I am reposting this 2013 review because the Audible.com Audiobook is on sale today for $3.95.
Summary: Beautifully written tragic story of desire for what cannot be.
Cormac McCarthy is a spare writer. Lots of detail and almost poetic language. But this is an introvert’s book. The characters talk, but there is no extra meandering dialogue. Dialogue has purpose.
McCarthy seems ideally suited to write about the idealized lone western male. His characters are self-sufficient, hard, tragic, honest to a fault, do not expect anyone to help them, but want to help others if they can.
In All the Pretty Horses (I have not seen the movie, so I do not know how it compares), John Grady Cole leaves home at 16 with his best friend. After his parent’s divorce, his mother wants nothing to do with ranch life and his father is left without a ranch (or anything else). He can give John nothing that he wants or needs. John and Rawlins (17) head to Mexico to see if they can find the rancher’s life that they seek.
Along the way, Jimmy Blevins, a 13 or 14 year old run away and troublemaker, joins up with them. Cole as the leader of the group allows Blevins to join them because it is clear that Blevins can not care for himself. Cole knows he will regret the decision and the theme is set with the Cole’s wise word:
“Every dumb thing I ever done in my life there was a decision I made before that got me into it. It was never the dumb thing. It was always the choice I made before it.”