is unlike anything I have read in recent years, and seems to me an extraordinary, breathtaking achievement’ – John Banville.

Click here to buy a copy of Blood Meridian

Rosalie Ham, author of There Should be More Dancing, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rosalie Ham

author of  There Should be More Dancing, Summer at Mount Hope and The Dressmaker

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born and raised Jerilderie, NSW. Started my school life at Jerilderie Public, then for 2 years rode the bus 70 k’s a day to and from the nearest High School (Finley). For my final school years I left the vast plains and flat horizons for the rolling hills of Berwick, and St Margaret’s.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve I was cast in the school play and had a startlingly positive response to the applause. Consequently, I believed I was a brilliant actress, and this was confirmed for me when, aged ten, my father finally purchased a television and I saw my brilliance reflected in the heroines battling their tragedies of triumph and terror against treacherous backdrops in the Midday Movies. Television was denied us at boarding school, but there were books full of drama and light, and another school play.

At eighteen I still wanted to be an actress but I had to become a nurse because my father told me I needed to ‘get a ticket in life.’ Nursing’s basically the same things as acting anyway. Then I encountered real-life treachery and tragedy in the form of my first broken heart, but I found I wasn’t cut out to be a triumphant heroine, and fled overseas. Upon my (eventual) return I enrolled in drama school.

Consequently, at thirty I wanted to be a writer because four years at drama school taught me I didn’t have the voice, face, talent or ambitious ruthlessness required to become an actress, but I maintained a yearning for the triumph, tragedy and terror of story.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I strongly believed I was having a good time if I drank, smoked and sang loudly into empty beer bottles. I no longer believe that.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

There was never much art in Jerilderie but there was the struggle between life and death on the family farm, and there was a library. I remember The Bafut Beagles as being an exotic, informative and very engaging read when I was about thirteen.

And I saw great pathos in Cezanne’s landscapes. It looked to me as if he’d put a huge amount of sincere effort into them, yet they still seemed not quite finished.

Rural community activities – agricultural shows, football grand finals and ANZAC day marches – mean that even today, brass marching bands induce in me a swelling heart and tears of joy. But it was the extremes in my early childhood years, the proximity of the (sometimes cruel) life cycle, the desperation of back-lane cricket and the nefariousness of local adulterers that fed my yen for narrative. I passed a lot of time in the limitless, empty outdoors and I had to amuse myself, and all of these things fuelled my play-acting and the dramas I had going on in my imagination at any given time.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Timing and opportunity. The story was there, I had the time, and out it came.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel… There Should be More Dancing

My third novel is about the near triumph of Margery Blandon. She’s lived in Brunswick for 60 years and has a passion for cross-stitch, proverbs and her long-dead sister. Her eldest son is affably brain-damaged, her second son is a criminal and her daughter has weight problems that exacerbate her failing life. Margery’s neighbours are drug dealers and Margery herself might or might not be a murderess. Her life-long enemy – now demented – is the holder of the truth about everything. But Margery does have friends. Unfortunately, Margery doesn’t notice any of these things until it’s almost too late.

(BBGuru: Publisher’s synopsis –

Margery Blandon has led a life of principles. Now she finds herself sitting on the 43rd floor of the Tropic Hotel, preparing to throw herself to her death.

Margery Blandon was always a principled woman who found guidance from the wisdom of desktop calendars. She lived quietly in Gold Street, Brunswick for sixty years until events drove her to the 43rd floor of the Tropic Hotel. As she waits for the crowds in the atrium far below to disperse, she contemplates what went wrong; her best friend kept an astonishing secret from her and she can’t trust the home help. It¹s possible her firstborn son has betrayed her, that her second son, Morris, might have committed a crime, her only daughter is trying to kill her and her dead sister Cecily helped her to this, her final downfall. Even worse, it seems Margery¹s life-long neighbour and enemy ­ now demented ­ always knew the truth.

There Should be More Dancing is a story of Margery’s reckonings on loyalty, grief and love.)

Click here to order your copy.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I don’t mind, as long as they take something.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I admire a lot of writers, but not all of their books. But I will read anything David Malouf writes, anything Cormac McCarthy writes and everything Marilynne Robinson writes.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I’d like to be able to go on publishing a novel every three to five years until I can’t type any more.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Lots of similes don’t necessarily make to good writing.

Rosalie, thank you for playing.

Rebecca Lim, author of Mercy, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rebecca Lim,

author of Mercy,

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Singapore but raised and schooled in marvellous Melbourne, Australia. I speak a kind of terrible, pidgin Mandarin Chinese around my relatives, but I think and dream in English.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I wanted to be a picture book writer and would hand deliver wonkily-drawn picture book manuscripts to the Melbourne offices of imprints that have slowly disappeared from Australia over the years (remember Methuen, anybody?).

At eighteen, all I knew was that I didn’t want to study Medicine (partly because everyone thought that would be an excellent career choice) but I did want a job that revolved around ideas, words and writing. So I picked Continue reading

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road – book first, movie later

cormac_mccarthyHe is studied at universities, he is immortalised in a portrait at the National Portrait Gallery, there have been no less than four international conferences devoted to his oeuvre, and he makes a damn good read. Cormac McCarthy has been gathering fans for more than 30 years although it was Blood Meridian that placed him firmly amongst the cognoscenti of American writing. Followed soon by All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing and No Country for Old Men, to read a McCarthy is to commit to reading them all – frontier stuff, bleak, sparse and utterly unputdownable. Of course, it is The Road that has really tipped him into the pantheon of American icons and it is The Road that is being made, with a great deal of anticipation, into a movie that is going to be released later on this year. No doubt the McCarthy purists will quibble, but the trailer certainly captures that terrifying,  apocalyptic vision that has kept hundreds of thousands of readers huddled in corners.

9780330447546Check out the body of McCarthy’s work here.

The film-tie in version of The Road is coming out in December but you can certainly bone up on it now with this version. Of course, if you want to scare yourself silly with visual, watch the trailer below.


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