Monday, September 25, 2006

All The Pretty Horses

I recently finished re-reading "All the Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy. It may appear hyperbolic but right this minute I would place McCarthy well within the pantheon of top 20th century American writers. At times the seeming long-windedness of his sentence structure is slightly Faulknerian, but make no mistake, Cormac is no Billy knock-off, but rather to analogize another giant, is more akin to the rough hewn, yet scultped prose of Hemingway. Lofty comparisons, yes, yet not undeserved.

McCarthy's ability to evoke the feel of landscape and dig into the belly of the American soul is uncanny. The book, the entire trilogy really, demand your full sensory engagement with the prose, as any great writing should. When I read this book for the first time years ago, I didn't get it. Older, maybe slightly wiser, certainly more patient and much more appreciative of subtlety, the flow of the narrative held much great meaning for me at 32 than it did at 20. Sharing McCarthy's glimpse into the southwest, his version of coming of age in an unkind era, is well worth the sweat and bloodletting that was required to fully appreciate the tapestry of this work.

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