|One of America's most formidable, iconoclastic, and enigmatic writers, Cormac McCarthy has been critically acclaimed since the publication of his first novel, THE ORCHARD KEEPER, in 1965, but he has resolutely stayed outside of the limelight of the literary world, diligently building a canon of works hailed as following in the tradition of Melville and Joyce. His editor at Random House, Albert Erskine, had edited William Faulkner, and echoes of Faulkner appeared in McCarthy's novels about the brutal and surreal South. He grew up in Tennessee, the third of six children, and oldest boy, in a Roman Catholic family; he was originally named Charles, but renamed himself Cormac after an Irish king. After dropping out of the University of Tennessee, and serving four years stationed in Alaska in the U.S. Air Force, McCarthy married the poet Lee Holleman, and moved to Chicago where he worked as an auto mechanic while finishing his first novel. (After their marriage ended, Holleman wrote DESIRE'S DOOR, a book of poems about their relationship.) Using fellowship money from the American Academy of Arts and Letter, McCarthy traveled to Ireland; on the ship crossing, he met an Englishwoman, Anne DeLisle, and they were married in England in 1966. The two traveled Europe and lived on the island of Ibiza where he completed his second novel, OUTER DARK, a bleak parable about the birth, theft, and early death of a child born out of incest. Though his fiction received wide-spread acclaim, McCarthy's dark novels never achieved large sales. He survived through various grants (including a Guggenheim) and by living an austere lifestyle in a barn on a hog farm in Tennessee--he renovated it entirely by himself, building a stone chimney, cutting and kiln-drying wood, and making a fireplace out of bricks salvaged from the boyhood home. Despite their poverty, McCarthy would decline offers to speak or lecture, and has only given one print interview (to The New York Times). In 1985, after winning the McArthur "Genius Grant" McCarthy wrote BLOOD MERIDIAN, the first of his novels to be set in Texas and the Southwest, and considered by many to be his masterpiece. By this time, his second marriage had ended, and McCarthy was living in motels, carrying a high-watt bulb to write by. With ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, the first of his "Border Crossing" trilogy, McCarthy finally began to emerge in the public consciousness, and when in 2007 his post-apocalyptic novel THE ROAD was selected for the Oprah Book Club and won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, his literary ascendance was complete. Over 1,000,000 copies of the novel were printed, and critics lavished praise on McCarthy's starkly riveting and prophetic prose. McCarthy's subjects have always been universal, Biblical, and filled with the desperation of humanity; in the 1980s, Saul Bellow honored McCarthy's "absolutely overpowering use of language, his life-giving and death-dealing sentences."