10 Cormac McCarthy Books That Should Be Movies

The Orchard Keeper

The Book
McCarthy’s first novel is a quiet, complex Tennessee-set tragedy. Elderly woodsman Arthur Ownby watches over the body of a dead man. That man happens to be the father of teen John Wesley Rattner, whom Ownby is teaching about the wilds of nature.

When John is defended from bullies by outlaw Sylder, he befriends the strange man, unaware that he is his father’s murderer...

The Director
Ang Lee can do doomed relationships in wide open spaces.

The Cast
Ian McKellan, Aaron Johnson, Viggo Mortensen.

The Orchard Keeper

The Book
McCarthy’s first novel is a quiet, complex Tennessee-set tragedy. Elderly woodsman Arthur Ownby watches over the body of a dead man. That man happens to be the father of teen John Wesley Rattner, whom Ownby is teaching about the wilds of nature.

When John is defended from bullies by outlaw Sylder, he befriends the strange man, unaware that he is his father’s murderer...

The Director
Ang Lee can do doomed relationships in wide open spaces.

The Cast
Ian McKellan, Aaron Johnson, Viggo Mortensen.

Child of God

The Book
The story of murderer and rapist Lester Ballard, who lives outside of law and order. Deserted as a child by his mother, Ballard stalks the townsfolk of Sevier County, haunted by the death of his girlfriend.

Flashbacks and flashforwards show the reactions of the town as Ballard’s horrific crimes are discovered...

The Director
Tobe Hooper knows his backwards backwoods corpse collectors.

The Cast
Dominic West. No offence Dominic.

Blood Meridian

The Book
It’s the late 1840s. Teenage runaway ‘The Kid’ encounters a conclave of scalping outlaws known as the Glanton Gang, as well as the corrupt and forbidding Judge Holden.

Twisting and merging ideas of villains and heroes, this bleak pseudo-Western follows The Kid when he joins the Glanton Gang and hunts Indians and Mexicans for their scalps.

The Director
Paul Thomas Anderson. If only so he can cast Daniel Day Lewis as the Judge.

The Cast
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Day Lewis, Gene Hackman.

Suttree

The Book
McCarthy’s lightest work tonally, the titular Cornelius Suttree is a screw-up who has retired from a life of luxury, abandoned his family, and lives on a houseboat in Knoxville.

Encountering Gene Harrogate, a luckless adventurer, the two embark on a series of screwball misadventures in the town. Meanwhile, Suttree’s attempts at romance all end messily...

The Director
The Coen Brothers want to make a classic screwball comedy. This could be it.

The Cast
Michael Fassbender, Woody Harrelson, Meryl Streep

The Crossing

The Book
A coming-of-age drama set around World War II (literary sequel to All the Pretty Horses , but can easily stand alone as a film). Teen cowboy Billy Parham crosses the Mexico border three times, each time for a different reason.

First to re-home a she-wolf, then to recover stolen horses, and finally to look for his brother Boyd. Along the way, he crosses the divide between boy and man, learning the lessons of life...

The Director
Richard Attenborough hasn't done an epic for a while.

The Cast
Jesse Eisenberg

The Crossing

The Book
A coming-of-age drama set around World War II (literary sequel to All the Pretty Horses , but can easily stand alone as a film). Teen cowboy Billy Parham crosses the Mexico border three times, each time for a different reason.

First to re-home a she-wolf, then to recover stolen horses, and finally to look for his brother Boyd. Along the way, he crosses the divide between boy and man, learning the lessons of life...

The Director
Richard Attenborough hasn't done an epic for a while.

The Cast
Jesse Eisenberg

Cities of the Plain

The Book
Already being adapted by Dominik for a tentative 2012 release. In 1952, friends John Grady and Billy Parham work on a cattle ranch near the Mexico border. When Grady meets a prostitute called Magdalena, he falls in love and asks her to marry him, despite Billy’s misgivings.

Set against the wilds of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, human drama tempts tragedy.

The Director
Andrew Dominik. Because he got there first.

The Cast
Unknowns.

The Stonemason

The Book
Actually, this one’s a play revolving around the trials that face the Telfairs, a family living in 1970s Kentucky. Ben Telfair quits university to help his grandfather with the family tradition of stonemasonry.

Meanwhile, his father commits suicide, and his nephew dies from an overdose. Streamlining two of the play’s five acts (which are just family background) could transform Stonemason into a powerful domestic drama.

The Director
Steven Spielberg, whenever he feels like another Oscar.

The Cast
Mehcad Brooks, Naomie Harris, Danny Glover.

The Sunset Limited

The Book
Another play perfect for the bigscreen treatment. Dialogue-driven and super light on superfluities, the two leads of Sunset are simply named Black and White after their skin colours.

When Black saves White from hurling himself in front of a train, the pair debate the meaning of life in Black’s New York flat. One’s a hopeful, evangelical ex-con, the other a cynical atheist. Can they ever come to an agreement?

The Director
Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino, please.

The Cast
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jake Gyllenhaal.

Outer Dark

The Book
Twin stories of exploration and self-discovery give Outer Dark its troubled heart.

When Rinthy gives birth to her brother Culla’s child, he abandons the baby in the woods. Discovering her sibling's deceit, Rinthy attempts to track down whoever discovered the child and reclaim it as her own.

Meanwhile, Culla sets out looking for work, but misfortune follows him like a shadow...

The Director
Frank Darabont's dark side.

The Cast
James McAvoy, Carey Mulligan.

The Gardeners Son

The Book
Already a '70s two-parter that aired on PBS in the US, this historical drama involves two families in 1876 - the mill-owning Greggs, and the McEvoys, who work at the mill.

When the young, bigoted James Gregg takes over the mill, he derides the workers and attempts to woo Martha McEvoy.

In retaliation, her brother Robert (the titular son) kills the arrogant mill owner...

The Director
Martin Scorsese.

The Cast
Josh Brolin, Brad Dourif, Kelly Macdonald.