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All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1) Paperback – Print, June 29, 1993
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"Rambunctious, high-spirited...All the Pretty Horses is a true American original." --Newsweek
From the Inside Flap
Now a major motion picture from Columbia Pictures starring Matt Damon, produced by Mike Nichols, and directed by Billy Bob Thornton.
The national bestseller and the first volume in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.
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Sadly, I cannot recommend this book.
Small parts of the book are incomprehensible, unless the reader knows native Mexican, but no large part of the story is lost or wasted on the reader who fails this particular general knowledge assessment. Two young boys (John Grady Cole and his BFF Master Lacey Rawlins) decide to leave the family land they were brought up on in search of the quintessential life for a cowboy. Along the way, they meet trouble in the shape of sixteen year old loner Blevins; trouble in the shape of a beautiful young woman looking for love; and trouble in the shape of said beautiful young woman’s very wealthy and very powerful father.
Having said all of that, the story opens with a funeral. Cole’s grandfather has passed away before the story even commences, and the opening paragraph will tell the reader if they are destined to be McCarthy fans, or not. I was hooked with the opening sentence. And yes, I am a fan. This is not the first McCarthy book I have read, and I am happy to announce it wont be the last. Not by a long shot.
There is beauty aplenty to be found in this book, too. You should not be surprised by that, but as an example, given the context of the story at this point (pages 72 and 73) makes this particular achievement even more remarkable. McCarthy begins here by talking about the rain, and thunder, and finishes the section off by discussing how a horse would interpret the sound of two humans retching (yes, I said, retching!) Truly brilliant stuff.
So what happens to the story's principle characters? Do Cole and Lacey ride off into the sunset, hand in hand with their respective girlfriends? McCarthy books aren’t that simple. There are lessons to be learnt here, not just for the characters in the story, but for the readers, too. Reading a book crafted by this truly great individual is like blessing yourself with a college degree, majoring in nothing less than art, beauty, love, loss, hurt, death and of course, life itself.
The classic saying about life’s most important lesson being the journey, not the destination, can very much be applied to this book.
I think, therefore I am.
I read, therefore I live.
Cormac McCarthy, may your books be remembered forever.