By Tom Congalton
The front flap of McCarthy's 1965 first book proved to be very prophetic: "Confident of the acclaim The Orchard Keeper will ultimately receive, but hopeful that such recognition could come now rather than twenty years hence, the publishers sent a number of advance copies to well-known writers and editors, asking for comment and criticism..." Sure enough, McCarthy gained a fervent but very limited following among literary-minded readers, critics, and fellow authors. Outside this circle he was not very well known, even after the 1985 publication of his fifth novel, the violent tour-de-force Blood Meridian, which is now commonly ranked among the best novels of the past quarter century. All that changed in 1991, when he switched from Random House, with whom he had been his entire career, to Knopf. The latter publishing house put considerable effort into advertising his next work, the magnificent All the Pretty Horses, and suddenly all those collectors who had picked up his previous novels at very modest prices felt justifiably pleased with themselves as almost overnight his books skyrocketed in value. While not entirely a recluse, McCarthy is not a very accessible author and signed copies of his works are fairly scarce.
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