Cormac McCarthy is the author of five previous novels, at least three of which—OUTER DARK, SUTTREE, and BLOOD MERIDIAN—are as good as any novel published in English since the 1960’s, when McCarthy made his debut. While many of his fellow writers have acknowledged McCarthy’s achievements, his work has not received widespread notice—a neglect attributable in part to his uncompromising artistry but also to his reclusive nature. His new novel, however, was preceded by an excerpt in ESQUIRE and a profile in THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE; now, for the first time, a McCarthy novel has appeared on the best-seller list.
ALL THE PRETTY HORSES is identified on the title page as the first volume of THE BORDER TRILOGY; the following two volumes, Knopf has announced, will appear in 1993 and 1994. The novel begins in 1949 on a ranch in Texas, where the grandfather of the sixteen-year-old protagonist, John Grady Cole, has just died. John Grady’s parents are estranged. His father returned from the war permanently damaged; his mother has no interest in keeping the ranch once the grandfather dies. Denied his patrimony, denied a life on the ranch that has been the center of his existence, John Grady sets out on horseback with a friend to cross the border into Mexico.
The narrative that follows is highly stylized: part fable, part tall tale, a modern-day Western brimming with adventure, love, and revenge, told in lyrical, hypnotic language that veers perilously close to self-parody. Joyce and Faulkner may come to mind as stylistic forebears, but the voice is unmistakably McCarthy’s. ALL THE PRETTY HORSES is a coming-of-age story, an elegy for a vanishing way of life, and—McCarthy’s trademark—a study of good and evil as they are worked out in human destinies.
THE BORDER TRILOGY is a work in progress; the jury will stay out until 1994. Meanwhile, many readers will be impatient for that second volume.
Sources for Further Study
Booklist. LXXXIX, April 1, 1992, p. 1412.
Chicago Tribune. May 10, 1992, XIV, p. 5.
The Christian Science Monitor. June 11, 1992, p. 13.
Commonweal. CXIX, September 25, 1992, p. 29.
Library Journal. CXVII, May 15, 1992, p. 120.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. May 17, 1992, p. 3.
The New York Times Book Review. XCVII, May 17, 1992, p. 9.
Newsweek. CXIX, May 18, 1992, p. 68.
Publishers Weekly. March 16, 1992, p. 64.
The Washington Post Book World. XXII, May 3, 1992, p. 1.
All the Pretty Horses Essay
625 Words3 Pages
All the Pretty Horses John Grady Cole, the last in a long line of west Texas ranchers, is, at sixteen, poised on the sorrowful, painful edge of manhood. When he realizes the only life he has ever known is disappearing into the past and that cowboys are as doomed as the Comanche who came before them, he leaves on a dangerous and harrowing journey into the beautiful and utterly foreign world that is Mexico. In the guise of a classic Western, All the Pretty Horses is at its heart a lyrical and elegiac coming-of-age story about love, friendship, and loyalty that will leave John Grady, and the reader, changed forever. When his mother decides to sell the cattle ranch he has grown up working, John Grady Cole and his friend Lacey Rawlins…show more content…
On the run, they split up, with John Grady and Rawlins finding refuge on a hacienda where few questions are asked and a talent for breaking horses is still a source of honor, and where they fall into a routine as familiar to them as the shape of their saddles.
At night, John Grady rides the patron's prized sire through the mountains beyond the hacienda in the company of Alejandra, the patron's beautiful daughter. But in a land as bound by honor and reputation as this is, the white-hot love between John Grady and this girl is as dangerous as anything they will face. When soldiers arrive to take John Grady and Rawlins away, the boys know it has nothing to do with Jimmy Blevins, but is instead because of some deeper, more elusive transgression that John Grady has committed in the name of love. With no one to plead their case, their fate is dire indeed. John Grady and Rawlins find themselves in a Mexican prison governed by stark violence. But in the hands of Cormac McCarthy this place takes on a dreamlike quality; it is not right or wrong, good or evil, but merely as inevitable a part of life as the sun setting in the West, something that must be faced in order for one to survive. All the Pretty Horses is the first volume in the Border Trilogy (the second volume is entitled The Crossing; and the third, The Cities of