This novel is probably the most evocative I think I’ve read out of North America. Hauntingly beautiful, tragic and yet reassuring too, the Texan and Mexican landscape lives and breathes through every page of this classic. Through it plods John Grady Cole on horseback on an adventure that is as much emotional as geographical. John is a lonely character, it is true, but his greatest love, in fact his greatest relationships are with horses. While, one by one, others let him down, die or vanish out of his life, the horses are always there when he needs them.The lessons he learns along the way are harsh, as in all McCormac’s writing.
But this novel differs from much of his other writing, and those who might have found Blood Meridian or The Road too bleak to handle would do well not to give up on McCarthy but to give this a try.
McCarthy seems to have put Hemingway and Hardy together somehow. We have a living landscape but it is described in as lean a literature as possible. The writing is often sublime, laced with imagery and succulent. You’ll want to chew it over before swallowing it to let all of the juices and flavours suffuse your literary palate. I found it movingly beautiful at times and this makes for a great contrast with the harshness of John’s experiences.
Make yourself some time to read this slowly. You will not regret it.
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