The Crossing (Border Trilogy Series #2)

The Crossing (Border Trilogy Series #2)

by Cormac McCarthy

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Overview

Following All the Pretty Horses in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy is a novel whose force of language is matched only by its breadth of experience and depth of thought.

In the bootheel of New Mexico hard on the frontier, Billy and Boyd Parham are just boys in the years before the Second World War, but on the cusp of unimaginable events. First comes a trespassing Indian and the dream of wolves running wild amongst the cattle lately brought onto the plain by settlers -- this when all the wisdom of trappers has disappeared along with the trappers themselves. And so Billy sets forth at the age of sixteen on an unwitting journey into the souls of boys and animals and men. Having trapped a she-wolf he would restore to the mountains of Mexico, he is long gone and returns to find everything he left behind transformed utterly in his absence. Except his kid brother, Boyd, with whom he strikes out yet again to reclaim what is theirs thus crossing into "that antique gaze from whence there could be no way back forever."

An essential novel by any measure, The Crossing is luminous and appalling, a book that touches, stops, and starts the heart and mind at once.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307762467
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/11/2010
Series: Border Trilogy Series , #2
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 108,802
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Cormac McCarthy is the author of six previous novels the most recent of which, All the Pretty Horses, won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Read an Excerpt

I

When they came south out of Grant County Boyd was not much more than a baby and the newly formed county they'd named Hidalgo was itself little older than the child. In the country they'd quit lay the bones of a sister and the bones of his maternal grandmother. The new country was rich and wild. You could ride clear to Mexico and not strike a crossfence. He carried Boyd before him in the bow of the saddle and named to him features of the landscape and birds and animals in both spanish and english. In the new house they slept in the room off the kitchen and he would lie awake at night and listen to his brother's breathing in the dark and he would whisper half aloud to him as he slept his plans for them and the life they would have.

On a winter's night in that first year he woke to hear wolves in the low hills to the west of the house and he knew that they would be coming out onto the plain in the new snow to run the antelope in the moonlight. He pulled his breeches off the footboard of the bed and got his shirt and his blanketlined duckingcoat and got his boots from under the bed and went out to the kitchen and dressed in the dark by the faint warmth of the stove and held the boots to the windowlight to pair them left and right and pulled them on and rose and went to the kitchen door and stepped out and closed the door behind him.

When he passed the barn the horses whimpered softly to him in the cold. The snow creaked under his boots and his breath smoked in the bluish light. An hour later he was crouched in the snow in the dry creekbed where he knew the wolves had been using by their tracks in the sand of the washes, by their tracks in the snow.

They were already out on the plain and when he crossed the gravel fan where the creek ran south into the valley he could see where they'd crossed before him. He went forward on knees and elbows with his hands pulled back into his sleeves to keep them out of the snow and when he reached the last of the small dark juniper trees where the broad valley ran under the Animas Peaks he crouched quietly to steady his breath and then raised himself slowly and looked out.

They were running on the plain harrying the antelope and the antelope moved like phantoms in the snow and circled and wheeled and the dry powder blew about them in the cold moonlight and their breath smoked palely in the cold as if they burned with some inner fire and the wolves twisted and turned and leapt in a silence such that they seemed of another world entire. They moved down the valley and turned and moved far out on the plain until they were the smallest of figures in that dim whiteness and then they disappeared.

He was very cold. He waited. It was very still. He could see by his breath how the wind lay and he watched his breath appear and vanish and appear and vanish constantly before him in the cold and he waited a long time. Then he saw them coming. Loping and twisting. Dancing. Tunneling their noses in the snow. Loping and running and rising by twos in a standing dance and running on again.

There were seven of them and they passed within twenty feet of where he lay. He could see their almond eyes in the moonlight. He could hear their breath. He could feel the presence of their knowing that was electric in the air. They bunched and nuzzled and licked one another. Then they stopped. They stood with their ears cocked. Some with one forefoot raised to their chest. They were looking at him. He did not breathe. They did not breathe. They stood. Then they turned and quietly trotted on. When he got back to the house Boyd was awake but he didnt tell him where he'd been nor what he'd seen. He never told anybody.

The winter that Boyd turned fourteen the trees inhabiting the dry river bed were bare from early on and the sky was gray day after day and the trees were pale against it. A cold wind had come down from the north with the earth running under bare poles toward a reckoning whose ledgers would be drawn up and dated only long after all due claims had passed, such is this history. Among the pale cottonwoods with their limbs like bones and their trunks sloughing off the pale or green or darker bark clustered in the outer bend of the river bed below the house stood trees so massive that in the stand across the river was a sawed stump upon which in winters past herders had pitched a four by six foot canvas supply tent for the wooden floor it gave. Riding out for wood he watched his shadow and the shadow of the horse and travois cross those palings tree by tree. Boyd rode in the travois holding the axe as if he'd keep guard over the wood they'd gathered and he watched to the west with squinted eyes where the sun simmered in a dry red lake under the barren mountains and the antelope stepped and nodded among the cattle in silhouette upon the foreland plain.

They crossed through the dried leaves in the river bed and rode till they came to a tank or pothole in the river and he dismounted and watered the horse while Boyd walked the shore looking for muskrat sign. The indian Boyd passed crouching on his heels did not even raise his eyes so that when he sensed him there and turned the indian was looking at his belt and did not lift his eyes even then until he'd stopped altogether. He could have reached and touched him. The indian squatting under a thin stand of carrizo cane and not even hidden and yet Boyd had not seen him. He was holding across his knees an old singleshot 32 rimfire rifle and he had been waiting in the dusk for something to come to water for him to kill. He looked into the eyes of the boy. The boy into his. Eyes so dark they seemed all pupil. Eyes in which the sun was setting. In which the child stood beside the sun.

He had not known that you could see yourself in others' eyes nor see therein such things as suns. He stood twinned in those dark wells with hair so pale, so thin and strange, the selfsame child. As if it were some cognate child to him that had been lost who now stood windowed away in another world where the red sun sank eternally. As if it were a maze where these orphans of his heart had miswandered in their journey in life and so arrived at last beyond the wall of that antique gaze from whence there could be no way back forever.

From where he stood he could not see his brother or the horse. He could see the slow rings moving out over the water where the horse stood drinking beyond the stand of cane and he could see the slight flex of the muscle beneath the skin of the indian's lean and hairless jaw.

The indian turned and looked at the tank. The only sound was the dripping of water from the horse's raised muzzle. He looked at the boy.

You little son of a bitch, he said.

I aint done nothin.

Who's that with you?

My brother.

How old's he?

Sixteen.

The indian stood up. He stood immediately and without effort and looked across the tank where Billy stood holding the horse and then he looked at Boyd again. He wore an old tattered blanketcoat and an old greasy Stetson with the crown belled out and his boots were mended with wire.

What are you all doin out here?

Gettin wood.

You got anything to eat?

No.

Where you live at?

The boy hesitated.

I asked you where you lived at.

He gestured downriver.

How far?

I dont know.

You little son of a bitch.

He put the rifle over his shoulder and walked out down the shore of the tank and stood looking across at the horse and at Billy.

Howdy, said Billy.

The indian spat. Spooked everthing in the country, aint you? he said.

We didnt know there was anybody here.

You aint got nothin to eat?

No sir.

Where you live at?

About two miles down the river.

You got anything to eat at your house?

Yessir.

I come down there you goin to bring me somethin out?

You can come to the house. Mama'll feed you.

I dont want to come to the house. I want you to bring me somethin out.

All right.

You goin to bring me somethin out?

Yes.

All right then.

The boy stood holding the horse. The horse hadnt taken its eyes from the indian. Boyd, he said. Come on.

You got dogs down there?

Just one.

You goin to put him up?

All right. I'll put him up.

You put him up inside somewheres where he wont be barkin.

All right.

I aint comin down there to get shot.

I'll put him up.

All right then.

Boyd. Come on. Let's go.

Boyd stood on the far side of the tank looking at him.

Come on. It'll be dark here in just a little bit.

Go on and do like your brother says, said the indian.

We wasnt botherin you.

Come on, Boyd. Let's go.

He crossed the gravel bar and climbed into the travois.

Get up here, said Billy.

He climbed out of the pile of limbs they'd gathered and looked back at the indian and then reached and took the hand that Billy held down and swung up behind him onto the horse.

How will we find you? said Billy.

The indian was standing with the rifle across his shoulders, his hands hanging over it. You come out you walk towards the moon, he said.

What if it aint up yet?

The indian spat. You think I'd tell you to walk towards a moon that wasnt there? Go on now.

The boy booted the horse forward and they rode out through the trees. The travois poles dragging up small windrows of dead leaves with a dry whisper. The sun low in the west. The indian watched them go. The younger boy rode with one arm around his brother's waist, his face red in the sun, his near-white hair pink in the sun. His brother must have told him not to look back because he didnt look back. By the time they'd crossed through the dry bed of the river and ridden up onto the plain the sun was already behind the peaks of the Peloncillo Mountains to the west and the western sky was a deep red under the reefs of cloud. They set out south along the dry river breaks and when Billy looked back the indian was coming along a half mile behind them in the dusk carrying the rifle loosely in one hand.

How come you're lookin back? said Boyd.

I just am.

Are we goin to carry him some supper?

Yes. We can do that I reckon.

Everthing you can do it dont mean it's a good idea, said Boyd.

I know it.

HE WATCHED the night sky through the front room window. The earliest stars coined out of the dark coping to the south hanging in the dead wickerwork of the trees along the river. The light of the unrisen moon lying in a sulphur haze over the valley to the east. He watched while the light ran out along the edges of the desert prairie and the dome of the moon rose out of the ground white and fat and membranous. Then he climbed down from the chair where he'd been kneeling and went to get his brother.

Billy had steak and biscuits and a tin cup of beans wrapped in a cloth and hidden behind the crocks on the pantry shelf by the kitchen door. He sent Boyd first and stood listening and then followed him out. The dog whined and scratched at the smokehouse door when they passed it and he told the dog to hush and it did. They went on at a low crouch along the fence and then made their way down to the trees. When they reached the river the moon was well up and the indian was standing there with the rifle yokewise across his neck again. They could see his breath in the cold. He turned and they followed him out across the gravel wash and took the cattletrail on the far side downriver along the edge of the pasture. There was woodsmoke in the air. A quarter mile below the house they reached his campfire among the cottonwoods and he stood the rifle against the bole of one of the trees and turned and looked at them.

Bring it here, he said.

Billy crossed to the fire and took the bundle from the crook of his arm and handed it up. The indian took it and squatted before the fire with that same marionette's effortlessness and set the cloth on the ground before him and opened it and lifted out the beans and set the cup by the coals to warm and then took up one of the biscuits and steak and bit into it.

You'll black that cup, Billy said. I got to take it back to the house.

The indian chewed, his dark eyes half closed in the firelight. Aint you got no coffee at your house, he said.

It aint ground.

You cant grind some?

Not without somebody hearin it I caint.

The indian put the second half of the biscuit in his mouth and leaned slightly forward and produced a beltknife from somewhere about his person and reached and stirred the beans in the cup with it and then looked up at Billy and ran the blade along his tongue one side and then the other in a slow stropping motion and jammed the knife in the end of the log against which the fire was laid.

How long you live here, he said.

Ten years.

Ten years. Your family own this place?

No.

He reached and picked up the second biscuit and severed it with his square white teeth and sat chewing.

Where are you from? said Billy.

From all over.

Where you headed?

The indian leaned and took the knife from the log and stirred the beans again and licked the blade again and then slipped the knife through the handle and lifted the blackened cup from the fire and set it on the ground in front of him and began to eat the beans with the knife.

Reading Group Guide

1. What is the significance of the book's title?

2. Discuss the meaning of the observation: "The world was new each day for God so made it daily. Yet it contained within it all the evils as before" [p. 278]. How are these words applicable to the novel's action?

3. Early in the book Boyd Parham is struck by the sight of his reflection in the eyes of an Indian who asks them for food. What he sees is not so much himself as a "cognate child... windowed away in another world where the red sun sank eternally" [p. 6]. What themes do this moment of mirroring and self-estrangement suggest?

4. How would you characterize Billy's relationship with Boyd? Why does he return to Mexico to find out what happened to his brother? What else is he looking for?

5. Who do you think murdered the Parhams? Why didn't Boyd try to escape when he had the chance?

6. The people in The Crossing are characterized by a kind of psychological opaqueness. Since we rarely know their direct thoughts, we must infer their motives from their words and actions, which often seem cryptic or irrational. How do we come to know these characters? What vision of human nature does their opaqueness suggest?

7. What role do animals play in this book? Why, for example, does Billy endure such great danger and hardship for the sake of a wolf? Do any of the characters he meets in Mexico share his feelings about animals?

8. The Crossing is a book of dreams and auguries. Early in the novel Boyd has a dream of people burning on a dry lake [p. 35]; Billy dreams he sees his father wandering lost in the desert and being swallowed by darkness [p. 112]. Later in his journey, Billy istaken in by Indians whose elder calls him "huerfano"--orphan [p. 134]--thus predicting the murder of his parents. What is the role of portents--both accurate and inaccurate--in this book?

9. The Crossing is an account of three journeys. The book is also divided into four sections. Why do you think McCarthy has divided
The Crossing in this asymmetrical fashion? Does he employ a similar structure elsewhere in this book? Is its overall structure similar to that of All the Pretty Horses?

10. What role does hospitality play in this book? Is there any relation between the novel's scenes of hospitality and its moments of violence?

11. Is The Crossing a violent book? Why do you think the author has chosen to recount some of the worst instances of bloodshed (the slaughter of the opera company's mule, the blinding of the rebel soldier) secondhand? At a time when graphic and gratuitous descriptions of mayhem are standard in much popular fiction for purposes of mere shock and titillation, has McCarthy succeeded in restoring to violence its ancient qualities of pity and terror? How has he managed this?

12. What things does Billy lose in the course of this novel? Which of these losses is voluntary?

13. The Crossing is a book about human beings and their relationship with God and, in particular, about their attempt to decipher divine justice. McCarthy explores this theme with Dostoyevskian eloquence in Billy's conversations with the sexton of a ruined church [pp. 140-59] and a blind veteran of the Revolution [pp. 274-93]. What kind of God have these men come to understand? Is that God the same one that Billy and Boyd encounter?

14. In what ways does The Crossing resemble classic myths and fairy tales? How do Billy and Boyd Parham compare to the figures that Joseph Campbell describes in The Hero with a Thousand Faces?

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The Crossing (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In ¿The Crossing¿, Cormac McCarthy evokes the same vanishing ranch culture of the American southwest and northern Mexico as in his ¿All the Pretty Horses¿. In this case, it is set in the late 1930s when the horse-based life is still alive, but is beginning to be replaced by a more modern, automobile-based way of life. McCarthy describes three difficult, physical, dangerous trips into Mexico by Billy Parham and, in one case, with his brother Boyd. The brothers depend on themselves and their knowledge of horses, guns, and how to live off the land in dealing with horse thieves and robbers in a Mexico that is more lawless than the United States. McCarthy reveals a way of life that is much more intense and physically demanding than our sheltered modern life. However, there are two negatives that lower my rating of this book. First, McCarthy makes extensive use of Spanish dialogue throughout the book without providing any English translations. Secondly, the book contains two long (approximately 20 pages each) monologues, one by a hermit priest and one by the wife of a blind soldier, who lost his sight in the Mexican revolution. With these monologues, McCarthy seems to be trying to add a philosophical dimension to the novel (e.g., about God, human suffering, chance in life, blindness and death), but both monologues are tiresome and not well integrated into the novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even thought i can not really understand a single word of spanish, just to simply read and know the tone of the words you can understand the book. I am not worried what others think about having to read half a dozen pages in spanish, you simply know what is being said by the tone. This really is another great American Classic. IMO it will go down in American Literature as one of the true greats.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If the Spanish bothers you that much, invest in a five dollar espagnol/anglais dictionary. Its worth it! Parham's journey is a long harrowing trek of a boy's voyage of self discovery into becoming a man. It takes you away and you'll want to go back again soon after its done; its a sweet pain that you'll learn to cherish.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although there is hardly any conversation in this book, I was still captivated by the story of young Billy Parham and his brother, Boyd. McCarthy paints quite a picture of their rough life in a desolate, harsh land. The ending was so sad! If you like this book, you need to read THE CITIES OF THE PLAIN by the same author. It picks up when Billy is 27 years old and it has a lot more conversation and characters in it. I will highly recommend either of these books!
sparksmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At the time, I wasn't sure I was enjoying the book. I found it hard with the Spanish language, so I know I missed important parts of the plot. However over the year this book has stayed with me and I am keen to read the other 2. The writing was beautiful.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"He turned the horse and set out along the road south, shadowless in the gray day, riding with the shotgun unscabbarded across the bow of the saddle. For the enmity of the world was newly plain to him that day and cold and inameliorate as it must be to all who have no longer cause except themselves to stand against it. (p 331)The Crossing is filled with moments like that described above telling of Billy Parham's movements south and north through a country that seems to be perpetually gray, with little room for the sun. This is the second novel of The Border Trilogy. In it we are introduced to Billy Parham who is sixteen years old as the story begins, recently moved to New Mexico and fated to travel to Mexico and back - it follows Billy's travels and travails as he crosses and recrosses the border. These begin with Billy and his father setting traps for a she-wolf which has been marauding and killing their sheep. Billy is able to catch it in one of his traps, however instead of killing it he decides to take it to Mexico presumably to let it loose. It is with this act that his adventures begin and, operating without any apparent overarching aim, Billy who is later joined by his younger brother Boyd, set out on a series of quests, all of which are doomed to failure. While the travels of Billy make up the action of the novel, like All the Pretty Horses, the first novel in the trilogy, this novel is more about larger themes of good and evil, fate and responsibility, and the nature of friendship and relationships in this gray and desolate world. Related to these themes permeating the novel is the characters' ability or inability to see the world around them. "Between their acts and their ceremonies lies the world and in this world the storms blow and the trees twist in the wind and all the animals that God has made go to and fro yet this world men do not see. They see the acts of their own hands or they see that which they name and call out to one another but the world between is invisible to them." (p 46)This was related by an "old man" that Billy met as he was headed to Mexico on his first trip. Their are several characters like this whom Billy meets on his travels who relay stories and make important-sounding pronouncements. These along with the narrator raise issues that Billy may or may not understand. Among these comments are those about story-telling itself which may be key to understanding Billy's world and ours. McCarthy's odd narrational devices, his inimitable use of metaphor set against a background of realistic detail makes this volume the equal of the first in the trilogy. The story is bleak and narrates a tale of preservation in a world filled with enmity, yet it is a world that has many kind people and one in which Billy survives to see visions of unusual days and nights and perhaps a future.
joeltallman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A deeply symbolic, deeply moving meditation on men and frontiers and family and death and pride and spirit.
yeremenko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I stop short of 5/5 simply because much of this book is like the first part of the border trilogy. McCarthy's descriptions are sharp and vivid. The scenes roll off his pen like the landscape in which they are set. The dialogue is exceptional. I always want to talk like one of his cowboys after reading one of his books. Another great aspect is that he leads us to think we are into another standard western story, but then takes a turn into original. fascinating plots.
Periodista on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
He is amazing. The comparisons to Faulkner and Hemingway are apt but there's the Latino flavor too. I'm not just referring to the setting in Mexico or the copious use of Spanish. (And I could understand almost all the Spanish! This would be a good novel to recommend to second semester Spanish students--a good motivator to learn more)There's also the feeling of Latino literature. The way many LA writers tell a tale. The Mexican characters verge on the allegorical or the magical realist. I thought of how Fellini would film this--the caravan of actors, the opera singer bathing, the nameless girl barely escaping the gang of ladrones/rapists/murderers.And the way the Mexican characters talk! Big themes, the meaning of life, God, civil war. Contrast this with the laconic (though colorfully idiomatic) language of the American characters. Or should I say the characters when in America?Finally, very near the end, we get about a paragraph's work of self talk from Billy, told to an unsympathetic gringo who happens upon his campfire. What's that all about? How much has Billy learned?
wrhazel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Crossing, by Cormac McCarthy is the second novel in the border crossing series (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Cities of the Plain). It details various journeys by the main character and the protagonist, Billy Parham. It is called The Crossing because it literally depicts Parham crossing the border between the United States and Mexico. He crosses the border 3 times, and in those 3 crossings he has extensive, dangerous, long and arduous journeys. The book takes place in the late 1930¿s, and the book depicts Parham when he is a 16 year old boy and growing up. Every time Parham crosses the border, he is attempting to accomplish a task, and his crossings take place over a number of years. The book takes on a much darker and more somber tone than the previous book, All the Pretty Horses, as Billy takes on a more personal journey in his search for self. Our theme this quarter was the search for self. In All the Pretty Horses, Parham is constantly on a search for who he is, and what is his purpose. He is a boy at the start of the novel with only 16 years of age, and by the end of the novel he is 21, and has spent 5 years wandering the countryside of Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico. This book starts with Parham trying to take a she- wolf back into the mountains of Mexico. In this journey and all the other journeys Parahm embarks on, he goes attempting to accomplish a task. It is in this task he is attempting to find out his purpose, and who he is. This book is sad because towards the end of the novel, he just begins to realize more and more he does not know who he is, or what his purpose is. He feels though he failed in his goal. His search for self is long, arduous, and saddening. It is a perfect example of blind effort, and the reader feels all the pain Parham feels in his search for self. I would recommend this novel if you have read All the Pretty Horses and enjoyed it. This book is longer, and is much more depressing and sad. The setting in the deserts of Mexico and Arizona is the same as in All the Pretty Horses and the appeal of the wild of Mexico is really intriguing. In summation, I would give this book about 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was not as good as All the Pretty Horses, but The Crossing in my opinion is yet another classic of American Literature and a search for self.
daizylee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I actually like this best of the trilogy.
presto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set just before the Second World War, sixteen year old Billy Parham is living with his parents and younger brother on a ranch in New Mexico. The appearance of a wolf in the area captivates Billy's imagination, and when he eventually traps the animal, on an impulse he decides to take it back into Mexico from whence it came. However when he eventually returns to the family ranch it is not as he left it. He journeys into Mexico twice more, once with his younger brother, and then again at the age or twenty.The Crossing, the second book in the Border Trilogy, is a gripping, and often moving account of a young boy's adventures and troubles. While filled with minute detail words are never wasted, and McCarthy's only use of punctuation is the full stop, and even that is used with economy. Billy's story is occasionally interspersed with the stories of others, such as that of the ageing blind man. A lot of the dialogue is in Spanish, and there are no translations, but that does not seem to interfere with or hamper one's understanding. The Crossing is a most absorbing and memorable read.
liquifred on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazing book in three parts. At the end of the first I was wondering where the story could possibly go, and wasnt disappointed with subsequent "crossings". This book would easily be a five in all categories, but for one thing - the amount of spanish. I understand why it was there, and it does add to the exotic, otherworldly feel of Mexico in the book sharply distinct from the more ordered US (at least on the surface). However as a non-spanish speaker I found myself ripped out of the world in which I was willingly immersed by large sections of unintelligible (to me) dialogue. If only there were subtitles! I guess I figured out enough to get by and really loved the book overall... perhaps on a second reading I will get more out of it, maybe with an internet translator handy (!)
alissamarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Our hero wanders about the southwestern American countryside and crosses into Mexico several times, sleeps on the plains, waters the horses, and looks at the stars. But the pages and pages of tranquility are broken, suddenly and without warning, by violence and horrific sights. Probably better than "All the Pretty Horses", but certainly not easy to read.
raggedprince on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second of the border trilogy, and my favourite. The book seems to outgrow itself and take on majesty. Early on we grow to intensely like the young man, and then share in the experiences of his savage adventure. The mind attempts to classify in vain each mini narrative, to find the meaning - is it a fable or not? Instead i was left with a sense of wonder.
donkeytiara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
my favorite book of all time. the writing, like the landscape, is desolate and beautiful. The ending? Utterly the most stunning of all. Savor this book as you read it... because soon, you won't be able to read it for the first time again.....
lriley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second book of McCarthy's border trilogy--The Crossing follows the peregrinations of one Billy Parham--a pre World War II teenager living on a ranch in rural New Mexico. Along with his father and his brother Boyd they are tracking a she-wolf which has strayed up from Mexico and is wreaking havoc on the various cattle ranches in their part of the world. Billy takes the lead in tracking the wolf upon himself and finally manages to catch her in a steel trap. Rather than shoot it though he makes a spur of the moment decision to take the wolf back to Mexico--where it came from. In the aftermath of this decision his life and that of his family will change irrevocably. McCarthy is pretty much on top of his game in this one--meditating on the meaning of life and death in a strange and alien with a sometimes apocalyptic landscape filling out the background. Over the course of the book Billy Parham will find himself returning to Mexico twice more--both times the result of family catastrophes that leave him an orphan--and then all alone in the world. By its end there is a kindly of lonesome hardwon redemption for him--but whether it was worth the price he pays for it is very open to question.I have read reviews that think that the first section about the wolf is maybe McCarthy's finest writing ever. I would not argue with that. There is a raw and understated emotional quality to McCarthy's prose here that is especially evident in that first part but also can be seen throughout the text. Combined with the epic Odyssey like plotline and the apocalyptic landscapes and the often existentialist/religious like meditations of many of those whom Billy meets along and converses with along his via crucis--that I found this to be an intriguing book throughout. Excellently written and well thought out and plotted. A minor warning though--oftentimes McCarthy has Billy conversing in spanish with other characters. Sometimes he hints at what is being said within the paragraph or in the next paragraph but not always. Having very rudimentary spanish reading skills I was able to pick up the gist about 90% of the time but it may bother some who do decide to read this. In any case despite that I would highly recommend this book of his and would rate this along with Suttree as my favorite of his works.
SanctiSpiritus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my third McCarthy novel. Cormac keeps astounding me with each page turned. This second installment of the Border trilogy is one of despair and sorrow. It is one of the most heart-wrenching tales I've ever seen upon a page. Once finished, I literally felt huge waves of melancholy all day. I sat and glared at the last page, mouth agape.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
McCarthy has written better works.  While I really like his clean prose, the vulgar language is a turn-off at times.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Sits down gracefully with her new purple hoodie fitting comfortably around her white body* "hello," she calls, "Aurora? You here?" *She puts in her earbuds and waits, her bright green eyes roving for the butterfly*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago