• Outer Dark

  • By: Cormac McCarthy
  • Narrated by: Ed Sala
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (752 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Outer Dark is a novel at once fabular and starkly evocative, set is an unspecified place in Appalachia, sometime around the turn of the century. A woman bears her brother's child, a boy; he leaves the baby in the woods and tells her he died of natural causes. Discovering her brother's lie, she sets forth alone to find her son. Both brother and sister wander separately through a countryside being scourged by three terrifying and elusive strangers, headlong toward an eerie, apocalyptic resolution.

©1968 Cormac McCarthy (P)2013 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Outer Dark

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Throwing chert boulders at the dark center

I keep reading Cormac McCarthy to find a single crack of light in his dark, grotesque lyricism. 'Outer Dark' as a novel is unconventional and amazing. The story was allegorical without being stiff, it was regional without being provincial. Like most all of McCarthy's work, it is Biblical in its power and intensity.

In 'Outer Dark', McCarthy is throwing chert boulders at the dark center of the Universe. He isn't interested in little themes. Even in his small books he is taking on ideas as large and slippery as fate, guilt, agency, and God. Structurally, Outer Dark was drum-tight. The prose and the vernacular/archaic dialogue were both crisp and amazing. 'Outer Dark' is prose art at a high-level and it scared the literary Hell out of me.

69 people found this helpful

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Shit from Apple Butter

Finally catching up to Outer Dark (1968) by Cormac McCarthy. It contains my new favorite quote in the whole of the Great Southern literary tradition (that I have read): “He don’t know shit from apple butter!” Of course, it’s incredible for so many other reasons: Descriptive passages so beautiful and haunting they make you cry (particularly the descriptions of the settings and landscapes in which the characters dwell). Dialect so purely authentically southern you know practically which county that voice is coming from. Quirky, weird, funny, delicate, brutal characters that make you giggle with their peculiarity and profundity. Plots that lumber along then snap to and drive you to places of utter awe or terror or grandeur sometimes all at once. And it’s tied together with prose is so stripped down to the essentials its practically poetry. It’s all here in Outer Dark and it fucking rules.

23 people found this helpful

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Amazing book, no happy ending

I couldn't stop listening : great dialogue , thrilling scenes. Loved it. Cormac really hit his stride with this, his second novel.

21 people found this helpful

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Excellent, but...

I felt like I needed to shower while listening to get the grime of the words off of me. It was as though I was face down in the decaying mud of a bog listening.

I say that as a good thing. This is a vivid story, excellently voiced.

17 people found this helpful

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Definitionally Southern Gothic

This novel should top the list in any Google search for, or be featured in any dictionary's definition of, "Southern gothic fiction." What we have here, friends, is two odysseys through a few circles like Dante's, full of nihilistic brutality, edentulous elderly, incest, cannibalism, grim reapers and angels of death, liquor, piety, grotesquery, apocalyptic ambiguities, and Biblical allegories.

You'd best wear boots when you start to readin' cuz yore fixin' to enter a world of sh*t.

14 people found this helpful

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very, very disappointed

Any additional comments?

I can scarcely believe thet this is the same author who wrote no country for old men.
This guy gets so lost in detail, he seems to forget he's telling a story. so while he's busy waxing lyrical on the shape of a puff of road dust, or a faraway raven's lonely call, the reader wonders just when someting is going to FINALLY HAPPEN!?
the entire story could have been summed up in about half the time it took to slog through this horrible book. The first paragraph sets the tone and the pace. It sounds like that through the whole book. Listen to the sample. If you can stand it for five minutes, maybe you'll like it.

What little story was included in this depressing seven hour poem was not worth the time.
Also it ends badly, sorry but i hated it.

12 people found this helpful

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Why is McCarthy so damn pretentious?

Just like in Blood Meridian, we get countless descriptions of every minute trivial detail, except for when it matters. I know what the dirt on Rinthy's feet looked like, but I have no idea what happened to her. Just like The Kid in Blood Meridian, we're left with really no clue what happened to our main character. To me, that's pretentious, and a big middle finger to the reader, who stuck with the the author all this time, only to be let down. I've tried to like McCarthy, but damn if this book doesn't spoil him for me.

9 people found this helpful

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hard to follow

Author uses pronouns A LOT. I wish he would just name characters more often. makes it confusing when several people are around talking to know who is speaking or which story line is currently being told. also chapters are not clearly marked story skips about randomly. Hard to follow

7 people found this helpful

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Mysterious, eerie, and wonderful!

I bought this book during a sale and had no idea who Cormac McCarthy was but the story sounded interesting. Didn't realize he wrote so many American classics! The entire book takes you on a mysterious trip through turn-of-the-century Appalachia with some colorful characters and a story that doesn't try to make life better than it really is for these people. At first, the writing seems a little forced with overly complex descriptions but you quickly come to appreciate this quirk. Ed Sala is an AMAZING narrator and enhances the visual picture of already excellent writing. I also recommend any reader not to over-analyze the story. I'm sure there are some deep meanings involved but during the first read just sit back, listen, and enjoy a weird and wonderful trip.

6 people found this helpful

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Dark & beautiful

Dark and incredibly beautiful and there couldn’t have been a better reader for this work. It’s perfection

4 people found this helpful

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  • hfffoman
  • 11-13-13

Bleak but riveting

Any additional comments?

An extremely bleak story but so well written as to be entirely absorbing. The dialogue is so good I cannot think of any novelist who surpasses it. The reading is perfect for the book, so gritty you feel you are right there among these wiry people, tough as worn out boots. Ed Sala is a true performer, bringing out the dialogue perfectly. I will look for more books he has done..

5 people found this helpful

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  • Blind Boy
  • 05-31-14

A Bad Mens' World

Don't read this one if you haven't already read latest books from the author. 'Outer Dark' is a tipical wrong second novel after a tolerable first book: loads of material with no tangible concept. Incongruent simbolism, exhausting poetry,confused picaresque narration. However you can see traces of the future genius: endless erration on a road to nowhere, hostile landscape, evil locals and dead, dead, dead all along the story. (God will certainly punish Mr. McCarthy for all the babies and young people massacred in his novels) But locks of humour and a minimum of benevolent thinking. Adolescent blood hunger and uncomfortable storytelling. Quite forgettable.

Ed Sala is like a fat country cat, slow and jovial. Very enjoyable!

3 people found this helpful

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  • chris
  • 03-01-19

pay attention

not an easy listen, casual violence lyrically written and performed brilliantly. The words are lean and the talented narrator delivers them vividly. Only an American actor could do this because he captures the nuances of the language and the rhythm of McCarthy's prose which immerses the listener in the bleak but brilliant novel from one the world's greatest writers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dan Thurley
  • 04-18-22

christ that was bleak

love Cormac Mccarthy, and this was no exception if you like unrelenting, grinding poverty, misery and awfulness.

really well read and atmospheric, I did enjoy it but don't expect any rays of sunshine.

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  • Harry68
  • 10-16-19

Desolate masterpiece

Nobody does southern gothic like Cormac McCarthy. Abundant with allegory and coruscating imagery this book left its imprint long after the final words faded. Darkly humorous, violent, bleak, beautiful and laced with McCarthys stunning prose. There are demons in the woods that look like men.

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  • Heisenberg
  • 08-24-19

Bleak subject matter but sublime writing.

Nobody writes quite like Cormac McCarthy.

A dark Southern Gothic tale of an incestuously conceived baby abandoned in the woods, and the mother's subsequent search for her child.

If that sounds like a very dark story to you, then you would be correct; this is, after all, Cormac McCarthy. Yes, it is bleak, but at the same time it is written in the most lyrical, beautiful style that I have encountered.

It is perfectly read by Ed Sala, his voice and manner completely in sync with McCarthy's writing.

Given the subject matter, this is not for everyone, but my goodness it is writing so near perfect that it takes the breath away.

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