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Butcher’s Crossing | [John Williams]

Butcher’s Crossing

In the 1870s, Will Andrews, fired up by Emerson to seek "an original relation to nature," drops out of Harvard and heads west. He washes up in Butcher's Crossing, a small Kansas town full of restless men looking for ways to make money and ways to waste it. One of these men regales Will with tales of the immense buffalo herds hidden away in the Colorado Rockies and convinces him to join an expedition to track them down.
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Publisher's Summary

It is the 1870s, and Will Andrews, fired up by Emerson to seek ''an original relation to nature,'' drops out of Harvard and heads west. He washes up in Butcher's Crossing, a small Kansas town on the outskirts of nowhere. Butcher's Crossing is full of restless men looking for ways to make money and ways to waste it. Before long Andrews strikes up a friendship with one of them, a man who regales Andrews with tales of immense herds of buffalo, ready for the taking, hidden away in a beautiful valley deep in the Colorado Rockies. He convinces Andrews to join in an expedition to track the animals down.

The journey out is grueling, but at the end is a place of paradisiacal richness. Once there, however, the three men abandon themselves to an orgy of slaughter, so caught up in killing buffalo that they lose all sense of time. Winter soon overtakes them: they are snowed in. Next spring, half-insane with cabin fever, cold, and hunger, they stagger back to Butcher's Crossing to find a world as irremediably changed as they have been.

©1988 John Williams (P)2010 Blackstone Audio

What the Critics Say

“Harsh and relentless yet muted in tone, Butcher’s Crossing paved the way for Cormac McCarthy. It was perhaps the first and best revisionist western.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“[This story] becomes a young man's search for the integrity of his own being....The characters are defined, the events lively, the place, the smells, the sounds right. And the prose is superb." (Chicago Tribune)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (59 )
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4.1 (46 )
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Story
4.2 (46 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ann K New York, NY USA 08-29-14
    Ann K New York, NY USA 08-29-14 Member Since 2014

    Ann

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The incomparable John Williams goes west"

    Three such different books -- Augustus, Stoner, and Butcher's Crossing -- all memorable. This one takes the tired western genre and kicks it back up to literary masterpiece, a coming of age tale told with cinematic sweep and exquisite writing. Some sections were so thrilling that I listened 2X. I mean twice, not doublespeed!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ben 02-24-15
    Ben 02-24-15 Member Since 2015

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    "Terrific book"

    This is a great novel, beautifully written and the plot picks up and gets quite suspenseful. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-2 of 2 results
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  • Paul
    4/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful Book"
    Where does Butcher's Crossing rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was the second audio book I tried and after having a difficult time with the first one and almost abandoning the audio format for being too long and boring. This reading surprised me as to how interesting a well read, story line book could be. It is one of my favorite books. Most people will discover this book after reading Stoner – also an excellent book. In my opinion Butchers crossing is better.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The pace and the development and depth of the characters throughout the book. A previous reviewer has commented that they wished the story was longer and I whole heartedly agree. I was a book I was sad to finish.


    What does Anthony Heald bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Heald tells the story in an engaging way bringing the characters to life. Each character sounds as I imagine they would.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes – It is one of the few times I have wished my 2 hour commute was longer.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • James
    Chester, United Kingdom
    7/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Another quietly compelling novel"

    This is a novel that sets its clock against the reader's world and insists you go with it, and that is appropriate for a novel devoted to the last moments of a vanished time. The ending, elegiac and moving, is its very point, and well worth reaching, and the novel's slowly involving pace is rewarding and, again, part of what this novel teaches us about time, how we use it and lose it. Williams's novels tell us what we have lost in an age where novels speak down to us and no longer ask us to reach and to adjust ourselves to what they have to say.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Péter
    Plymouth, United Kingdom
    3/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An Out-of-time Travel In 10 Hours"

    OK, you have read 'Stoner'. Here's an early masterpiece, an astonishing debut novel by John Williams.
    For the first time in my life I think a novel can be too short. The second part could have been much longer. Even so the description of that tormented year in the valley and surroundings offered me an utterly out-of-time experience. Like the young fellow, I returned mutilated in spirit to read the unpredictable third part. Every paragraph is an essay, a poem, a wiseman's testimony itself.
    The narrator is like a wandering ham from the early 1900's, his vocal art fits very well to the novel. Buy and enjoy!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. S.A.Montgomery,
    1/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Western!"

    What a story. A young man looking for experience and the reason for his existence arrives at Butchers Crossing with the sole purpose to go buffalo hunting. While reading this story the reader will also go buffalo hunting. He will know what it is like to ride for days sore and raw in the saddle, experience great thirst and hunger, heat and cold. This is an amazing descriptive account. Superb writing. The narrator does extremely well too and his American accent lends all the more authenticity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jeffrey Barnes
    11/23/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The stylish John Williams"
    What made the experience of listening to Butcher's Crossing the most enjoyable?

    A coming of maturity in a challenging frontier landscape. A good tale of individuals surviving wild nature told with consummate and stylish descriptive prose. Williams’s style lets one taste the landscape that backdrops the unfolding events. An allegory of meaningless slaughter spurred by passing fashion and extinguished by fashion passing.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • hfffoman
    Kent
    5/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Shows the economic harshness of the untamed west"
    What made the experience of listening to Butcher's Crossing the most enjoyable?

    Detailed and realistic


    Any additional comments?

    The descriptions were detailed and felt accurate and well researched. Some of the attempts to get inside the hero's mind were not so convincing. The performance was excellent in dialogue and slightly mannered in narration. The volume fluctuated, which was a slight nuisance for me listening while driving. More precisely, I would give it between 4 and 5 stars for each category.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results

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