Recently, we stumbled upon an article over at Open Letters Monthly that asked, “Is Cormac McCarthy a Terrible Writer?” The author, Rohan Maitzen, discusses McCarthy’s particular prose style in The Road, which has been celebrated by some and roundly reviled by others. We’ve always been interested in the idea that many of the greatest writers also seem to have the greatest detractors, so to explore further, we’ve rounded up a few of the most divisive authors in recent history — whether they’re controversial for their ideas, their prose style, or their topics. Dive into the fray after the jump, and continue the conversation in the comments.
Maitzen’s piece republishes several critical opinions both for and against the proposition that McCarthy’s prose, specifically in The Road, is skillful. The pool of people that this reviewer has spoken to about the novel are equally split. Similarly, we’d guess that for every person who claims Blood Meridian to be one of the greatest contemporary novels, there’s another who thinks it a barren wasteland of boring scalping. Is this just a hallmark of interesting prose, or is it a sign of general misguidedness? Our money’s on the former, but we’ll hear you out.