The Gardener’s Son – Cormac McCarthy (Book Review)

gardener's son

First off, I love Cormac McCarthy, I absolutely love his writing. No Country For Old Men. The Road. Oh My God The Road! There may not be a better written apocalyptic father and son tale of traversing across the country after desolation and anarchy have set in. The Road is, without the zombies, what the Walking Dead tries to be.

The screenplay; The Gardner’s Son captures the style and oppression of a Cormac McCarthy story. The tale of regular men, doing what they feel must be the right thing, only to have it spiral out of their grasp as they fall victims to a situation that is far bigger than themselves.

Cormac McCarthy wrote the screenplay for The Gardener’s son in 1976 and it was broadcast on PBS that same year. It received two Emmy award nominations.

The story of two families separated by wealth and privilege in a small Southern Mill town. The McEvoys and the Greggs. Robert McEvoy, as the story begins, is having his leg amputated due to a Mill accident thought to be caused by the affluent son of the Mill owner; James Gregg. In anger and bitterness, Robert leaves town, deserting his family.

Upon the death of his mother, two years later, Robert returns. He is hardened from his time on the road. He learns that his father, a once proud gardener for the Greggs no longer works in the gardens but in the darkness of the Mill. Fueled by a simmering hate for the wrongs done to his family he confronts James Gregg and shoots him dead.

The trial and punishment that follows will consume what is left of the two families and the town itself, exposing the lies and secrets of a small Southern town.

Written as a screenplay and presented as such, it may not have the full sense of drama and flow as a novel would, but in the hands of McCarthy it is conveyed very well. Cormac McCarthy has a voice in his writing that is as unique and harmonious with the written page as anything being printed today. He may very well be the voice of that dusty little underbelly of small town America that we thought long dead. But in fact breathes very well still.

After reading this screenplay I know I will be looking for the television movie in video or streaming


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