Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in1933 and spent most of his childhood near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later studied at the University of Tennessee. In 1976 he moved to El Paso, Texas, where he lives today. McCarthy's fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West--the first four novels being set in Tennessee, the last three in the Southwest and Mexico. The Orchard Keeper (1965) won the Faulkner Award for a first novel; it was followed by Outer Dark (1968), Child of God (1973), Suttree (1979), Blood Meridian (1985), and All the Pretty Horses, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award for fiction in 1992. The Crossing is his seventh novel and the second in McCarthy's Border Trilogy.
Sixteen-year-old Billy Parham is obsessed with trapping a renegade wolf that has crossed the border from Mexico to raid his father's cattle ranch. By the time he finally succeeds, Billy has formed such a close bond with his prey that he decides to return the wolf to its home, and the two head off into the mountains. Billy returns months later to find that his parents have been murdered by horse thieves. He abducts his kid brother from a foster home, and they ride into Mexico to retrieve their property, encountering gypsies, desperadoes, and itinerant philosophers along the way. Essentially a boy's adventure story written for adults, The Crossing is thematically related to the award-winning bestseller All The Pretty Horses (LJ 5/15/92; ``Best Books of 1992,'' LJ 1/93, p. 54-58.), but it is not a sequel. McCarthy's luminous prose style, spare as the desert landscapes it describes, is almost Beckett-like in its blend of deadpan humor and existential despair. An exceptionally vivid and rewarding novel.[Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/93.]-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Young Billy Parham, in a horse stall, dreams of his father's eyes, ``those eyes that seemed to contemplate with a terrible equanimity the cold and the dark and the silence that moved upon him.'' Billy could as well be dreaming of McCarthy's prose and the unsparing tone of this, the second volume in the Border Trilogy. The Crossing , following the award-winning and bestselling All the Pretty Horses , is set in the American Southwest and in Mexico, and features, like its predecessor, teenage boys, their horses, a girl and the recurring spectacles of desert days and nights, awful wonders and appalling deprivations, and no small amount of roadside philosophizing. The story of Billy, his younger brother Boyd, the fates of their horses, a wolf, their parents and their dog, set against a vague and distant backdrop of the coming Second World War, throws little light upon a universe without much meaning, though it is in the nature of McCarthy characters to try to anyway. In the end, when the last dog is hanged, so to speak, what survives is the rhythm of McCarthy's open, ropey sentences circling a logic as inscrutable as an animal's or a god's. Although no mysteries are solved, and no comfort gained for these lonely characters, there is that language wrestling to earth all that it cannot know and all that it can. Readers again will be in awe of McCarthy's extraordinary prose attentions--the biblical cadences, the freshened vocabulary, the taut, vivid renderings of the struggle to live. 200,000 first printing; BOMC main selection. (June)