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All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy,…
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All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1) (original 1992; edition 1993)

by Cormac McCarthy

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7,574175453 (3.95)533
Member:remooney
Title:All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1)
Authors:Cormac McCarthy
Info:Vintage (1993), Paperback, 301 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Work details

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (1992)

  1. 30
    Cannery Row by John Steinbeck (mabith)
    mabith: McCarthy's border trilogy reminded me so heavily of Steinbeck. I think if you enjoy one author you'll enjoy the other as well.
  2. 20
    Butcher's Crossing [excerpt] by John Williams (thatguyzero)
  3. 10
    Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead (TheRavenking)
  4. 10
    Close Range by Annie Proulx (chrisharpe)
  5. 00
    The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry (sturlington)
  6. 00
    In The fall by Jeffrey Lent (jhowell)
  7. 01
    Griffintown by Marie Hélène Poitras (Serviette)
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English (168)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (175)
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
I am not what you would call the average Cormac McCarthy reader. Yes, I may fit the stereotype—white male with a beard in his thirties—but I defy most stereotypes and hope that someday I may be the poster child for “stereotypes be damned.” (It seems out of place to use quotes in a review of a McCarthy book, doesn't it?) Historically, grisly, romanticized westerns do little for me.

Like everyone else, I've read The Road. That was more than a decade ago and I thought, “eh, it's okay.” It was the first McCarthy I'd read and while I was open to the idea of returning to the author, he wasn't on the top of my list. Two weeks ago, I had no plans of returning to McCarthy anytime soon. I have a long list of books I really want to read, and between those and whatever randomly tempts me on the bookshelf, I have no time for outliers. But a strange thing happened: I wasn't in the mood for any of the books on my list. Nothing seemed right. I experienced something rare: I had no idea what I wanted to read. I spent more than an hour trying to decide what was next. I was tempted to just take a day or two away from reading. Then, as though some conscious entity grew tired of my fit, I picked up All the Pretty Horses and started reading. Divine intervention? Subconscious desire? Likely, I just wanted to surprise myself.

And was I surprised. Within an hour, I found that I was enjoying the story. Thoroughly. And for those who know me and my likes, this may be surprising. I'm an open-minded individual and will try things outside of my comfort zone, but there are some things that have burned me so many times that I expect to be displeased. A book that promises to be filled with horses and gunfights is prone to disappoint. All the Pretty Horses exceeded all my baseless expectations. Much of my appreciation was in the way the main characters, John Grady and Lacey Rawlins, converse. What pulled me in was those two, sitting around a fire and talking, riding through desolate terrain and talking. Oddly, I became very wrapped up in their simple conversation. Even though their relationship seemed unbalanced, even though Grady seemed like a contradiction, and even though I hate heat and horses, I was pulled in. And as others were added to the mix, the dynamics changed, but the conversation remained riveting.

Grady was a wonderful character, though I couldn't quite grasp how much faith I was willing to invest in his authenticity. Although I never thought of Grady as old, I had trouble shaping his image as a sixteen year old. He was far too wise and mature. The more I got to know him, the more I was convinced that such a wise teenager could exist. And, as the story developed, I began to see that underneath it all, he may have not been quite as wise as he seemed (though I'm still not sure). Multi-dimensional character: you've hooked me.

Ironically, it was only when the book picked up speed, reaching its climax, that my interest waned some. An old-fashioned shootout and the getaway on a horse: I find that a bit boring. Overall, this was such a small part of the novel that I wasn't too distracted by it.

Who'd have thought that cowboys sitting around talking would've been such a draw? Divine intervention? I'm a weird one, I guess. Now I'm actually excited to read the next book in the series. ( )
  chrisblocker | Jun 21, 2017 |
Suddenly had to reread John Grady Cole and Lacey Rawlins's story. Such a brilliant book. (Will no doubt revisit the whole Border Trilogy soon.) ( )
  beaujoe | May 28, 2017 |
"And after and for a long time to come he'd have reason to evoke the recollection of those smiles and to reflect on the good will which provoked them for it had the power to protect and to confer honor and to strengthen resolve and it had the power to heal men and to bring them to safety long after all other resources were exhausted."

After the family patriarch passes and it becomes clear that the family ranch, the only home he has ever known, will be transferred away from the family, sixteen-year-old John Grady Cole heads for Mexico. His best friend, Lacey Rawlins, joins him and they reluctantly pick up the company of a youngster who claims his name is Jimmy Blevins. It's about the dead-center of the 20th century and border crossing is no more difficult than stripping down and riding one's horse across the river. Cole and Rawlins are looking for work with horses; Blevins seems to be looking for trouble. It turns out that all three of them find trouble and the middle section of the novel depicts a series of violent and terrible events. McCarthy doesn't flinch from the violence but he doesn't dwell on it, either. It's just what is there. And it doesn't overwhelm the love and loyalty and optimism that our young Cole appears to be blessed with.

This is a western and a coming of age story and a beautiful homage to the relationship between a man and his horse. McCarthy's prose is eloquent, falling just this side of overdone. His descriptions of things, of landscapes and buildings and men, are vivid and sometimes breathtaking. This is an author who notices details and renders them such that you can feel yourself standing in the place:
"The floors were of narrow pine boards and the grain was etched by years of sand trod into them and the windows along both walls had missing panes of glass replaced with squares of tin all cut from the same large sign to form a broken mosaic among the windowlights."

Though the story is laced with heartbreaking tragedy, it also made me laugh. After the bumbling and blustery Blevins has become separated from his horse and his pistol, along with most of his clothes, the trio rides on two horses into a pueblo. Blevins wants desperately to find and reclaim his horse.
"...the first thing they saw was Blevins' pistol sticking out of the back pocket of a man bent over into the engine compartment of a Dodge car. John Grady saw it first and he could have named things he'd rather have seen.
Yonder's my goddam pistol, sang out Blevins.
John Grady reached behind and grabbed him by the shirt or he'd have slid down from the horse.
Hold on, idjit, he said.
Hold on hell, said Blevins.
What do you think you're goin to do?
Rawlins had put his horse alongside of them. Keep ridin, he hissed. Good God almighty.
Some children were watching from a doorway and Blevins was looking back over his shoulder.
If that horse is here, said Rawlins, they wont have to send for Dick Tracy to figure out who it belongs to."

The novel doesn't even register on the Bechdel Test but these male characters are rough and tender and true (okay, John Grady Cole is a bit shinier than your average 16-year-old cowboy). Four and a half enthusiastic stars. ( )
3 vote EBT1002 | May 16, 2017 |
This book would be a great read for the higher level class and could be used to read the book and then watch the movie and then compare the two. I did this in high school and wrote a paper over the two. I found the book very interesting and enjoyed reading the book again. It has adventure, romance, and allows us to look back on how it was in the past. I also enjoyed the action throughout the book. This book kept me wondering in what kind of trouble the cowboys could get into next. ( )
  hannahcole | May 1, 2017 |
The final Western for my genre assignment, and boy howdy it was a good one. I've put off McCarthy for a while, always intending to read the copy of [b:The Road|6288|The Road|Cormac McCarthy|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1439197219s/6288.jpg|3355573] I have around but never really feeling it. All I knew was what I'd heard, that it's gritty and McCarthy doesn't like standard dialogue demarcations and I thought I had his number, but after reading this I know it's been bumped up on my list. I mean, those things still hold true, but I didn't anticipate what else I'd find in here.

In a lot of ways this book wasn't what I expected. The romanticism of this book is so strong you could forget it's set in the late-40s, which is part of it, part of this longing for an earlier way of life, even preferring the troubles of that earlier life to those of his present. I knew the pace would be quick, what with the generally curt dialogue and usually-simple language, but I didn't anticipate how much beauty he could pack into the structure of his prose. It's all and and and and and, but it reflects cowboy-storytelling, recounting events around a fire, achieving a verisimilitude of speech and thought patterns. I was also worried there wouldn't be any women at all, or that they'd be so poorly written I'd wish they'd been skipped altogether, but Alejandra and her aunt were both interesting characters. The latter's life story, I think, seemed a bit out of place in its depth and delivery, there in the latter quarter of the novel, and more like she ought to have her own book, but there's only so much you can wish for. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
You can’t just nip at darkness, so when you read this book, from page one you feel a threat following you, some animistic urging that keeps you going by the way McCarthy manipulates your demonic love of the sounds of speech.
 
All the Pretty Horses may indicate McCarthy's desire to come in out of the cold of those Tennessee mountain winters, but his imagination is at its best there with Arthur Ownby or with the monstrous Judge of Blood Meridian drowning dogs. He is best with what nature gives or imposes, rather than with the observations of culture.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Review of Books, Denis Donoghue (pay site) (Jun 24, 1993)
 
The magnetic attraction of Mr. McCarthy's fiction comes first from the extraordinary quality of his prose; difficult as it may sometimes be, it is also overwhelmingly seductive. Powered by long, tumbling many-stranded sentences, his descriptive style is elaborate and elevated, but also used effectively to frame realistic dialogue, for which his ear is deadly accurate.
 
Situada en 1949, en las tierras fronterizas entre Texas y México, la historia se centra en el personaje de John Grady Cole, un muchacho de dieciséis años, hijo de padres separados que tras la muerte de su abuelo decide huir a México en compañía de su amigo Lacey para encontrarse con un mundo marcado por la dureza y la violencia. Una novela de aprendizaje con resonancias épicas que inaugura un paisaje moral y físico que nos remite a la última epopeya de nuestro tiempo. Un estilo seco para una historia de emociones fuertes, ásperas, primigenias.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
 

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCarthy, Cormacprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Muller, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolf, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door.
Quotations
There were storms to the south and masses of clouds that moved slowly along the horizon with their long dark tendrils trailing in the rain. That night they camped on a ledge of rock above the plains and watched the lightning all along the horizon provoke from the seamless dark the distant mountain ranges again and again. (p. 93 of original ed.)
The boy who rode on slightly before him sat a horse not only as if he'd been born to it which he was but as if he were begot by malice or mischance into some queer land where horses never were he would have found them anyway.
He thought that in the beauty of the world hid a secret. He thought the world’s heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.
Scars have a strange power to remind us of our past.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679744398, Paperback)

Part bildungsroman, part horse opera, part meditation on courage and loyalty, this beautifully crafted novel won the National Book Award in 1992. The plot is simple enough. John Grady Cole, a 16-year-old dispossessed Texan, crosses the Rio Grande into Mexico in 1949, accompanied by his pal Lacey Rawlins. The two precocious horsemen pick up a sidekick--a laughable but deadly marksman named Jimmy Blevins--encounter various adventures on their way south and finally arrive at a paradisiacal hacienda where Cole falls into an ill-fated romance. Readers familiar with McCarthy's Faulknerian prose will find the writing more restrained than in Suttree and Blood Meridian. Newcomers will be mesmerized by the tragic tale of John Grady Cole's coming of age.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:21 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Cut off from the life of ranching he has come to love by his grandfather's death, John Grady Cole flees to Mexico, where he and his two companions embark on a rugged and cruelly idyllic adventure.

(summary from another edition)

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