Roxanne reviews Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
Confession: I had never read Cormac McCarthy before. Sure, I saw the film No Country for Old Men (with my eyes squinted shut for the scary scenes) and I heard about how depressing The Road (his Pulitzer Prize winning novel) was, but Stella Maris, his most recent novel, is the one for which I finally screwed up my courage.
And guess what? No violence. I won’t spoil any other specifics for you, but this book is obviously by ‘the Grandpa who’s finally mellowed out’ and that’s said with zero ageism and 100% respect and revelry.
Here’s the plot’s skeleton: a young female mathematician checks herself into a Wisconsin psychiatric hospital. Stella Maris details weeks of her conversation with an older male psychiatrist. Counseling plots are my jam (Listen to the Marriage being another of my staff picks and most of the reason I bought into The Sopranos with the great Lorraine Branco as Tony’s shrink). So, it’s not for readers hell bent on action, but rather those who enjoy the slow burn of questions: is she or isn’t she mentally scrambled, in combination with why did the therapist say that?
This novel is heavily laden with math theories and a unique way of looking at whose judgment mental illness belongs to, as well as where the origin of mental illness begins.