Monday, April 16, 2012
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Yeah, said John Grady. I guess that's a good idea.
They spread their soogans and he pulled off his boots and stood them beside him and stretched out in his blankets. The fire had burned to coals and he lay looking up at the stars in their places and the hot belt of matter that ran the chord of the dark vault overhead and he put his hands on the ground at either side of him and pressed them against the earth and in that coldly burning canopy of black he slowly turned dead center to the world, all of it taut and trembling and moving enormous and alive under his hands.
Well damn. I didn't know what to think when I started this, and I'm forever grateful to the friends who gave it to me. I'd read The Road, and knew how lyrical and cold and beautiful Cormac McCarthy's writing can be, but damn. He loves something about bleak landscapes, or they bring out the best in his style, which is so spare most of the time that it just knocks you dead in passages like this. John Grady's just fallen for the daughter of the hacendado who owns the ranch he's started working on in nowhere, Mexico, but instead of lovestruck ramblings he feels the earth 'taut and trembling and moving enormous and alive under his hands.'
It's like Cormac McCarthy uses his protagonists to express something about the ideal of real manhood, and this time the ideal involves stoicism, extreme self-reliance, and riding horseback into Mexico with a rifle and no absolutely no plan. This may be my new favorite book (I think I say that too often), just because of the lyrical, dark beauty that comes out of an empty, scrub-desert landscape and follows a man and his horse. If you need me I'll be in Mexico.