Ben NicholsJan 28, 2009 Daytrotter Studio, Rock Island, IL

  1. Bookery Reading

Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Brendan Kiefer

Sadly, I have never seen a Lucero live show, though they have a reputation as drag-em-out good time sloshers, with everyone leaving satisfied and stumbling a whole helluva lot. Ben Nichols, the lead singer of that group from Memphis, Tennessee, is someone who admires great prose and banged up pickup trucks. He sounds as if he gladly gargles with moonshine, whiskey and barbed wire. His first solo album The Last Pale Light in the West is a chronicle of open spaces, the tough mornings that come after nights that hold Lucero shows and breakups, and men who can't seem to avoid trouble, men with leathered hands and deep-set regret. Here he reads from a classic Cormac McCarthy novel.

"I picked this section of the book (pages 234 to 236) to read mainly because I simply liked it. I think it sums up many of _Blood Meridian_'s best qualities. It's violent and uncongenial and also in parts it's as funny as it is scary. It's just very well written. It has all the elements that McCarthy's writing has become known for. Also, it showcases the incongruity of these characters' views of the world, race in particular. They are scalp hunters hired to destroy Apaches by the Mexican government. They have no qualms about killing natives or even the Mexicans that hired them for that matter. Truth be told they have no qualms about killing anyone. But in this case they happen to be on the other side of racial politics. Not out of any righteous beliefs, but because the man Jackson is one of their own. The character of the Judge speaks often of war and its place among men as the ultimate trial. He actually even says, "War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence." (pg 249). Jackson has waged war alongside Glanton and his men, and the unity derived from that outweighs all other racial concerns in this instance for these men. It has nothing to do with their views on race. It is simply, for these characters, the strong that prevail." - Ben Nichols

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