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No Platform For Old Men: That Isn't Cormac McCarthy On Twitter, Folks.

·4-min read
Photo credit: Mike Kim
Photo credit: Mike Kim

The last time Cormac McCarthy made a television appearance, it was 2007, and The Oprah Winfrey Show was still on the air. Following Winfrey’s selection of The Road for her eponymous book club, the legendarily reclusive author sat for his first (and last) television interview, mumbling nearly inaudible answers to Winfrey’s enthusiastic questions. According to Vulture, McCarthy “bombed.”

Does this sound like a guy who would join Twitter? According to the Twitter verification squad, absolutely yes. Book Twitter was aflap this weekend when Pulitzer Prize winner McCarthy appeared to surface on the platform, tweeting out a now-viral missive crediting his publicist with getting him online. The supposed 88-year-old author’s bio read, “My publicist insists this is a worthwhile use of my remaining time.” As the weekend progressed, McCarthy went on to muse about everything from TikTok to kombucha to Disney+.

McCarthy's Twitter persona was a far cry from his characteristic literary flair, raising flags for many readers. McCarthy, after all, has a singular talent for writing about death, violence, and apocalyptic settings, all of it in shimmering, knife-cut prose—all traits that would seem to set him up for massive success on Twitter, but something seemed off. Here's a taste, from The Road: “He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.” Sounds like Twitter!

Before long, the account was verified, much to the astonishment of skeptical Twitter users who saw right through the ruse. McCarthy’s agent at ICM partners confirmed to The Verge that the account was fake, but even before ICM weighed in, there were clues. For one thing, the handle is misspelled (@CormacMcCrthy). Secondly, why now? McCarthy hasn’t published a book since 2006, has nothing to promote, and surely isn’t hurting for the regard of the American literary public. Still, Book Twitter had its fun with the fake McCarthy. Even Stephen King jumped on the bandwagon, engaging in a short back-and-forth with the fake account.

Twitter, for its part, was quick to parry away from their misstep. "The account referenced was verified by mistake and that has since been reversed," a Twitter spokesperson told The Associated Press. "The account will also be required to adhere to Twitter's parody, newsfeed, commentary, and fan account policy."

This isn’t Twitter’s first rodeo with a McCarthy imposter. In 2012, a fake account for the author amassed thousands of followers, pal-ed around with Margaret Atwood, and Tweeted about his love of dogs. Sock-puppeted by an unpublished novelist, the account fooled even Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who greeted the fake McCarthy warmly. Another fake McCarthy account was debunked in 2015.

In an age where publishing a book means signing over your social media footprint to ceaseless promotion, literary recluses like McCarthy are a welcome blast from the past. Give us more McCarthys, more Emily Dickinsons, more Elena Ferrantes! But before we send this McCarthy imposter off into that good night, let’s remember him (or her!) with some of the brouhaha’s best tweets. After all, the famously media-shy author may have penned the truest description of Twitter ever uttered: “Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.”

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