Cormac McCarthy Interview at the Wall Street Journal


Check it out here. John Hillcoat, the director of the film adaptation of The Road, is also in on the conversation. McCarthy doesn’t do many of these (this is maybe the third or fourth in, what, twenty-five years or something?), so fans slaver at the mouth for things like this, and this one doesn’t disappoint (though I hear the Oprah interview a few years ago was a bust). He’s terse, funny, dark, writerly, pessimistic, and generally very entertaining. They talk about the film adaptation of The Road (which comes out in two weeks) and McCarthy’s career in general. A few excerpts:

The Wall Street Journal: When you sell the rights to your books, do the contracts give you some oversight over the screenplay, or is it out of your hands?

Mr. McCarthy: No, you sell it and you go home and go to bed. You don’t embroil yourself in somebody else’s project.

WSJ: When you first went to the film set, how did it compare with how you saw “The Road” in your head?

CM: I guess my notion of what was going on in “The Road” did not include 60 to 80 people and a bunch of cameras. [Director] Dick Pearce and I made a film in North Carolina about 30 years ago and I thought, “This is just hell. Who would do this?” Instead, I get up and have a cup of coffee and wander around and read a little bit, sit down and type a few words and look out the window.

WSJ: But is there something compelling about the collaborative process compared to the solitary job of writing?

CM: Yes, it would compel you to avoid it at all costs.


WSJ: What kind of reactions have you gotten to “The Road” from fathers?

CM: I have the same letter from about six different people. One from Australia, one from Germany, one from England, but they all said the same thing. They said, “I started reading your book after dinner and I finished it 3:45 the next morning, and I got up and went upstairs and I got my kids up and I just sat there in the bed and held them.”


4 comments so far

  1. Mark Eddy Smith on

    This is my favorite quip:

    “I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.”

    I find this disturbingly inspirational.

  2. derekryanbrown on

    Can’t wait to get to Oregon and see the film. I don’t think I’ll even speak with them until I see it.

  3. Dad on


  4. jeffreimer on

    Mark: I meant to include that in my snippets but missed it as I was going back through and culling my favorite parts.

    Derek: Make a quick stop over to Kansas, and we’ll watch it together.

    Dad: Yeah, writerly. I’ve read a lot of interviews with writers (specifically novelists), and many of them just have a similar tone that sounds, well, writerly. A little bit antisocial, honest to a fault, and unsentimental about their craft, among other things.

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