Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Cormac McCarthy List

A few years ago, I was contemplating teaching Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but I felt like teenagers would find it boring. I could see them complaining and rolling their eyes almost unanimously. I love McCarthy and The Road, but let’s face it—most of the time not much happens. Page after page, the boy and his dad have variations of the same conversation and the same experiences. A colleague went ahead and taught it—and the kids have loved it! Many of them have raved about it to me.

I thought back on my original approach to teaching it the other day when she told me she had a student complaining that he didn’t understand what was going on in it. If this were an early McCarthy book, I would understand the complaint, but The Road? Every day is more or less the same, and every day the boy is going to ask the same questions, and the dad is going to deal with them in the same way. I’m intentionally making it sound boring or static, because the reasons I love McCarthy have nothing to do with plot. I love the way he uses words and makes sentences. In fact, when I read him, I underline all the words I don’t know and the phrases that blow me out of the water. The words he chooses are lyrical, archaic, earthy, rich. Here’s my list from The Road (with page numbers):

Gryke (11)
Collet (16)
Batboard (17)
Bulldrums (17)
Pipeclayed (18)
Breakfront (21)
Chifforobe (22)
Discalced (24)
Shoddy (as a noun, 28)
Creedless (28)
Feverland (28)
Firedrake (31)
Godspoke (32)
Disclets (38)
Mayapple (39)
Pipissewa (39)
Mastic (48)
Cheroot (56)
Advents (59)
Bracken (61)
Stakebed (61)
Rachitic (63)
Colliculus (64)
Temporal gyrus (64)
Siwash (68)
Truckgarden (68)
Billets (of wood, 70)
Claggy (75)
Skifts (76)
Quoits (76)
Cowled (77)
Catamites (92)
Sedge (94)
Kerfs (98)
Port cochere (105)
Sleavings (106)
Dentil (107)
Haspstaple (109)
Tang (as part of a shovel, 109)
Illucid (116)
Swag (123)
Duff (124)
Chert (129)
Coolingboard (130)
Cakebell (184)
Envacuuming (191)
Slagpools (192)
Lightwires (192)
Loggia (204)
Knurled (209)
Scud (as a noun, 221)
Seacrawl (221)
Isocline (222)
Davits (223)
Turnbuckles (223)
Mae west (uncapitalized, 225)
Gimbaled (230)
Bindle (230)
Pampooties (243)
Salitter (261)
Entabled (261)
Bollards (262)
Gantry (262)
Scarpbolts (271)
Bloomery (271)
Uncalendared (273)
Incinerate (as an adjective, 273)
Ensepulchred (273)
Crozzled (273)
Hagmoss (274)
Counterspectacle (274)
Hydroptic (274)
Wimpled (286)
Torsional (287)


Todd said...

One of my favorite books of all time, but for teenagers? So bleak and some of the scenes are nasty. Good for you for challenging them.

lady of Luella said...

great list, love it