Tag: border trilogy

2014 Book #61: The Crossing

crossingI picked up The Crossing because I’d read a string of crappy books, and I wanted to read one that I knew would be good. All I knew about it was that it’s by Cormac McCarthy and that it’s the second book in the Border Trilogy. Actually, I guess I should have known exactly what to expect. I like reading books that I know almost nothing about – the plot happens as it happens, and I can go for the ride. That’s what happened here, and oh, what a difficult ride it was.

Shortly after I began reading this book, I wondered whether I was emotionally equipped to finish it. Turns out I was, but barely. The Crossing made me cry. I don’t remember the last time that happened. Stoner, maybe? It’s been a while.

Instead of offering any sort of plot summary, I’m going to post some quotes because you should really read this book, and I don’t want to spoil your experience.

He camped that night on the broad Animas Plain and the wind blew in the grass and he slept on the ground wrapped in the serape and in the wool blanket the old man had given him. He built a small fire but he had little wood and the fire died in the night and he woke and watched the winter stars slip their hold and race to their deaths in the darkness. He could hear the horse step in its hobbles and hear the grass rip softly in the horse’s mouth and hear it breathing or the toss of its tail and he saw far to the south beyond she Hatchet Mountains the flare of lightning over Mexico and he knew that he would not be buried in this valley but in some distant place among strangers and he looked out to where the grass was running in the wind under the cold starlight as if it were the earth itself hurtling headlong and he said softly before he slept again that the one thing he knew of all things claimed to be known was that there was no certainty to any of it. Not just the coming of war. Anything at all.

Also:

If a dream can tell the future it can also thwart that future. For God will not permit that we shall know what is to come. He is bound to no one that the world unfold just so upon its course and those who by some sorcery or by some dream might come to pierce the veil that lies so darkly over all that is before them may serve by just that vision to cause that God should wrench the world from its heading and set it upon another course altogether and then where stands the sorcerer? Where the dreamer and his dream?

One more:

For the world was made new each day and it was only men’s clinging to its vanished husks that could make of that world one husk more.

Cormac McCarthy is the best living American novelist.

The Crossing is now one of my favorite McCarthy novels. Blood Meridian still takes top honors.

This novel is the second in a trilogy, though you don’t have to read the first one to know what’s going on. I’d imagine there might be at least a few references to the first one, but it’s been a while since I’ve read All the Pretty Horses, and I didn’t catch any. I guess The Crossing isn’t McCarthy’s most accessible novel, so you might want to start with The Road if you like popular lit. It’s not like the rest of his novels, though. Blood Meridian is more representative. I think I started with Outer Dark, which might be even more grim than this one. McCarthy is not a cheery writer.

Photo credit: Pam Morris

2013 Book #32: All the Pretty Horses

imageI only discovered Cormac McCarthy a few years ago. It might even have been The Road that put me on notice. (I loved that book, by the way.) I think I read Outer Dark after that one. Outer Dark is my second-favorite. Blood Meridian is my favorite. So where does All the Pretty Horses fit in, you ask? I’ll put it in the middle, below those I just mentioned but above Child of God, which I didn’t like (and which I read in one sitting at my local Barnes and Noble. I didn’t buy the book). All the Pretty Horses is good – not his best, but good. I enjoyed it, though it’s a bit of a blur since I read through it so quickly.

It’s not as dark as the others, and it’s the first of a trilogy about which I know nothing besides what’s in this one. Parts are graphic and hard to read. It’s about two young cowboys, John Grady Cole and Leslie Rawlins, who leave their homes in Texas to work in Mexico. On the way, a kid named Blevins joins them and causes all kinds of problems. Cole and Rawlins end up working on a ranch, and Cole ends up in love with the owner’s daughter, and things don’t go well. Mexican prison is involved. They eventually decide (separately) to go back to Texas.

I don’t really have much to say about All the Pretty Horses. When I get onto these reading tears, I get through books so quickly that I don’t remember them for long after. At the same time, it’s worth it because sometimes I need to escape from reality for a while, even (and especially) when I can’t do it physically. Which might mean that I’ll slow down, now, since I finally got out of Shreveport: I’m in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a library conference. Except instead of going out last night, I bought a bottle of wine and a corkscrew and spent the evening reading. The TV hasn’t been on in my hotel room, and it probably won’t come on tonight, either.

Anyway. I liked All the Pretty Horses, though it’s not McCarthy’s best, and it’s not my favorite. At some point, I’ll probably read the rest of the trilogy, but nothing about this book makes me want to jump to the next like, say, Game of Thrones does. It’s its own book, and I imagine that the other two are, too, though I might eventually prove myself wrong. I’m not in a hurry.

Bonus: Here’s pictorial evidence of what happened last night!

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