R.G. Evans's Reviews > The Crossing

The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
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Aug 30, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

I don't remember the last time I took this long to finish a novel, but in the case of The Crossing, it was time well spent. Much of the dialogue is in Spanish, although the lengthier exchanges and the tales told by those Billy meets shift to English. Since the Spanish exchanges are mostly as rudimentary as a high school Spanish 2 class, one wonders why McCarthy even chose to include it. Verisimilitude? Local flavor? It certainly doesn't detract from the power of this formidable novel. Cormac McCarthy is, implausibly, the literary heir to both Faulkner and Hemingway: Faulkner in his complex and philosophical syntax and sentences; Hemingway in his laser focus on the true sentence with no wasted words. All this and considerable humor (?) too in this novel. The novel's protagonist, Billy Parham, is a cipher who crosses the border into Mexico three times in the novel's time frame, leading up to World War II, each crossing a quest tale in itself. It is not Billy who is important, however, but rather the various characters he encounters along the way who tell him stories of their lives or of their journeys. (One of these characters relates the most horrific story of trauma inflicted upon the human eyes I have ever read.) In this way, The Crossing is a kind of hybrid of The Odyssey and The Decameron set in the early 20th Century American west.
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