My first attempt at reading Cormac McCarthy was not a good one. I had picked up The Road three years ago and I didn’t like it at all. However I was curious to see if all of his books are über negative, cruel pieces of work. When I finished All the Pretty Horses, my opinion on McCarthy changed somewhat.
It’s 1949 and Texan born and bred John Grady Cole is sixteen and has lost the ranch he loves and misses out on an inheritance. A s a result he decides to, along with his best friend Rawlins decides to move to Mexico (on Horseback) and start a new life there working as cowboys.
As they cross the border they are accompanied by another teenager called Blevins and from there onwards they discover that the wide open desert is a sinister place which is cruel and unforgiving and yet has moments of kindness. During the course of their stay in Mexico these three characters ; fall in love, get killed, imprisoned and are banished back to their homelands and learn about themselves in the process.
You could say this is a coming of age story of sorts or maybe even a criticism on social class. Even one on politics. Although McCarthy is not writer who makes his makes his symbolism obvious, it’s up for you to figure out what the books is about.
Which leads us to my opinion of the book itself. I loved it. The story, writing style, characters. It’s a perfect novel and one that will haunt you. It is cruel and even violent but McCarthy writes with such panache that you are in awe of the power of his pen. Now I can see why he is considered one of America’s best writers.