All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy

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McCarthy is one of my favorite writers, as I’ve written about here and here and here. His prose is astounding, and the images he creates stay with you for a long time. The NY Times compares his writing favorably with Faulkner’s — and I have to say that it’s more meaningful to me than anything I’ve read by Faulkner, which I find, um…difficult.

All the Pretty Horses is the first novel in the Border Trilogy, which McCarthy started in the early 90s (the other two books are The Crossing and Cities of the Plain). It’s a series of Westerns set in the border country on the edges of Texas and Mexico.

This is a pretty simple story about a couple of adolescent cowboys who leave their homes in Texas to make their way as ranch hands in Mexico, and what happens when they get there. The prose is sometimes serene, sometimes sweeping, and sometimes very difficult, but this is a great book, like the others I’ve read by McCarthy. It’s not quite as staggering an achievement as The Road, and doesn’t have quite the pacing of No Country for Old Men, but is nonetheless excellent.

4 Replies to “All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy”

  1. I read this book for my senior seminar, which was thematically “medieval romance,” and we examined the ways in which ATPH exhibited some of its key characteristics.Yes, tough prose–little punctuation–but certainly not as difficult as, say, Faulkner, though it’s been compared to that quite often.The story itself is unimpressive to me; it resounds on a different realm than plot. I think it successfully captures the feel of the decay of the old west particularly well, though.

  2. I read this book for my senior seminar, which was thematically “medieval romance,” and we examined the ways in which ATPH exhibited some of its key characteristics.

    Yes, tough prose–little punctuation–but certainly not as difficult as, say, Faulkner, though it’s been compared to that quite often.

    The story itself is unimpressive to me; it resounds on a different realm than plot. I think it successfully captures the feel of the decay of the old west particularly well, though.

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