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Inscribed by Cormac McCarthy to His Good Friend and Fellow Visual Artist, Bill KidwellCormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West. New York: Random House, . First edition. Inscribed and signed by McCarthy, "For Bill Kidwell / All the best from / your friend / Cormac McCarthy" on the half title page. Octavo. 337 pages. Publisher's red cloth over red paper boards with gilt spine titles. Original pictorial dust jacket. Minor wear to the book and jacket. Rubbing to spine gilt. Short closed tear to rear panel of dust jacket. Very good condition.
A very interesting and unique aspect of this copy relates to an obscured portion of handwriting to the title page. Below the author's printed name can be seen two lines of Liquid Paper correction. When looked at from the reverse of the title page, one can clearly see the words "for Bill Kidwell" in a secretarial hand, and then McCarthy's autograph, "Cormac" underneath. What likely happened here is that McCarthy was unhappy to have signed a secretarial inscription for such a close friend, ordered it to be blotted out, and then added his personal inscription to the half title page. This is very likely a unique occurrence in a McCarthy title.
From "Cormac McCarthy: A Rare Literary Life" by George Brosi: Cormac McCarthy was born in 1933 in Providence, Rhode Island, the eldest son in a family of three girls and three boys. In 1937, his father, a lawyer, went to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, and the family moved there, living in a succession of rental houses until June of 1941 when the family bought a place on Martin Mill Pike at the outskirts of the city. Cormac roamed the nearby woods and later learned to fish and hunt. As a child, McCarthy's passion was visual art. His work was exhibited in shows beginning at the tender age of eight. Asked about his subject matter, he recalled a mixed media painting he did of a rhinoceros charging. McCarthy's only public artwork that has survived is inauspiciously located on the grounds of the Blount County Public Library in Maryville, Tennessee. It is a mosaic on a horizontal circular slab of concrete signed by both him and fellow artist, Bill Kidwell.
Bill Kidwell met Cormac McCarthy in 1963 in Knoxville while on vacation from Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank. They next met in Atlanta in 1964 at a mutual friend's residence. In 1969, the two men lived next door to each other in Rockford, TN, and in 1970 they lived near each other in Louisville. Between 1969 and 1973, Kidwell and McCarthy were in touch frequently, and in 1972 they collaborated on two mosaic sidewalks in downtown Maryville, TN, which Kidwell designed and McCarthy engineered. The two men did all the labor for the HUD project. Kidwell moved to Williamson County near Nashville to a community named Fernvale in 1973 and began building custom homes from recycled materials, mostly timber framed buildings. MCarthy called one day in 1978 and asked to come stay with Kidwell. Kidwell gave McCarthy a job and an old Dodge pickup to drive. At this time, McCarthy built some additions and one beautiful chimney of limestone and white mortar for a client, work which Mr. Kidwell found impeccable. Also at this time, McCarthy worked with men who would go on to inspire the characters in his work, The Stonemason. They all worked together on a large addition to house a duck decoy collection for a client in Nashville. McCarthy designed the room as well as supervised its construction. McCarthy left Nashville in 1979 for Tucson, Arizona and then to El Paso, Texas, where he lived on Coffin Avenue, an appropriate street name for the writing of Blood Meridian.
In a personal letter to Heritage explaining his friendship with McCarthy, Kidwell wrote: "One of the things he [McCarthy] told me years ago was that when he was in New Orleans writing The Orchard Keeper, he used a wooden crate for a desk and on the crate was the inscription, "World Renowned." He made up his mind that that description would apply to him one day. And it did. I owe him so much. He introduced me to books I would never have read and enlightened me in so many ways during our times together. He was and still is the most intelligent person I've ever met."
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