All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

In 1949, two teenage boys leave their homes in Texas and ride their horses to Mexico. They meet another boy along the way, who eventually loses his horse and winds up in jail. The other boys get jobs working on a big ranch. One of them, the main character, falls in love with the rancher’s daughter. Unfortunately, the police are on their trail, wrongly believing that all three boys are horse thieves. Things do not go well after that.

All the Pretty Horses is the first novel in McCarthy’s Border Trilogy. I don’t know if I’ll read the next one. This one was worth reading, but not very convincing. The main character, who is 16 or 17, is almost a superhero. In addition, the novel contains way too many run-on sentences and too much dialog in Spanish.

Two passages near the end of the book:

“He stood at the window of the empty cafe and watched the activities in the square and he said that it was good that God kept the truths of life from the young as they were starting out or else they’d have no heart to start at all.”

“… for a moment he held out his hands as if to steady himself or as if to bless the ground there or perhaps as if to slow the world that was rushing away and seemed to care nothing for the old or the young or rich or poor or dark or pale or he or she. Nothing for their struggles, nothing for their names. Nothing for the living or the dead.”  (11/19/12)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Apparently there has been a nuclear war, resulting in nuclear winter. What remains of the world is grey and desolate, with ash falling from the sky. The people who are still alive in this part of America are divided between those who eat people and those who fear being eaten. A man and his young son journey on foot toward the ocean, scavenging for old canned goods along the way, trying to stay warm and avoiding strangers. The father is incredibly resourceful. The boy is resilient. I’ve avoided seeing the movie because it sounds too intense. It probably is. It’s clear that they’ve had these conversations before.

It’s hard to find such a sad and depressing book enjoyable, but it is certainly worth reading. The most enjoyable parts of the book are the conversations between father and son. They discuss their options. The man tries to reassure the boy.

I kept wondering how the book would end. The ending could have been a lot worse. (3/24/11)

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

A man finds a couple million dollars of drug money and is pursued by killers who want what he found. One of the killers is strangely philosophical to the point of being inhuman. A county sheriff investigates and eventually decides it’s time to retire. It’s not a happy story.

The book moves quickly. The Texas locale and dialog are wonderfully rendered. The sheriff’s words and thoughts are particularly well-done. Even so, the movie added something, especially the performances of Javier Bardem as the otherworldly psychopath and Tommy Lee Jones as the troubled sheriff (the actor grew up in that part of Texas). I’m going to see about reading more of McCarthy’s work.  (1/21/11)