Birthdays and the occasional comma / by Matthew Thompson

I believe in periods and capitals and the occasional comma. - Cormac McCarthy


Here's to Cormac McCarthy. A man who today turns 79 and whose books burn the way Paradise Lost burns: "As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames no light, but rather darkness visible."

And they are dancing, the board floor slamming under the jackboots and the fiddlers grinning hideously over their canted pieces. Towering over them all is the judge and he is naked dancing, his small feet lively and quick and now in doubletime and bowing to the ladies, huge and pale and hairless, like an enormous infant. He never sleeps, he says. He says he'll never die. He bows to the fiddlers and sashays backwards and throws back his head and laughs deep in his throat and he is a great favorite, the judge. He wafts his hat and the lunar dome of his skull passes palely under the lamps and he swings about and takes possession of one of the fiddles and he pirouettes and makes a pass, two passes, dancing and fiddling at once. His feet are light and nimble. He never sleeps. He says the he will never die. He dances in light and in shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says the he will never die.

- From Blood Meridian