Cormac McCarthy is a quiet, unassuming presence in American fiction today, but like the slow, measured voices of many of his characters, he speaks with an authority and conviction that demands an audience. All the Pretty Horses, McCarthy's sixth novel, is a cowboy odyssey for modern times. Set in the late 1940s, it features the travels and toils of a 16-year-old East Texan named John Grady Cole, caught in the agonizing purgatory between adolescence and adulthood.
At the start of the novel, Cole's grandfather has just died, his parents have permanently separated, and the family ranch, upon which he had placed so many boyish hopes, has been sold. Rootless and increasingly restive, Cole leaves Texas, accompanied by his friend Lacey Rawlins, and begins a journey across the vaquero frontier into the badlands of northern Mexico. In spite of its hard realities and spare telling, All the Pretty Horses is a lyrical and richly romantic story, chronicling - along with the erosion of the frontier - the loss of an era.
©1992 Cormac McCarthy; (P)1992 Recorded Books, LLC
National Book Award, 1992
"This is a novel so exuberant in its prose, so offbeat in its setting and so mordant and profound in its deliberations that one searches in vain for comparisons in American literature." (Publishers Weekly)
The plot relies heavily on dialogue, which is frequently in Spanish with no English translation or context. It also employs frequent use of technical terms related to horses. Thus, the story is difficult to follow without some knowledge of Spanish and horses! The narrative verse is lovely, poetic, and rich with imagery, but it tends to stand still in time. This reader was very confused about what was happening throughout most of the book, including the events and the characters' motivations. This book was a big disappointment!
There's another reviewer said this book is too slow. It is slow, but I'm not sure that's the point. The writing, the scenery, the characters are so Beautiful, I found myself hitting the repeat last 30 seconds button over and over again. A great audiobook.
Also, the performance is spectacular. I don't imagine this prose is the easiest to read, but this reader performs it thoughtfully and with Grace, and it's a joy to listen to.
Another stark, gut wrenching window into the depths of a soul by McCarthy. He is such a powerful writer and captures the horror and beauty of humanity, and "all the Pretty Horses" just does that. The book will leave you raw and disquieted and wondering what does anything mean.....powerful writing!
This is a book of such astounding magnificence it is hard to believe. In 50 years of reading fiction I have rarely, if ever, come across such proud literary merit. I have read other Cormack McCarthy books and had developed great respect for his talent, but "All The Pretty Horses" is a masterpiece. The presentation is also the best I've ever encountered with Audiobooks. Don't miss it.
The narrator was great. I recommend that if you don't have a rudimentary understanding of Spanish that you have a Spanish to English reference tool available.
I thought the story was a bit slow. The descriptive style was nice and exactly what I would expect from this author. If you haven't read it, I would start with Blood Meridian instead.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
"Cowboys like smoky old pool rooms & clear mountain mornins,
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night."
Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys, Bruce, 1975.
I found this by far the most readable of Cormac McCarthy's novels. All the Pretty Horses is in many ways an elegiac novel about the death of the Old West and cowboys and the western lifestyle as a way of life. Thus it differs substantially from McCarthy's typical view of the world as cesspool.
The novel opens in 1949 with the funeral of the grandfather of sixteen year old John Grady Cole (JG). His grandfather's 2,300 acre cattle ranch has been in the family since 1866. His mom intends to sell it though. His parents have been split for 7 years, since dad returned from WW II. Dad says he and JG's mom shared a love of horses and he thought that was enough to make their marriage last.
In the twilight after granddad's funeral, JG rides out to the edge of the ranch and imagines painted horses and riders pledged in blood and thinks he can hear the heavy breathing and hooves of the horses in the north wind. He pines for the days of the open range and living by the horse and loving the women.
JG and his friend Rawlins (both 16) set out about 130 miles toward the Rio Grande where they cross into Mexico and embark on a romantic (maybe quixotic) journey to live the cowboy life full of cattle, vaqueros, horses, run-ins with the law, burritos and a forbidden love.
If someone has McCarthy on her/his bucket list, but abandoned another McCarthy novel due to the "failure to appreciate" his normal bleak exceedingly abstruse journey into a vortex of violence and despair, you should read this rumbling book of romanticism.
“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
Slow to get going but evolves into a gripping story featuring some fantastic imagery and engaging characters
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