When he first read Blood Meridian, he was actually in the process of writing the main section of Legend of a Suicide. That does figure, as landscape, an essential element of McCarthy, is similarly very strong in Vann; the brooding sense of menace, too, of how close we all are to losing the veneer of civilisation, is reminiscent of McCarthy. Vann does particularly well, however, to maintain his own voice: McCarthy's is so strong and distinct it woul be easy, if reading him a lot, to fall unintentionally into parody or imitation, but Vann's beautiful, crisp language is very different from McCarthy's biblical registers.
McCarthy is 'the writer all American writers have to measure themselves against', according to Vann. High praise indeed, and possibly not misplaced. He concludes with an interesting statement:
A great American novel can only be anti-American, and Blood Meridian, like Toni Morrison's Beloved, focuses on our greatest shames, in this case our genocides and our desire for war, contemplating in its final chapters the slaughter of the buffalo; also the slaughter of innocence in the form of a dancing bear, and the slaughter of any would-be penitents, including the kid. The last look west has to see nowhere else to go.
I'm curious about this idea of anti-Americanism. Is that true of the great American novel? Certainly, American writers have never been afraid to be critical of America, from Huck Finn onwards, but the essential core still seems to me to be highly positive about America. Critical yes, but anti no.