Tuesday, December 13, 2016

All the Pretty Horses

by Cormac McCarthy
302 pgs  (The Border trilogy #1)

All the Pretty Horses is the first book in Cormac McCarthy's Border trilogy. It's set in the late 1940s and is a coming-of-age story featuring John Grady Cole. John Grady is a 16-ear-old boy who decides to leave the Texas ranch he grew up on when he learns his other has plans to sell it. He leaves with his horse and his friend Rawlins and travels south across the border into Mexico looking for work.

Along the way, they cross paths with a young boy named Blevins. Blevins looks like he's about 13 years old, but he claims to be much older. He's a runaway, but he's riding a huge horse which is much too fine an animal to belong to a runaway. One night, during a severe thunderstorm, Blevins' horse runs away and Blevins loses the vintage Colt pistol he had been carrying. He convinces John Grady and Rawlins to accompany him to the nearest town to look for them, but when they find them, Blevins has no way to prove that hes' the original owner of either. He decides he's going to steal back his horse, which sets off a series of events that ends with John Grady sitting in a Mexican jail cell.

This is the third book by Cormac McCarthy that I've read, and I've learned that his books are the kinds that are meant to be studied more than merely read. He tells a story, but the story itself seems to be more of a vehicle to deliver the deeper message he's telling. This book is more about idealism and how the world is intent on destroying it with reality. John Grady has a strong sense of idealism, he believes there's a cowboy code of honor that, if followed, will lead him to love and success. But his experiences teach him that that's not the way the world works. John Grady is forced to make decisions in order to survive, decisions that contradict his sense of the way the world is supposed to work.

All the Pretty Horses is not an uplifting story (having read Cormac's others, I shouldn't have expected one). It is however, a great book. It's beautifully written and is another example of just how good McCarthy is.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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