Reviews of All the Pretty Horses (1992)
Review by centavo (2010-08-31)
Another book that is totally unlike what I normally read. I heard so much about this one that I decided to try it, and found it surprisingly compelling considering the subject matter and the pacing.
I fell in love with John Grady Cole, already a competent, moral and just man at the age of 16. All he wants is to be a cowboy, more particularly on the Texas ranch his great-great grandfather had built but that is now being sold by the mother who never had any interest in ranches or small town life (and not much interest in him, for that matter).
He and his best friend, Rawlins, set out for Mexico, in search of ranch work and they find it and do very well there. But along the way they innocently hook up with a 13-year-old boy on a beautiful bay horse who's evasive about who he is, where he's going and who the horse belongs to. Their fates ultimately become inextricably tied to his.
It's an incredible story of loyalty and loss and love. The ability of John Grady Cole to face whatever comes his way, to think on his feet, to do what is necessary, and to do what is right makes him a larger-than-life character.
McCarthy's prose is descriptive and unadorned, but poignant, particularly as he describes Cole's despair at one point: "He slept that night in a field far from any town. He built no fire. He lay listening to the horse crop the grass at his stakerope and he listened to the wind in the emptiness and watched stars trace the arc of the hemisphere and die in the darkness at the edge of the world and as he lay there the agony in his heart was like a stake. He imagined the pain of the world to be like some formless parasitic being seeking out the warmth of human souls wherein to incubate and he thought he knew what made one liable to its visitations. What he had not known was that it was mindless and so had no way to know the limits of those souls and what he feared was that there might be no limits." Wow.