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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. 10
    Butcher's Crossing by John Williams (thatguyzero)
  3. 00
    Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (sturlington)
  4. 00
    In The fall by Jeffrey Lent (jhowell)
  5. 00
    Close Range by Annie Proulx (chrisharpe)
  6. 01
    Griffintown by Marie Hélène Poitras (Serviette)

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English (146)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (152)
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
An emotionally complex adventure story that can be both touching and cold. Some readers will overlook the thoughtful things this novel has to say about moral responsibility and existential despair, but that's only because "genre fiction" and "action" are considered to be somehow anti-intellectual, and people are lazy. ( )
  Algybama | Oct 23, 2015 |
"... he rode out to the crest of a low rise and dismounted and dropped the reins and walked out and stood like a man come to the end of something."

Horses. Seventeen-year-old John Grady Cole loves horses. It's just a part of him; horses are in his blood. So when his grandfather dies and his mother decides to sell their Texas ranch where Cole has grown up, Cole realizes that there's nothing tying him down to the Texas soil. What's a boy to do? Well, you team up with your friend and saddle up your horses and cross the border to Mexico. This is a boy(s)-to-men story, a Western, an adventure, and a romance all in one. I really liked the characters of Cole and Rawlins (and even Blevins) and really want to know what happens to John Cole. (Rawlins too. I hope he shows up again in the series.) So, McCarthy has roped me into his Border Trilogy.

McCarthy's style is something I had to get used to; I think I have a love/hate relationship with it. Someone mentioned that if you like Steinbeck's writing, you will most likely like McCarthy. And I see their point, there are similarities. Like Steinbeck, he does paint a vivid landscape with his words. But, while Steinbeck (mostly) sticks with the conventions of grammar, McCarthy is like a bucking bronco and breaks all the grammar rules. He writes long, lavish run-on sentences that go on for days. This particular McCarthy writing quirk didn't bother me too much at first. By the end of the book, though, I felt he was overusing his paragraph-long sentences - just because he could and he would and so there you go and if you don't like it that's just too bad and I don't think he's wrong it's just that after reading all those "ands" over and over and feeling like I couldn't catch my reading breath it just kind of got on my nerves and please separate these sentences and maybe a comma or two isn't such a bad thing to have here and there. And there is my McCarthy dilemma. The very things about his style that I really loved - because grammar rules were meant to be broken! - were also the same things that drove me nuts. At the beginning of the book, I read this rather long sentence over and over because it just "wowed" me: "{The train} came boring out of the east like some ribald satellite of the coming sun howling and bellowing in the distance and the long light of the headlamp running through the tangled mesquite brakes and creating out of the night the endless fenceline down the dead straight right of way and sucking it back again wire and post mile on mile into the darkness after where the boilersmoke disbanded slowly along the faint new horizon and the sound came lagging and he stood still holding his hat in his hands in the passing ground-shudder watching it till it was gone." I saw all that. Vividly. In living color. He had other quirks as well. He seldom used commas (or apostrophes) and he never used quotation marks for dialogue. I was glad of the no quotation marks; it actually made reading the dialogue easier. The untranslated Spanish was an issue too (until I found the online "cooking with marty") but it also made the book feel very authentic.

My favorite passages in the book were the ones that focused on the horses themselves. What I think elevated this book and gave it its real beauty was the way McCarthy so eloquently and poignantly wrote about the spiritual aspect of the horses. John Cole doesn't love horses because they're merely beautiful. It's a much deeper spiritual connection. "...he dreamt of horses and the horses in his dream moved gravely among the tilted stones like horses come upon an antique site where some ordering of the world had failed and if anything had been written on the stones the weathers had taken it away again and the horses were wary and moved with great circumspection carrying in their blood as they did the recollection of this and other places where horses once had been and would be again. Finally what he saw in his dream was that the order in the horse's heart was more durable for it was written in a place where no rain could erase it."

Cole rides off into Mexico one way and comes back another. It's really not too clear how Cole's adventures have changed him until he seeks out some spiritual guidance from a judge and a preacher near the end of the story. These conversations give us a clear picture of Cole's character. Or maybe, more accurately, gives Cole a clearer picture of his character. At the beginning of the story, Cole seems to be riding away from his life. He's wandering, directionless. By the end, he seems to be riding towards something. Cole's story starts at the end and ends at the beginning. The beginning of what? And where is he going?

Looks like I'll have to read more to find out. ( )
2 vote avidmom | Oct 19, 2015 |
The beginning of the book is filled with excitement and promise. The end has a lot of retelling of the story I just read. Still it's a page turner that held my interest. ( )
  arning | Sep 23, 2015 |
59. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (1992, 302 pages within an Everyman's Library Hardcover edition of The Border Trilogy, read Aug 26-31)
Rating: 4.5 stars

John Grady Cole is 16 in 1949 and completely taken with horses when his grandfather dies and his mother makes plans to sell the family's west Texas ranch outside of San Angelo, Tx. He takes his horse and change of clothes and rides south to Mexico with a friend to find a ranch to work on.

To say he is taken by horses is an huge understatement. He is possessed by the world of men and horses. He is quite the horse whisperer. Everything he does, thinks and dreams, every judgment he makes, or relationship he engages in, is affected and defined by horses and his relationship to them.

McCarthy does something in the first 100 pages of this book that he has yet to do anywhere else before. He ties himself down. There is no violence, no obscure language. He just writes about a boy and his friend and their experiences on the way to who knows where. And things come out of this. A master of simplified dialogue, McCarthy creates a whole world in very few worlds. It's charming, and funny, and quite beautiful and I was completely taken away by it.

But he couldn't possibly hold that up for an entire book. This is a sequel to Blood Meridian. John Grady Cole was born in 1933, the year McCarthy was born and exactly 100 years after the kid in Blood Meridian. And while he doesn't follow in the kids footsteps, he crisscrosses that path continually, so that anyone who has read Blood Meridian can't help but compare the (McCarthy version of) then and now. One can't help sense the ghosts of the Comanches or other warriors and the forgotten gore once present along the silent empty desert plain. And like the kid, Cole has outlasted his era in his teens. There is no place for a master ranch-hand or master horse-tamer in 1949, unless one owns a ranch.

The book evolves into a somewhat convoluted romance and adventure story. John Grady Cole never settles down, which is consistent with all McCarthy's characters, and he gets mixed various odd violent scenes, also on par with McCarthy. But, he mainly keeps true to himself, and remains ethically unblemished, except by his own standards. That's new, although this is only book one of a trilogy.

Anyone interested, and this is really a book for anyone, almost any kind of reader will find this worth their time, but anyone interested needs to trade in their McCarthy-dictionary-of-obscure-English-like-words for a good Spanish-to-English dictionary. Nothing is translated. When Mexicans speak Spanish, McCarthy only gives you the Spanish, without explanation. ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Sep 2, 2015 |
Man book. Book for men. Literature with REAL TESTOSTERONE. Men doing true man things. ( )
  jessicaofthebees | Aug 15, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 146 (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.
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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