All the Pretty Horses:
The first volume of the Border Trilogy tells of young John Grady Cole, the last of a long line of Texas ranchers. Across the border Mexico beckons - beautiful and desolate, rugged and cruelly civilized. With two companions, he sets off on an idyllic, sometimes comic adventure, to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.
The Crossing: In the late 1930's, 16-year-old Billy Parham captures a she-wolf that has been marauding his family's ranch. But instead of killing it, he decides to take it back to the mountains of Mexico. With that crossing, he beings an arduous and often dreamlike journey into a country where men meet like ghosts and violence strikes as suddenly as heat-lightening - a world where there is no order "save that which death has put there."
Cities of the Plain: It is 1952 and John Grady Cole and Billy Parham are working as ranch hands in New Mexico, not far from the proving grounds of Alamogordo and the cities of El Paso and Juarez. Their life is made up of trail drives and horse auctions and stories told by campfire light. They value that life all the more because they know it is about to change forever.
©1992; 1994; 1999 Cormac McCarthy (P)2005 Random House Audio
McCarthy's ability to give details in describing a character's actions makes the story feel immediate--the inner life of the character is mostly defined by his actions. I enjoy the way he brings the place--especially Mexico in the '40's--vividly to life. I enjoy the prophets Billy encounters on his odyssey, and the way in which McCarthy weaves dreams and prophecies into the story's tapestry.The Crossing is by far my favorite of the three novels. As a modern masterpiece, it holds its own among the best coming-of-age adventures of this or any century. All three books take place in an era when horses were being replaced by cars--the young cowboys in these stories are on the verge of becoming throwbacks, which places them and their experience in a rare, slanted light. Also, WWII is about to change the world forever.My mother was a native New Mexican coming of age in the same time period, in the same part of the world, namely a ranch in Southern New Mexico, not far from the Mexican border. The era, the themes, and the settings for these stories are therefore deeply romantic and poignant for me.
My favorite character was Billy in The Crossing, because of his stoicism, his mission to take the wolf home--unabashedly romantic--and his strong connection to the wolf.
Pitt did well with the dialog in English, though his speech is a bit mushy; but his Spanish pronunciation was very poor. McCarthy includes much dialog in Spanish, which the cowboy characters speak, presumably well, and the Mexicans speak. The author does not condescend to translate, so the reader/listener must know Spanish; or stop to look the meanings up; or glean the meaning more or less from context. I speak Spanish, so enjoyed the flow of dialog as written in the book (I had read these books previously.) Pitt read too fast and his Spanish pronunciation so bad that I had to turn the audiotape off.
Abridged versions of the books: I had already read these books by Cormac McCarthy and did not know when I bought the audiotapes that the stories were severely abridged. Some of the more poetic passages were omitted, which was unacceptable to me.
Also, if a book has passages in Spanish, it is absolutely essential to hire someone who reads well in Spanish to do the audiotape.
Not better. Different. It's nice to see this collection available again. It was released years ago on cassette and has been a favorite of mine since then. It's abridged, but that's the only knock I can give it. Brad Pitt surprises as he absolutely nails the tones and cadences of these young men of the Southwest. McCarthy's spare prose and knowledge of Western speech and movement and even weather resonate throughout. He writes men and their horses like no one else I know of. You can hear the creak of saddle leather and the whisper of a catch rope snaking through the air. It's too bad they are abridged, (that's the only reason for the 4 stars from me) but the guts of the story is there, and the reader is fully worthy of his material. Too bad he's too busy and too successful these days to do more of this.
The way the characters are woven into a series of stories where they appear and disappear over time.
John Grady Cole and Billy and Boyd Parham are archetypes of a time and place that were alive from the 1850s into the 1950s and are now gone. They are a package deal in these stories; none better or worse or more or less interesting than the other.
I wouldn't recommend it unreservedly.
I would have had someone read all three books in their entirety.
Faux western and fast.
Part of it has been filmed with Matt Damon as lead.
"An absolute treat"
These three stories are brilliantly read by Brad Pitt. He 'gets' McCarthy completely. In his reading, Pitt draws attention to McCarthy's dry humour and brings alive his rich descriptions of the landscape; he also displays his own intelligence and wit. I didn't want the stories to end......I don't know why but I hadn't expected Brad Pitt to be such a great narrator.
The sound of the southern drawl. Superb.
"cities of the plain - omissions"
I would recommend this novel. It is an interesting to read a Post war US book.
Loved Brad Pitt reading the book.
But as I bought this version for son to hear as he read the book as he is dyslexic it is really disappointing that parts of the text are missing. Whole paragraphs are missed out, so he looses his place quickly as he can't skim down to where the story re- starts. So it is bit of a waste of money.
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