HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
Loading...

The Crossing (1994)

by Cormac McCarthy

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,038351,867 (4)147
English (33)  Dutch (1)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-25 of 33 (next | show all)
The Crossing begins with 16 year old Billy working with his father to trap a wolf. After weeks of the she-wolf uncovering traps (without being caught in them), Billy begins to appreciate her intelligence and wildness. When he finds her finally caught in a trap, he collars her rather than shoot her, muzzles her, and sets off with wolf and horse to return her to the mountains in Mexico that she wandered from.
Billy’s journeys through Mexico, both alone and with his younger brother, Boyd, take him among different places and different people, many of whom share vivid stories of their lives and worldviews. Billy’s vagrant spirit and listlessness are mirrored in the stark and desolate landscapes he travels through, and the uncertainty of his future is shown in his often inexplicable choices and transient views.
The novel is sometimes beautiful, but often stark, harsh, and keenly painful even if the reader cannot agree with or understand Billy’s (and Boyd’s) decisions. The novel is in many ways bleaker than McCarthy’s The Road, and the characters in The Crossing lack the sense of connection with each another or with the world that is seen in The Road’s father and son. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
Rip out my heart and soul and crush them, why don't you. I must be a masochist. ( )
  sighedtosleep | Sep 1, 2014 |
between 1.5 and 2.

i find myself struggling to find meaning in this book, and by the end was even wondering if that was part of mccarthy's point - that so much crap happens to people for no reason. but whatever he was doing in this book, i think i mostly missed it.

this was largely a slog for me. i enjoyed the first section of the book (with billy and the wolf) best, and actually thought it could have ended there. even though i liked this section best, i still felt there was no explanation for billy's motivation throughout it, and this bothered me a lot. actually, character motivation wasn't explained at all in the book; sometimes it's obvious but often there seems to be no reason at all for the characters to do what they do. which brings me back to maybe that being his point - that there isn't reason for the things that happen in this world. if that really is what he was saying with this book, he could have done it in far fewer pages.

there were some nice (by which i mean moving) parts toward the middle and end of the book, but overall i didn't connect with this book much at all and just wanted to get it done so i could move on to the third in the trilogy, which i'm hoping i'll find more like the first book.

i forgot to mention this in the first one, but couldn't possibly forget this time around - the amount of spanish in this book is...unfair. he never goes too long without putting some english in, but there is a considerable amount of dialogue (i would actually say that probably half of the dialogue in this book takes place in spanish) that isn't in english. i know enough spanish to make this not much of a problem for me, but seriously, this needs to be footnoted. most of it is glossed over enough in the english parts to make the spanish make sense, but not all of it. and some of the important things were said in spanish, like in the conversation with the blind man. ("Si el mundo es ilusion la perdida del mundo es illusion tambien." - which is more or less: "If the world is an illusion, than losing the world is an illusion as well.") there is way too much spanish here for the casual reader to comfortably be able to look things up. it was frustrating. which is generally the impression i'm left with, sadly, with the entire book.

"He said the wicked know that if the ill they do be of sufficient horror men will not speak against it." ( )
  elisa.saphier | May 9, 2014 |
It takes a certain masochism of the soul, I think, to enjoy a McCarthy novel. You can appreciate the stark beauty, the occasional humor, even the deep melancholy with which he addresses the world... but you cannot truly enjoy these books because they are too damn sad. And dry. And, dare I say it, often a bit boring. This novel could've been a hundred pages shorter and better for it - but I have to admit that I wouldn't've skipped certain scenes (the bickering between the brothers, the scene with Billy and the wolf at the Mexican camp) for the world. I just really want to go do something happy now, because I can't survive on a diet of hopelessness like this.

More about it at RB:http://wp.me/pGVzJ-qe ( )
  drewsof | Jul 9, 2013 |
I really enjoyed the earlier parts with the wolf, more so than the second half which was sad and frightening just like Blood Meridian. ( )
  alycias | Apr 4, 2013 |
Part 2 of the Border Trilogy. As excellent as the first. On to Book 3. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Amazing book in three parts. At the end of the first I was wondering where the story could possibly go, and wasnt disappointed with subsequent "crossings". This book would easily be a five in all categories, but for one thing - the amount of spanish. I understand why it was there, and it does add to the exotic, otherworldly feel of Mexico in the book sharply distinct from the more ordered US (at least on the surface). However as a non-spanish speaker I found myself ripped out of the world in which I was willingly immersed by large sections of unintelligible (to me) dialogue. If only there were subtitles! I guess I figured out enough to get by and really loved the book overall... perhaps on a second reading I will get more out of it, maybe with an internet translator handy (!) ( )
  mattclark | Nov 30, 2012 |
A bleak and beautiful novel about the border country, life and death, solitude and family. Very moving, even emotionally draining at times, yet difficult to put down. ( )
  igorken | Oct 29, 2012 |
Slightly disappointing. The wolf story is great: a sense of the animal's strength and desperation and the boy's cautious caring. I felt sympathy and a degree of suspense. Once the wolf is gone, the narrative sags: the boy wanders back and forth, crosses the border several times, picks up odd jobs, meets sundry wise old men and violent younger ones; the narrator rhapsodises about the landscape - but whither and what for? The brother's shooting and disappearance also seems arbitrary. Hero quest? Revenge saga? Picaresque? Some of the stylistic mannerisms start to annoy after several hundred pages: "mexican" instead of "Mexican", "spanish" instead of "Spanish", lack of apostrophes and dialogue markings sometimes confusing. A feeling I get with quite a few American novels - would be better at half the length. ( )
  vguy | Aug 16, 2012 |
Set just before the Second World War, sixteen year old Billy Parham is living with his parents and younger brother on a ranch in New Mexico. The appearance of a wolf in the area captivates Billy's imagination, and when he eventually traps the animal, on an impulse he decides to take it back into Mexico from whence it came. However when he eventually returns to the family ranch it is not as he left it. He journeys into Mexico twice more, once with his younger brother, and then again at the age or twenty.

The Crossing, the second book in the Border Trilogy, is a gripping, and often moving account of a young boy's adventures and troubles. While filled with minute detail words are never wasted, and McCarthy's only use of punctuation is the full stop, and even that is used with economy. Billy's story is occasionally interspersed with the stories of others, such as that of the ageing blind man.

A lot of the dialogue is in Spanish, and there are no translations, but that does not seem to interfere with or hamper one's understanding. The Crossing is a most absorbing and memorable read. ( )
1 vote presto | Apr 24, 2012 |
In a good book the author’s voice becomes clear in the first few pages and readers get an immediate sense of the world in which the coming story takes place. The second paragraph of The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy opens with the main character, Billy, waking to the sound of wolves in the hills near his home. He figures they will come down to the plains in the snow “to run the antelope in the moonlight.”

So he goes into the winter night and crawls to the edge of a broad valley.

“They were running on the plain harrying the antelope and the antelope moved like phantoms in the snow and circled and wheeled and the dry powder blew about them in the cold moonlight and their breath smoked palely in the cold as if they burned with some inner fire and the wolves twisted and turned and leapt in a silence such that they seemed of another world entire. They moved down the valley and turned and moved far out on the plain until they were the smallest of figures in that dim whiteness and then they disappeared.”

Already the untamed and inexplicable are upon us. Already you can hear echoes of William Faulkner in the voice of a new master stylist. McCarthy’s use of language is the reason I started reading this book and the reason I stayed with it despite some serious disappointments in the story he tells.

McCarthy’s writing style swings from unadorned sentences into dense tangles of abstract thought. You find whole paragraphs describing in plain language and in great detail simple actions of no apparent importance such as a man lighting a cigarette or a horse drinking water.

At one point he takes 11 pages to describe a doctor cleaning and dressing a bullet wound in Billy’s brother Boyd. In this example, the long description adds to the suspense of not knowing if Boyd will survive, but I suspect McCarthy’s usual purpose is to rivet our attention on detail, to make each scene intensely visual.

The entire novel is intensely visual. There’s no interior; no description of what a person is thinking at any given moment. We can only guess at what they’re thinking from watching what they do or listening to their stories.

McCarthy takes chances with his writing. Some of it goes too far and verges on silly. Instead of saying the boy looked into the wolf’s ear, McCarthy writes: “He studied the veined and velvet grotto into which the audible world poured.”

Some of it, though, gives me a rush of pleasure. It’s over the top writing. Here’s his description of Boyd staring into a campfire shortly after the brothers ride into Mexico to recover horses stolen from their murdered parents.

“He looked up. His pale hair looked white. He looked fourteen going on some age that never was. He looked as if he’d been sitting there and God had made the trees and rocks around him.”

One moment you’re reading simple descriptions and the next you’re swept into long sentences of cosmic truth beyond reckoning:

“He took up her stiff head out of the leaves and held it or he reached to hold what cannot be held, what already ran among the mountains at once terrible and of a great beauty, like flowers that feed on flesh. What blood and bone are made of but can themselves not make on any altar nor by any wound of war. What we may well believe has power to cut and shape and hollow out the dark form of the world surely if wind can, if rain can. But which cannot be held never to be held and is no flower but is swift and a huntress and the wind itself is in terror of it and the world cannot lose it.”

To me, though, the story doesn’t quite live up to the writing. The book is rich in memorable encounters, suspenseful and funny in places, punctuated with bursts of action, but it’s also maddeningly aimless. Billy rides into Mexico. He rides into a town. He rides on. He meets an old man. He rides on. He crosses the border back into America. He returns to Mexico. He meets a woman. He meets some gypsies. He leaves Mexico.

I almost gave up at the point where Billy wakes up one morning and discovers Boyd has left with a girl they had rescued. He left without saying good-bye, without leaving a note, without saying where he was going or for how long. He just left, exactly as Billy did when he rode into Mexico without telling his family.

Is Billy angry? Hurt? Perturbed? We don’t know. The boys talk very little and rarely about how they feel. They are laconic to the point of caricature. Billy and Boyd have many admirable qualities, but to a fanciful degree. They are stoic, taciturn, courteous, honorable, brave and self-reliant, little John Waynes 14 and 17 years old who ride into a foreign country expecting somehow to find and retrieve six horses that someone committed murder to steal.

I missed a lot of meaning in The Crossing, in part because of my limitations as a reader, but also because of all the Mexican terminology and Spanish dialogue McCarthy insists on using without translation. The meaning can usually be guessed, but it’s distracting.

The Crossing appears to be a novel that must be read a second time to be fully appreciated. Not this reader, though, because the endless, impossible quests wearied me. I discovered while dipping into the book to write this essay that I get more enjoyment out of reading episodes in isolation. I come to the scenes fresh, unconcerned about meaning or what comes next. I am able to let the writing envelop me. I see what McCarthy saw so vividly when he wrote the scenes and they are usually fascinating. ( )
1 vote jmor | Mar 22, 2012 |
More lyrical grimness from McCarthy that would be even better if I could, you know, speak Spanish. I actually downloaded a Spanish dictionary into the Kindle just so I could get through the dialogue. ( )
  goddamn_phony | Dec 10, 2011 |
"He turned the horse and set out along the road south, shadowless in the gray day, riding with the shotgun unscabbarded across the bow of the saddle. For the enmity of the world was newly plain to him that day and cold and inameliorate as it must be to all who have no longer cause except themselves to stand against it. (p 331)

The Crossing is filled with moments like that described above telling of Billy Parham's movements south and north through a country that seems to be perpetually gray, with little room for the sun. This is the second novel of The Border Trilogy. In it we are introduced to Billy Parham who is sixteen years old as the story begins, recently moved to New Mexico and fated to travel to Mexico and back - it follows Billy's travels and travails as he crosses and recrosses the border. These begin with Billy and his father setting traps for a she-wolf which has been marauding and killing their sheep. Billy is able to catch it in one of his traps, however instead of killing it he decides to take it to Mexico presumably to let it loose. It is with this act that his adventures begin and, operating without any apparent overarching aim, Billy who is later joined by his younger brother Boyd, set out on a series of quests, all of which are doomed to failure. While the travels of Billy make up the action of the novel, like All the Pretty Horses, the first novel in the trilogy, this novel is more about larger themes of good and evil, fate and responsibility, and the nature of friendship and relationships in this gray and desolate world. Related to these themes permeating the novel is the characters' ability or inability to see the world around them.

"Between their acts and their ceremonies lies the world and in this world the storms blow and the trees twist in the wind and all the animals that God has made go to and fro yet this world men do not see. They see the acts of their own hands or they see that which they name and call out to one another but the world between is invisible to them." (p 46)

This was related by an "old man" that Billy met as he was headed to Mexico on his first trip. Their are several characters like this whom Billy meets on his travels who relay stories and make important-sounding pronouncements. These along with the narrator raise issues that Billy may or may not understand. Among these comments are those about story-telling itself which may be key to understanding Billy's world and ours. McCarthy's odd narrational devices, his inimitable use of metaphor set against a background of realistic detail makes this volume the equal of the first in the trilogy. The story is bleak and narrates a tale of preservation in a world filled with enmity, yet it is a world that has many kind people and one in which Billy survives to see visions of unusual days and nights and perhaps a future. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 14, 2011 |
American Cowboys

Burned into the American psyche is the cowboy persona of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Over the years, Hollywood has earned gigantic monetary sums producing Western blockbusters. We conceptualize the Southwest in romantic terms.

On one side, the sheriff fights for the virtues of honor, peace, and justice. Bandits, on the other, drink booze, steal possessions, and undiscerningly use firearms. Amongst ruddy mesas and sparsely lit saloons, the cowboy lives a life of adventure. While most of us sit in our cubicles, it is easy glorify this unanchored wanderer.

The Anti-Western Novel

In The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy turns this paradigm upside down. In short, this book is the anti-western novel. Although the narrative communicates enough action to keep the reader interested, the lives of the protagonists, Billy and Boyd, are depicted rather mundanely as they traverse the U.S./Mexico Border.

Instead of shooting their way through each town as depicted in classic, western narratives, Billy and Boyd meander through the country, splitting their time between tracking their family’s stolen horses and searching for their own horses as they continually wander off in the night.

The Lone Wolf

Over the course of the book, McCarthy splits the narrative into three sections. First, Billy – the main character – hunts a lone wolf who is terrorizing the family cattle. Upon catching the wolf in a trap, Billy feels compelled to return the wolf to its mountainous habitat across the border.

In my mind, McCarthy’s prose in this section defines the book. Using deeply poetic language, he illustrates the hunt and capture from the perspective of both human and wolf.

The author writes,

“What blood and bone are made of but can themselves not make on any altar nor by any wound of war. What we may well believe has power to cut and shape and hollow out the dark form of the world surely if wind can, if rain can. But which cannot be held never be held and is no flower but is swift and a huntress and the wind itself is in terror of it and the world cannot lose it” (127).

The Search for Something Lost

In the second section, the brothers, Billy and Boyd, unite under the common purpose of locating horses stolen from the family. As these cowboys search the border country, they find curious characters, love, and, most importantly, a connection to the land.

During this time, and throughout the work, McCarthy masterfully keys the reader into upcoming events without divulging future narrative.

While the boys search for their horses, McCarthy writes,

“Long voyages often lose themselves.
Mam?
You will see. It is difficult even for brothers to travel together on such a voyage. The road has its own reasons and no two travelers will have the same understanding of those reasons. If indeed they come to an understanding of them at all. Listen to the corridos of the country. They will tell you. Then you will see in your own life what is the cost of things. Perhaps it is true that nothing is hidden. Yet many do not wish to see what lies before them in plain sight. You will see. The shape of the road is the road. There is not some other road that wears that shape but only the one. And every voyage begun upon it will be completed. Whether horses are found or not” (230).”

Therefore, while the second section alludes to and ends with the brothers parting ways, the third finds Billy seeking to reunite with Boyd. Although the end result is not necessarily cheery, The Crossing communicates its story with an incredible gravity. As a reader, you really connect with the characters.

Some Reservations

Despite my joy while I read this impressive book, it is by no means perfectly composed. First, at 4 chapters and 432 pages, The Crossing is not a book to read in short spurts. Stopping points rarely arrive and McCarthy’s dense writing style requires 100% attention.

Second, as Billy and Boyd met new characters, McCarthy possessed a tendency to elaborate on a character’s backstory whether or not it contributed to the central thrust of the narrative. I often found myself not caring about these backstories and ultimately becoming disappointed at its lack of cohesion with Billy and Boyd’s narrative framework.

A True Western

Nevertheless, The Crossing is masterfully crafted and its main characters carry the utmost intrigue. In truth, these cowboys engage in an adventure – just not a romanticized adventure so often depicted on the silver screen. Billy and Boyd’s story seems true. McCarthy finds reality amongst his vivid descriptions of the mundane actions encountered during a long-term adventure. The Crossing is an excellent book and one worth reading. I recommend this book to everyone.

Originally published at http://wherepenmeetspaper.blogspot.com/ ( )
  lemurfarmer | May 12, 2011 |
Una Messico metafisico, un ragazzo che si perde e si ritrova, per poi perdersi ancora, il confine come metafora del passaggio da adolescenza a età adulta, dalle speranze alla disilllusione, dalla vita alla morte. Bravo McCarthy: un gran bel leggere. ( )
  EPoliti | Sep 2, 2010 |
Amazing book in three parts. At the end of the first I was wondering where the story could possibly go, and wasnt disappointed with subsequent "crossings". This book would easily be a five in all categories, but for one thing - the amount of spanish. I understand why it was there, and it does add to the exotic, otherworldly feel of Mexico in the book sharply distinct from the more ordered US (at least on the surface). However as a non-spanish speaker I found myself ripped out of the world in which I was willingly immersed by large sections of unintelligible (to me) dialogue. If only there were subtitles! I guess I figured out enough to get by and really loved the book overall... perhaps on a second reading I will get more out of it, maybe with an internet translator handy (!) ( )
  liquifred | Jul 30, 2010 |
I stop short of 5/5 simply because much of this book is like the first part of the border trilogy.

McCarthy's descriptions are sharp and vivid. The scenes roll off his pen like the landscape in which they are set. The dialogue is exceptional. I always want to talk like one of his cowboys after reading one of his books.

Another great aspect is that he leads us to think we are into another standard western story, but then takes a turn into original. fascinating plots. ( )
  yeremenko | Mar 28, 2010 |
Not quite as good as the first part, but still a fascinating read. Can't wait to start reading the next one! ( )
  Jonoen | Jan 5, 2010 |
Our hero wanders about the southwestern American countryside and crosses into Mexico several times, sleeps on the plains, waters the horses, and looks at the stars. But the pages and pages of tranquility are broken, suddenly and without warning, by violence and horrific sights. Probably better than "All the Pretty Horses", but certainly not easy to read. ( )
1 vote alissamarie | Oct 25, 2009 |
Our hero wanders about the southwestern American countryside and crosses into Mexico several times, sleeps on the plains, waters the horses, and looks at the stars. But the pages and pages of tranquility are broken, suddenly and without warning, by violence and horrific sights. Probably better than "All the Pretty Horses", but certainly not easy to read. ( )
  alissamarie | Oct 25, 2009 |
Our hero wanders about the southwestern American countryside and crosses into Mexico several times, sleeps on the plains, waters the horses, and looks at the stars. But the pages and pages of tranquility are broken, suddenly and without warning, by violence and horrific sights. Probably better than "All the Pretty Horses", but certainly not easy to read. ( )
  alissamarie | Oct 25, 2009 |
Amazing. The comparisons to Faulkner and Hemingway are apt but there's the Latino flavor too. I'm not just referring to the setting in Mexico or the copious use of Spanish.

(And I could understand almost all the Spanish! This would be a good novel to recommend to second semester Spanish students--a good motivator to learn more.)

There's also the feeling of Latino literature. The way many LA writers tell a tale. The Mexican characters verge on the allegorical or the magical realist. I thought of how Fellini would film this--the caravan of actors, the opera singer bathing, the nameless girl barely escaping the gang of ladrones/rapists/murderers.

And the way the Mexican characters talk! Big themes, the meaning of life, God, civil war. Contrast this with the laconic (though colorfully idiomatic) language of the American characters. Or should I say the characters when in America?

Finally, very near the end, we get about a paragraph's work of self talk from Billy, told to an unsympathetic gringo who happens upon his campfire. What's that all about? How much has Billy learned? ( )
2 vote Periodista | Jan 14, 2009 |
The Crossing, by Cormac McCarthy is the second novel in the border crossing series (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Cities of the Plain). It details various journeys by the main character and the protagonist, Billy Parham. It is called The Crossing because it literally depicts Parham crossing the border between the United States and Mexico. He crosses the border 3 times, and in those 3 crossings he has extensive, dangerous, long and arduous journeys. The book takes place in the late 1930’s, and the book depicts Parham when he is a 16 year old boy and growing up. Every time Parham crosses the border, he is attempting to accomplish a task, and his crossings take place over a number of years. The book takes on a much darker and more somber tone than the previous book, All the Pretty Horses, as Billy takes on a more personal journey in his search for self.
Our theme this quarter was the search for self. In All the Pretty Horses, Parham is constantly on a search for who he is, and what is his purpose. He is a boy at the start of the novel with only 16 years of age, and by the end of the novel he is 21, and has spent 5 years wandering the countryside of Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico. This book starts with Parham trying to take a she- wolf back into the mountains of Mexico. In this journey and all the other journeys Parahm embarks on, he goes attempting to accomplish a task. It is in this task he is attempting to find out his purpose, and who he is. This book is sad because towards the end of the novel, he just begins to realize more and more he does not know who he is, or what his purpose is. He feels though he failed in his goal. His search for self is long, arduous, and saddening. It is a perfect example of blind effort, and the reader feels all the pain Parham feels in his search for self.
I would recommend this novel if you have read All the Pretty Horses and enjoyed it. This book is longer, and is much more depressing and sad. The setting in the deserts of Mexico and Arizona is the same as in All the Pretty Horses and the appeal of the wild of Mexico is really intriguing. In summation, I would give this book about 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was not as good as All the Pretty Horses, but The Crossing in my opinion is yet another classic of American Literature and a search for self. ( )
2 vote wrhazel | Dec 8, 2008 |
A deeply symbolic, deeply moving meditation on men and frontiers and family and death and pride and spirit. ( )
1 vote joeltallman | Apr 26, 2008 |
Showing 1-25 of 33 (next | show all)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
12 avail.
130 wanted
3 pay1 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4)
0.5
1 8
1.5 1
2 22
2.5 6
3 110
3.5 27
4 246
4.5 41
5 181

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 98,405,144 books! | Top bar: Always visible