Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cormac's Coke Side Of Life

Coca-Cola references in Cormac McCarthy novels:

The Orchard Keeper, p. 199

Suttree, pp. 23, 70, 71, 72, 156, 185, 392

All the Pretty Horses, p. 221

Cities of the Plain, p. 114

No Country For Old Men, p. 20

The Road, ARC pp. 19, 123

"Stacking up stone is the oldest trade there is," he says, sipping a Coke. "Not even prostitution can come close to its antiquity. It's older than anything, older than fire. And in the last 50 years, with hydraulic cement, it's vanishing. I find that rather interesting." From New York Times Interview.

From the Oprah/Cormac interview last week:

C: I think you have, as you said a passion and if you do it well then you may get rich in spite of yourself.

O: And so all those years that you were poor did you ever think that um one day or was it a concern at all not having money. You know a lot of people, a lot of, you’re a different kind of man because a lot of people have a lot of angst have a lot of anxiety feel a lack of self worth…because they couldn’t earn the money.

C: Yeah. Well.

O: You never had that?

C: That’s them and this is me I don’t know how to answer your question its um, I always very na├»ve I always assumed I’d be taken care of in some way or another and I was I was always very lucky something always happened just when things were truly truly bleak some totally unforeseen thing would occur.

O: Like?

C: Oh like I was I was living in Lexin Lexington Kentucky once and I was housesititng a friend of mine gotten me this job housesitting so I had a place to live but I didn’t have any money I was um I don’t mean that I didn’t have much money, I didn’t have any money but there was still some groceries left in the house so I ate those

O: Uh huh.

C: And uh, then one day someone knocked at the door and I went to the door and there was a guy standing there and he said are you Cormac McCarthy and I thought I don’t think there are any warrants out for me and I said yes I am. He said sign this please I said what is it he said it’s he said I’m a courier and uh he said thank you and got in his car and drove away and I opened up the letter and there was a cheque in it for $20,000 . And it was from, I was the first I was the first fellow of a new foundation that they had started some people in Chattanooga the Lyndhurst Foundation they had some Coca Cola money and they started this foundation and they were going to give these fellowships to people this you know long before the MacCarthur Fellowship.

O: Wow.

Can you imagine what kind of profound product placement may be able to work into the movie version of The Road? The novel is the story of a father and son crossing an ecologically savaged America where the boy has never seen the world as it is now. They find a soda machine at one point during their cautious almost military secret maneuvers to avoid death cults of cannibals. In a ash covered land with no food they find a can of Coke. The boy has never tasted Coke before. In marketing, especially the Coca Cola Company, they have a term called mind share, which regards brand awareness. when I read the novel, this scene was very touching because in the wasteland the little boy got to have a treat. The kind of effect this could have on the budget, on the emotional impact of the scene and the opportunity for Coke to get a literary product placement is kind of exciting.

I believe McCarthy's use of Coke in his novels supports his work as lying in a conservative American folk tradition. This tradition contains hobo art, outsider and folk painting as well as the folk revival of the 60's.

Grant McCraken writes:But something happened to America. It went from a couple of ideas of Americanness to many ideas of Americanness. This may be hard to see from the genteel surroundings of Atlanta headquarters and from the pleasant residential world of Buckhead, but you only had to look at the CSD (carbonated soft drink) "category.”

It stopped being a category. Suddenly, there were new age drinks (Snapple), energy drinks (Red Bull), nutritional drinks (7 Up Plus), lots of little start ups working every niche, and some very scrappy competitors (Pepsi). Not one America, but many Americas. And in this new choice set, Coke began to look too sweet, too caffeinated, too fattening, a little unhealthy, and, gasp, a little old fashioned.

I believe McCarthy's use of the possibly old fashioned but ever popular and sentimental fave Coke is like Hobos and folk artists using familiar images for narration. I believe it also indicates a narritive rooted in a conservative tradition. Conservative as a looking back to the past for guidance and rejecting the materialism driving art, politics and ideologies.

"In Harvard Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Greenwich Village in New York City and other locales situated near college campuses, thriving folk music scenes developed. The revival was a social construct made out of a conservative, restorative, cultural patriotism. Though expressed as a romanticised vision of the past, seeking a more just, genuine society, the revival rebelled against oppresion, consumerism, and modernism. Young people participated in such numbers and with such fervor that the folk revival became an immense cultural and ideological force." From Craig Morrison.

If you want to know about Oprah Cormac interview, please leave me your e-mail in the comments


Amy Ruttan said...

Oh so that was the author! Well, how did he do? I'll see if I can find it on you tube.

Just talking about Coke makes me want a Diet Coke. I'm salivatting now.

I had a blast at the concert. AMAZING SHOW. I plan to post 13 of my favorite pics from the concert (I took over 60) for my Thursday Thirteen this week.

Candy Minx said...

Oh fantastic Amy, I look forward to seeing your pics of the Gwen concert. You can find the McCarthy interview on Oprah's website if you log in....I guess now that you are craving a Coke I've got some product placement on my blog huh?

noneuclidean said...

I heard a rumor on a certain McCarthy forum that you have a transcript of the interview including the extra clips. Seeing that I only have a 56k dial-up connection, I certainly would appreciate that transcript.

alanthenoble (at) gmail (dot) com


Anonymous said...

Kindly send me a copy of that McCarthy/Oprah conversation, too, at the following e-mail address:



Candy Minx said...

Jim and Alan...No problem you came to the right place...consider it done!

Anonymous said...

I would love to read the transcript of the Oprah-Cormac-Interview since I didn't have the opportunity to watch it on TV. Do you think you could send it to me?
miles65 (AT)
PS_ I love your comments on the Cormac-Forum.

* (asterisk) said...

Candy, there's an article on the Coens' No Country for Old Men movie in this month's Sight & Sound magazine. I'll take some photos of it for you if you're interested. Drop me a line.

Wow, all the Cormac guys hang out here, huh?

Candy Minx said...

Hi's on its way.

Asterisk, I would love the photos...but I actually will go and look for the magazine ok? Let me try to get a copy first okay dokey? Usually the McCormac guys aren't here it's because of the interview on Oprah.

* (asterisk) said...

Sure thing!

one of the many Js said...

BGF Central, my favorite blogger, sent me this way owing to your fascination with Cormac and knowing that I, too, am now a McCarthy fan. Love the art analysis. Glad to see all the CM fans. Sadly, I did not know of his work until a few months ago. Have since devoured The Road, the Border Trilogy and No Country...Great writer. I am a huge fan of Faulkner, R. Ellison and R. Wright and CM really struck a nerve with my taste in literature.

Anonymous said...

I've just read The Road and was trying to find a transcript of the Oprah event - then, ran into your blog, good surprise. :)

Gettin' ready to finally read Suttree during the holidays.

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