Monday, September 04, 2023

Review: All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In my final assessment, I am glad I read this book. I didn’t love it; but it did grow on me. The language has a haunting beauty to it and there are some fascinating moments and provoking conversations. But I found the first 30 pages or so confusing and meandering. McCarthy is somewhat careless with pronoun antecedents so it was hard to follow who was saying what to whom. The story didn’t feel like it was going anywhere in particular; just two young guys riding down to Mexico for adventure. But once they get settled into Mexico, it picks up and gets more interesting. The Great-Aunt is a wonderful character and some of the best moments of the book are between her and Grady. Many of the lines one sees quoted from the book come from their conversations: “between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.”

The plot doesn’t really have much of through-line and there’s almost no plot-theme to speak of. Worse, there is the occasional deus ex machina when things start to bog down. Other than Grady and the aunt, the characters and their motivations are somewhat thin.

The book is worth reading though I think it is over-hyped. It is not the greatest American novel nor do I think it is innovative or ambitious as some critics claim. It’s a bit more violent and pensive than a Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour, but otherwise not all that different.

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