Cormac McCarthy is the author of ten acclaimed novels, most recently The Road. Among his honours are the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for lifetime achievement in American literature.
Set in the southwest, McCarthy's sixth novel is the first volume of ``The Border Trilogy.'' With the death of his grandfather, John Grady Cole must find his own way in life and come to terms with his manhood. In evocative language, McCarthy recounts John Grady's adventures in discovering the world: its cruelties, its kindnesses, and its justice. With its strong masculine point of view, lyric language, and thematic interplay of honor and survival, the story is often reminiscent of Hemingway. The reader may be put off by the unconventional punctuation (McCarthy eschews apostrophes and quotation marks for direct dialog), and the plot is occasionally confused by imprecise character identification. And, in the literary tradition, McCarthy expects us to be bilingual or come prepared with our Spanish dictionaries. For literary collections.-- Linda L. Rome, Middlefield P.L., Ohio
This is a novel so exuberant in its prose, so offbeat in its setting and so mordant and profound in its deliberations that one searches in vain for comparisons in American literature. None of McCarthy's previous works, not even the award-winning The Orchard Keeper (1965) or the much-admired Blood Meridian (1985), quite prepares the reader for the singular achievement of this first installment in the projected Border Trilogy. John Grady Cole is a 16-year-old boy who leaves his Texas home when his grandfather dies. With his parents already split up and his mother working in theater out of town, there is no longer reason for him to stay. He and his friend Lacey Rawlins ride their horses south into Mexico; they are joined by another boy, the mysterious Jimmy Blevins, a 14-year-old sharpshooter. Although the year is 1948, the landscape--at some moments parched and unforgiving, at others verdant and gentled by rain--seems out of time, somewhere before history or after it. These likable boys affect the cowboy's taciturnity--they roll cigarettes and say what they mean--and yet amongst themselves are given to terse, comic exchanges about life and death. In McCarthy's unblinking imagination the boys suffer truly harrowing encounters with corrupt Mexican officials, enigmatic bandits and a desert weather that roils like an angry god. Though some readers may grow impatient with the wild prairie rhythms of McCarthy's language, others will find his voice completely transporting. In what is perhaps the book's most spectacular feat, horses and men are joined in a philosophical union made manifest in the muscular pulse of the prose and the brute dignity of the characters. ``What he loved in horses was what he loved in men, the blood and the heat of the blood that ran them,'' the narrator says of John Grady. As a bonus, Grady endures a tragic love affair with the daughter of a rich Spanish Hacendado , a romance, one hopes, to be resumed later in the trilogy. (May)