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The Crossing (The Border Trilogy, Book 2) Paperback – March 14, 1995

4.3 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Border Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The opening section of The Crossing, book two of the Border Trilogy, features perhaps the most perfectly realized storytelling of Cormac McCarthy's celebrated career. Like All the Pretty Horses, this volume opens with a teenager's decision to slip away from his family's ranch into Mexico. In this case, the boy is Billy Parham, and the catalyst for his trip is a wolf he and his father have trapped, but that Billy finds himself unwilling to shoot. His plan is to set the animal loose down south instead.

This is a McCarthy novel, not Old Yeller, and so Billy's trek inevitably becomes more ominous than sweet. It boasts some chilling meditations on the simple ferocity McCarthy sees as necessary for all creatures who aim to continue living. But Billy is McCarthy's most loving--and therefore damageable--character, and his story has its own haunted melancholy.

Billy eventually returns to his ranch. Then, finding himself and his world changed, he returns to Mexico with his younger brother, and the book begins meandering. Though full of hypnotically barren landscapes and McCarthy's trademark western-gothic imagery (like the soldier who sucks eyes from sockets), these latter stages become tedious at times, thanks partly to the female characters, who exist solely as ghosts to haunt the men.

But that opening is glorious, and the whole book finally transcends its shortcomings to achieve a grim and poignant grandeur. --Glen Hirshberg

From Publishers Weekly

This second volume of McCarthy's Border Trilogy-an 11-week PW bestseller-follows two teenage boys across the American Southwest and Mexico in the years before WWII.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More from Cormac McCarthy
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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679760849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679760849
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island. He later went to Chicago, where he worked as an auto mechanic while writing his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. The Orchard Keeper was published by Random House in 1965; McCarthy's editor there was Albert Erskine, William Faulkner's long-time editor. Before publication, McCarthy received a traveling fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which he used to travel to Ireland. In 1966 he also received the Rockefeller Foundation Grant, with which he continued to tour Europe, settling on the island of Ibiza. Here, McCarthy completed revisions of his next novel, Outer Dark. In 1967, McCarthy returned to the United States, moving to Tennessee. Outer Dark was published by Random House in 1968, and McCarthy received the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1969. His next novel, Child of God, was published in 1973. From 1974 to 1975, McCarthy worked on the screenplay for a PBS film called The Gardener's Son, which premiered in 1977. A revised version of the screenplay was later published by Ecco Press. In the late 1970s, McCarthy moved to Texas, and in 1979 published his fourth novel, Suttree, a book that had occupied his writing life on and off for twenty years. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, and published his fifth novel, Blood Meridian, in 1985. All the Pretty Horses, the first volume of The Border Trilogy, was published by Knopf in 1992. It won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was later turned into a feature film. The Stonemason, a play that McCarthy had written in the mid-1970s and subsequently revised, was published by Ecco Press in 1994. Soon thereafter, Knopf released the second volume of The Border Trilogy, The Crossing; the third volume, Cities of the Plain, was published in 1998.McCarthy's next novel, No Country for Old Men was published in 2005. This was followed in 2006 by a novel in dramatic form, The Sunset Limited, originally performed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago and published in paperback by Vintage Books. McCarthy's most recent novel, The Road, was published in 2006 and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Photo © Derek Shapton

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It begins as an innocent story of two young brothers, Billy Parham, 16 and Boyd Parham, 14 giving food to an Indian. Billy and Boyd live on a ranch with their parents in New Mexico and are required to help with the work there. One of Billies tasks is to trap a wolf who is attacking and killing their cattle. Billy becomes intrigued by the primitive and wild creature, who seems to intelligently elude capture. He attempts to learn about the wolf by asking an old and learned man about the ways of wolves. As Billy begins to feel a kinship with the wolf he discovers it caught in one of his traps. He realizes that he cannot kill it and impulsively sets out for the Mexican border to return the wolf to where it came from. By crossing the border, Billy adventures into an nether world. It is not simply another country, but another reality.
We could easily call The Crossing a coming of age story, an adventure story, a quest or an epic poem, but it is all that and much more. As with any coming of age story, Billy Parham loss of innocence comes with a price of great consequence. Like an adventure story The Crossing is filled with action and unexpected situations. As with tales of quests as the Iliad and Gulliver's Travels we meet strange and interesting creatures along Billy's path. Like an epic poem The Crossing is filled with lyrical prose, both in Spanish and English.
Cormac McCarthy is one of the great American authors of the twentieth century and he proves it in once again in the Crossing the second book of his border trilogy. His prose is beautiful to read, with dialogue devoid of quotation marks and contractions missing apostrophes. He shifts from English to Spanish can be challenging to the non-Spanish reader. His scenes rich with descriptors can be stark and ruthless.
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Format: Hardcover
Well what can I say. More brilliant writing by a master AND for the first time I found myself laughing -a lot- while reading a McCarthy book. I know you might not believe me, but truly there are some extremely funny bits in this story. [My husband kept looking at me wondering if perhaps I had slipped the dusk jack for "The Crossing" onto another book. ]

And alas, lest you wonder, McCarthy was just leading me on. Up, up he took me. Wonderful story (expected). Humor (okay, not expected). But I was laughing and soaring and I was beginning to wonder if this book might be wildly different from the others. Certainly neither "The Road", nor "Blood Meridian" had me cackling: those were all grim fare. But rest assured. As high as McCarthy took me, that was where he dropped me from. It was a long plummet but finally I was back on familiar territory... heart torn out... feelings wrenched and twisted.

Five Stars. "The Crossing" is a McCarthy story that should make you laugh and then cry. Simply a wonderful tale with characters to care about. Exquisite prose.
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Format: Audio Cassette Verified Purchase
Cormac McCarthy is a national treasure. The Crossing begins with a long section where the protagonist, Billy Parham, is tracking a she-wolf, setting traps which she fails to get caught in, finally catching her, then being unable to kill her. So he sets off to Mexico from his home in NM, planning to return her to the mountains where from which she surely came. Things don't quite work out the way he'd planned.
And when he returns home, he finds his world forever changed. He and his brother, Boyd, return to Mexico to try to find his father's stolen horses and the men who stole them. Again, things don't quite work out as planned.
Without saying too much that would reveal the plot line, I'll mention that Billy eventually sets out to Mexico a third time on a mission of reclamation and redemption. And yet again, all does not go according to plan.
Along the way, there are long stretches of other travelers or characters Billy meets who tell their stories: a priest, a blind man, a gypsy, among others. The overall effect is one of melancholy, and of course, having been written by such a consummate master of the art, the eloquence of the language shines through everywhere. As a side benefit, you'll learn or re-learn quite a bit of Spanish along the way. I began by rewinding the tape and doing word for word translations from my rusty memory. By about tape #6 I became aware that I was understanding the Spanish perfectly, scarcely aware he'd shifted into it.
Spectacular book on tape.
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Format: Paperback
I first came upon Cormac McCarthy during my AP English Test in the Spring of 1999 when I had to do a style analysis of the prose from "The Crossing" where Billy had the dream of the she-wolf and how he imagined her running free with the dears and voles and so on. Well I after the test I hated Cormac McCarthy and after receiving my test score I hated him even more. (You do not want to know my score.) But for some unknown reasons I was fascinated with his writing style. It was so beautiful and yet hollow, like a meandering river leading to nowhere. So I bought the "The Crossing." I did not read it immediately. I read it about six months later. At first it was slow but afterward the text became hypnotic and it coerced my mind into a world of haunting beauty and wanton loneliness. It revealed loneliness in you. Is that possible? Coming to the part near the end of Part I and also to where I had to do a style analysis of I found that part to be the most beautiful and incredible moving text I have ever read because the text was rich and it made you like you were Billy and that the someplace you have been or dreamed of before you cannot revisit again. It was simple heart breaking to hear how the words describe how Billy imagined, "Where she ran the cries of the coyotes clapped shut as if a door had closed upon them and all was fear and marvel." The she-wolf to me then seems to be symbolic of the mankind lost or forgotten or dying in certain time and a certain place (remember what Billy thought when he tasted her blood).
After reading this desolately beautiful novel, I read "All the Pretty Houses" and then "Cities of the Plain." However "The Crossing" is in my opinion the best in the trilogy because. . . . .
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