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The Crossing Hardcover – June 7, 1994
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Young Billy Parham, in a horse stall, dreams of his father's eyes, "those eyes that seemed to contemplate with a terrible equanimity the cold and the dark and the silence that moved upon him." Billy could as well be dreaming of McCarthy's prose and the unsparing tone of this, the second volume in the Border Trilogy. The Crossing , following the award-winning and bestselling All the Pretty Horses , is set in the American Southwest and in Mexico, and features, like its predecessor, teenage boys, their horses, a girl and the recurring spectacles of desert days and nights, awful wonders and appalling deprivations, and no small amount of roadside philosophizing. The story of Billy, his younger brother Boyd, the fates of their horses, a wolf, their parents and their dog, set against a vague and distant backdrop of the coming Second World War, throws little light upon a universe without much meaning, though it is in the nature of McCarthy characters to try to anyway. In the end, when the last dog is hanged, so to speak, what survives is the rhythm of McCarthy's open, ropey sentences circling a logic as inscrutable as an animal's or a god's. Although no mysteries are solved, and no comfort gained for these lonely characters, there is that language wrestling to earth all that it cannot know and all that it can. Readers again will be in awe of McCarthy's extraordinary prose attentions--the biblical cadences, the freshened vocabulary, the taut, vivid renderings of the struggle to live. 200,000 first printing; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
The Crossing is a good enough story. McCarthy's prose is powerful and carries the book where his actual story lags. The main character Billy Parham sets off to Mexico and ... (see other reviews for story details). Point is: McCarthy has poor Billy wandering all over the countryside, meeting mostly monosyllabic characters but occasionally meeting someone who has the mind of a Kierkegaard or Thoreau. Seriously. McCarthy has to do this because of his "God" pov. He never gets into any single character's head -- not really. I think I saw one "he thought" in the final 100 pages of the book. So, be aware of what you're getting into. The scenery/setting *is* a character. That's just McCarthy.
So: I admire McCarthy's prose style, very much, but at the same time I can say that the characters in this book read to me as either very flat or outrageously unreal. It's that "God" pov again. Because McCarthy the writer has so much to say, he must find a way to say it, either as "God" or through a character. He's best handling "God" through his own voice, because when he gives that voice to a character it becomes wildly unreal. There are, literally, pages and pages of text spoken by characters that could read from a philosophy textbook. Or Mann's Magic Mountain. If you want to go there, great! (As an aside, in Blood Meridian this works magically because those lines/philosophy are given to the judge, one of the greatest characters in all American literature.) Here, it doesn't always work, for me. By the end of The Crossing I felt that Billy Parham is a pretty dumb young man, indeed, almost deserving all he's gotten.
I recommend this book for any fan of McCarthy. And if you've not read any McCarthy at all, I'd recommend as a first read something else of his, like Child of God or No Country for Old Men, or even All the Pretty Horses. Savor his finest novel -- what I believe is one of the finest works of literature ever written: Blood Meridian.
PS: When reading The Crossing you'll want to have a computer nearby to look up both English and Spanish terms. Unless you read Spanish, you'll also want to have A Translation of Spanish Passages in The Crossing. Just search "mccarthy the crossing spanish words" and you'll find a pdf file for (most of but not all) the book's Spanish language text.
I liked it
Not reading Spanish leaves holes in the story. It has all the rough simple prose of cormac McCarthy though. A wonderful writer
The heart that beats in The Crossing is our own heart, and it is unfolded here with a clarity, depth, and authenticity that belies the apparent simplicity of the telling, and the inevitability of that heart's undoing.
Quixotic, tragic, communal, ancient, and vatic. In my opinion the most forceful, lyrical, and possessing the most ingenious construction of the Border Trilogy volumes.
Don't allow labels like "western", "horse romance", or even "picaresque" throw you off the scent - McCarthy defies genre. More accurately, he plays with it, parodies it, and sets it on its head and gives it a spin. "Things separate from their stories have no meaning," the older boy learns along the way from an unhinged old priest. Indeed. Here there be wolves.
If you are a fan of the mystery genre, get this book right now.
of farmers in his very rural part of New Mexico. He does catch the wolf, but he becomes so in awe of it that he wants
to take it to the mountains of northern Mexico to set it free. From there on, it just becomes a breathtaking story, and
written by one of the true geniuses of contemporary fiction. It's just 127 pages, and it's truly one of the most moving
pieces of fiction I've ever read. The last page will take to a spiritual depth you can hardly imagine.
Prepare to laugh, and prepare to cry, hard. Much lighter than McCarthy works such as Blood Meridian or The Road, but still has very sharp teeth.
I've probably read this and All The Pretty Horses three or four times each, they're that good and that enjoyable.