From his earliest literary forays like 'The Orchard Keeper' and 'Suttree', it was clear that the American Novel had found its heir to Faulkner. His prose contains the same lyrical beauty and biblical gravity of his artistic predecessor, with a harsh, often brutal clarity that is all his own.
With 'Outer Dark' he defines his own personal vision of the nightmares that leave their bloody fingerprints across the pages of American history, in the form of a fable... As American as this novel is, McCarthy mines deeper veins, working mythological ores seamlessly into the alloy. The baby left exposed on a hillside due to deformity or weakness, or as in this case, incest, is drawn from the traditions of ancient Greece, wherein the gods decide the child's fate. The terrifying and brilliant presence of the three deadly strangers stalking the siblings' trail are the Erinyes, The Furies, agents of divine retribution tasked with destroying those who spill the blood of there own family. The allusions continue, and a knowledge of Greek myth is certainly helpful in fully appreciating the depth of the novel, but is not necessary. McCarthy draws upon archetypal resonance to give 'Outer Dark' a weight that transcends the particulars of time and place without in any way negating them. It was his first true masterpiece, I believe, but not his greatest; that honor belongs to 'Blood Meridian', perhaps the finest novel of the 20th century.