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by Cormac McCarthy

Outer Dark, published in 1968 by Random House, was McCarthy’s second novel and bears resemblance to his first, The Orchard Keeper (1965), in terms of setting and character. It, too, is set in the mountains of Appalachia, most likely east Tennessee, although in this novel McCarthy is far less specific concerning time, region, and location. Indeed, this story seems derived from the world of folklore or dream, peopled as it often is by mysterious denizens and ruled by some nightmare logic which makes one question at what level of reality the story operates.

The book begins with the birth of a child, the product of an incestuous relationship...