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Cities of the Plain: Border Trilogy (3) Paperback – May 25, 1999
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The Eagle Tree
A young boy must fight to protect what he loves, but can he do it without risking his family?Learn More
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On the ranch, John Grady joins up with Billy Parham, and the two form an abiding friendship. Though Parham is much more a realist, he finds himself drawn further into Grady's dreams, namely a beautiful teenaged Mexican whore whom John Grady is determined to release from bondage and to marry. Through physical injuries, personal trauma, and many dangerous trips across the Mexican border, the two young men struggle to do what they think will make things right. A full cast of cowboys, landowners, barkeeps, pimps, and desperate whores set the stage for the final curtain call on the American West. (running time 3 hours, 2 cassettes) --Colleen Preston --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Cormac McCarthy is known for his profoundly dark fiction and masterful reflections on the nature of good and evil. Visit Amazon's Cormac McCarthy Page.
Top Customer Reviews
This book, the third in that trilogy, has its shortcomings, but it is still one amazing piece of work.
In this book, John Grady Cole--the genius horsetrainer of "All the Pretty Horses"--and Billy Parham--the kindhearted nomad of "The Crossing"--come together as ranch hands on a New Mexico estancia. Both are older than they were in the previous books--Billy much older--but both are kindred spirits whose stories connect with and affect each another.
The book tends more heavily toward the lengthy philosophical monologues that appear only occasionally in the trilogy's earlier volumes, and the whole story at momemnts goes a little bit long if you've just read the two previous volumes right before.
However, the writing is gorgeous, and haunting. For example, in one passage, a dead calf's "ribcage lay with curved tines upturned on the gravel plain like some carnivorous plant brooding in the barren dawn." Yeah.
And the ending--the ending is amazing. It might not be quite what you expect or ask for, but it is thrilling in its perfectness, in its completess, in how true it feels.
It left me holding the book like a priceless religious relic, re-reading its back cover, flipping back through it to parts I had marked, reluctant and unwilling to let go of these characters or their world.
Cormac McCarthy is a literary genius. He has made the West tangible, taken its most ineffable qualities and turned them into words. He makes me homesick for the place I already live.
Do not start with this book, if you've never read his other works, but do work up to it. Do read it.
Times are changing as the 20th century progresses, and the independent life of ranchers is threatened. In The Crossing, a far darker novel, Billy Parham, another young man, takes off with his brother, crossing the border into Mexico, to explore its older traditions and ways of life. Cities of the Plain, with Biblical suggestions in the title, brings young John Grady Cole and the older Billy Parham together, as they work on the McGovern ranch in Texas in the 1950s. The wilderness is disappearing, cities are encroaching, and an army base may take their land.
Focusing less on the harshness of ranch life than in past novels, McCarthy here concentrates more on character, in this case, that of John Grady Cole, who falls in love with a prostitute from Juarez and wants to bring her across the border to his way of life. Billy Parham counsels him against marrying her, but John Grady is determined to wrest her away from Eduardo, her manager, and give her the peace that she has never known. Life is harsh, however, and outcomes are bleak for dreamers and altruists. John Grady soon finds himself engaged in a struggle with Eduardo which is vicious and unrelenting, a metaphorical struggle between honor and evil, and between civilized values and the "justice" of tooth and claw, hope and desperation, and acceptance of change and adherence to the past.Read more ›
I found CITIES, in terms of plot and style, to be less complex, more reader-friendly. However, even writing in this more traditional sense, McCarthy maintains the edge that sets him apart from most of his American contemporaries. The simplicity and poetry of the phrasing is still there, the marvelous descriptions, the dead perfect dialogue, still crisp and efficient.
And even though you know what's going to happen if you've read the earlier works, you can't help but be tantalized and magnetized and pulled along. The suspense and style that Larry Brown emulates in his southern underbelly novels is raised a couple levels by the hand of this master writer.
In creating this more readable conclusion to the Border Trilogy, McCarthy may have blown his chance at the Nobel (rumors of his shortlisting abound among the writers I've spoken to). But with CITIES, he allows us to go along for the ride with little more than a dusting off of that rusty Spanish.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
McCarthy is a genius--able to conveys more in one sentence than other authors manage in an entire book.Published 15 days ago by Mason G. Petty
As always, I love reading Cormac McCarthy. Had read the first two books in this trilogy years ago and got off track for some reason. Read morePublished 27 days ago by MP
Here again, very difficult reading... story was way to slow for me and did not have a real end.....Published 1 month ago by June Edington
The Border Trilogy is the best thing McCarthy ever wrote, capturing the restless and mournful spirit of the the dwindling old west in a tale of coming of age through a journey into... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Petunia
This book does not live up to the earlier novels in the trilogy. The writing is - of course - excellent. But the plot and pacing are pedestrian. I'd give this a pass. Read morePublished 2 months ago by JJGites
McCarthy develops the main character and then kills him off. Then he spends time philosophizing and totally lost me. Ironically, the ending was pretty good.Published 3 months ago by jdf
Amazing work by the greatest living writer. John Grady Cole and Billy breathe off the page and ride off into the sunset on another adventure as they come of age. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Melissa M. Franckowiak
A beautiful and haunting ending to a trilogy that I will never forgetPublished 6 months ago by T. Hansen