I detest the grim and grisly fatalism that characterizes Cormac McCarthy's fictional worlds, with their devastatingly senseless violence. But I read his novels with a profound satisfaction I get from few other writers. I think this is the most powerful testament I can give to the miracle that is McCarthy's language: I savor his books despite my distaste for some of their "substance." I was trudging through a painfully bad novel recently and couldn't bear it anymore, so I picked up The Crossing. From the first lines it was like I had landed on a king-sized feather bed, plush with pillows; I felt like I could read all day.
The Crossing follows a young man as he learns the harsh rules of life in the wild US southwest and Mexico. That lawless environment brings much death and waste, but the very matter of the landscape itself, its textures, sights, sounds, and smells, comes vividly alive in McCarthy's invigorating prose. Deceptively sparse, that prose is dense with vibrant imagery that reminds me of Herman Melville, especially in the way McCarthy puts objects under his verbal microscope—his specialized vocabulary allows the reader to map every bump and dip in the terrain, for instance, or to see the most obscure items that make up the hero's horse tack. If you enjoy the pure act of reading and the conjuring act a great writer can perform, you can't go wrong with this book!
I'm reading a lot of McCarthy's books recently, and I thoroughly enjoyed The Crossing. Beautiful writing throughout. This passage, following the death of the she-wolf and his wandering in the wilderness, summed the book up for me. The wolf had lost her place in the world, and now he, wolf-like, lost his:
"When he walked out into the sun and untied the horse from the parking meter people passing in the street turned to look at him. Something in off the wild mesas, something out of the past. Ragged, dirty, hungry in eye and belly. Totally unspoken for. In that outlandish figure they beheld what they envied most and what they most reviled. If their hearts went out to him it was yet true that for very small cause they might also have killed him."
The Crossing is the second novel in McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy . It charts the life-altering experiences of two brothers, Billy and Boyd Parham. After the older brother Billy traps a marauding she-wolf, instead of killing the animal, he seeks to restore it to its home in the remote Mexican mountains. Upon his return to his family’s ranch, Billy discovers an unspeakable tragedy has occurred. He reunites with Boyd, and the brothers head back across the border in search of answers to what happened. Their journey puts them in the path of wanderers, philosophers, bandits, and entertainers. Against the backdrop of America’s entrance into the Second World War, the story both drains and fills the heart. McCarthy’s remarkable language skills and his incredible narrative abilities explore the profoundest questions of human existence and the keenest of lessons regarding the human condition. In chronicling the plight of his young heroes, he brings great compassion and understanding to the notions of loss and redemption. The Crossing is a major achievement and one of McCarthy’s most impressive books. It can be read separately from All the Pretty Horses, which serves as volume one of the trilogy.
After reading my third McCarthy novel in one year, I have no problem with connecting multiple lines with the word "and." When I read his novels, I feel a special privilege for living in New Mexico and being able to imagine the landscape through personal experiences, unlike many others who rely on movies to fuel their imagination of the Southwest. Having a knowledge of Spanish will also help the reader, I was able to ask my parents if there was a word I didn't know (or paragraph). Reading his novels gives me a sense of acknowledgement and appreciation to my culture and background, especially considering how many white people forget the original cowboys were the vaqueros.
I think this is my least favorite novel of his yet, but mostly because it is a rather long read when you consider his writing style. However the length is needed as the main character will make numerous crossings through the border. The last 40 pages will connect the entire novel and the ending may leave you heartbroken. It's a beautiful story worth the read.
A commentary on the mythology of the West including the relationship of good and evil. Slowed down by the considerable amount of Spanish in the dialogue that I needed to translate. Otherwise the novel is evocative with good pacing and interesting characterizations. Part two of the author's "Border Trilogy" but it is not a sequel and does not reading in order. Worth reading if you are interested.
Really liked All the Pretty Horses. The Crossing kept my interested until the Wolf died and then I thought it went a little stale. But that scene during the Dog Fights will stick in my mind forever. To be a boy/young man and make a choice like that shocked me.
The reading was slowed by having to consult a Castillian - English dictionary often on account of the amount of Castillian in it. Relatively little goes on, and the style makes it a bit trying at times. The lengthy monologue about a third of the way through is the highlight of the book.
Didn't finish. Good writing, but historical western didn't interest me.
This novel makes me glad that I can read. So beautifully written: A perfect offering of fiction.
Part Two of he Border Trilogy.
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