Reviewed by Karl Michael Travis
The Sunset Limited by Cormac McCarthy is a novel in dramatic form. A white, college professor, named White, goes down to the subway to throw himself in front of a train. He’s stopped by a black, Christian, ex-con, named Black, who somehow persuades him up to his tenement apartment to talk. The entire book is their conversation. It is literally a conversation between life and death. It was written in 2006, the same year McCarthy wrote, published, and won the Pulitzer Prize for The Road. It was adapted to film in 2011 for HBO, directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones as White, with Samuel L. Jackson as Black. Like all McCarthy’s works, every word, every line, is a title, a poem, a world. Here, White explains why he chose to take his life on this day, his birthday, “Who knows, maybe birthdays are dangerous. Like Christmas. Ornaments hanging from the trees, wreaths from the doors, and bodies from the steampipes all over America”. For those familiar with McCarthy, and those that have not met him yet, The Sunset Limited is a hidden gift.