Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses: the closest I'll get to being a cowboy is by reading about it.

All The Pretty Horses is a work of genius.

CORMAC MCCARTHY'S All The Pretty Horses is a work of genius. Sixteen-year old John Cole Grady leaves home after his mother sells their San Angelo, Texas ranch. He persuades his bestfriend Lacey Rawlins to go with him on a journey to Mexico where cattle and ranches abound. The journey is epic.  As they move further south they meet Jimmy Blevins who gets them into all sorts of trouble. In Mexico Grady and Cole find employment in a ranch owned by a rich and influential hacendero who immediately takes a liking to them, particularly to Grady. The hacendero has a daughter so beautiful Grady cannot take his mind off her. Her name is Alejandra, a strong-willed young lady who likes riding horses and chooses to defy age-old traditions in pursuit of happiness.

I read the book in very selected circumstances—only when I was at home, and only when it was quiet, and I wasn't sleepy. When I read it I was painting a picture of the landscape, so beautiful yet deadly. I wanted peace and quiet because in my mind I was recreating the accent with the familiar Southern drawl. 

McCarthy downplays the emotions, and yet the excitement of John Grady is infectious when Alejandra invites him to a dance; his sadness is overpowering when he realizes, without anyone telling him, that his father is dead.  

McCarthy creates an idyllic topography, describes the vegetation, the soil, and the sun—he writes like nobody else. It must be life-changing to be there when the red sun sets, when the cold wind blows in the desert night!

The journey is, in fact, a pilgrimage, for all John Cole Grady wants is a place to settle in, to find another home where his restless heart will finally find peace. We don't know if he has found peace at all in the end, but we hope for the best.



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