Size: 6 x 9
Pages: 336
Illustrations: 10 b&w halftones

Literary Studies
Back to previous page

Embracing Vocation

Cormac McCarthy's Writing Life, 1959-1974

Dianne C. Luce

Published: Jan 4 2023


Published: Jan 4 2023


Published: Jan 4 2023

OA Ebook
Published: Jan 4 2023


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

Revelations on craft from a foundational scholar of Cormac McCarthy

Devotees of Cormac McCarthy's novels are legion, and deservedly so. Embracing Vocation, which tells the tale of his journey to become one of America's greatest living writers, will be invaluable to scholars and literary critics—and to the many fans—interested in his work.

Dianne C. Luce, a foundational scholar of McCarthy's writing, through extensive archival research, examines the first fifteen years of his career and his earliest novels. Novel by novel, Luce traces each book's evolution. In the process she unveils McCarthy's working processes as well as his personal, literary, and professional influences, highlighting his ferocious devotion to both his craft and burgeoning art. Luce invites us to see the fascinating evolution of an American author with a unique vision all his own. Until there is a full-on biography, this study, along with Luce's previous, Reading the World: Cormac McCarthy's Tennessee Period, is the finest available portrait of an American genius unfolding.

Dianne C. Luce is the author of Reading the World: Cormac McCarthy's Tennessee Period (University of South Carolina Press) and coeditor of Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy and A Cormac McCarthy Companion: The Border Trilogy. She is cofounder and past president of the Cormac McCarthy Society.

"In Embracing Vocation, Dianne C. Luce offers a vivid account of McCarthy's early writing life, one that is rich in archival detail and incomparable in its depth and scope. The volume constitutes the essential basis for any future biography, and it will form an interpretive foundation for a generation of McCarthy scholars and beyond."—Steven Frye, professor of English at California State University, Bakersfield, and author of Understanding Cormac McCarthy and Unguessed Kingships

"Dianne Luce is the rare literary scholar whose scrupulous research would pass courtroom standards of evidence. Through forensic analysis of drafts and correspondence, the meticulous assemblage of widely dispersed interview clues and financial records, and the invaluable archival record of her own making, Luce has achieved what lesser minds and scholars once deemed impossible: a credible and creditable account of the reputationally elusive writer's first phase of literary life. Her ability to elicit order from the record, one carefully sourced fact at a time, is astonishing. If McCarthy is a writer for the ages, then Luce's book will stand as a foundational gift to literary historians and devotees alike."—Bryan Giemza, author of Science and Literature in Cormac McCarthy's Expanding World

"Dianne Luce continues to demonstrate her preeminence among Cormac McCarthy scholars. Rigorously excavating correspondence, drafts, notes and other documents from the Wittliff Collection and other archives, she provides a thorough, illuminating, and indispensable examination of the genesis of McCarthy's first three novels and the origins of his career."—Dr. Scott D Yarbrough, co-editor of Carrying the Fire: Cormac McCarthy's The Road and the Apocalyptic Tradition and host of the podcast Reading McCarthy

"In this intricately researched story of Cormac McCarthy's early novels and his work as a writer, Dianne Luce paints a fascinating portrait of the author, his creative process, and the sometimes surprising ways that his life and art come together. Luce's scholarship is, as always, unparalleled."—Stacey Peebles, editor of the Cormac McCarthy Journal

"Luce's meticulous research and considerable abilities to synthesize vast amounts of information give us a much more complex engagement with the archives and drafting process than we have seen before. [. . .] This book proves what many in McCarthy scholarly circles have felt for a while: Dianne Luce has done more to put together the biographical pieces of McCarthy's puzzle than any other scholar."—The Cormac McCarthy Journal

Books, News & Resources!

Sign up to receive updates on new books, promotions, and USC Press news.