yana's Reviews > All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
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Jun 24, 07

Recommended to yana by: ms. sinkler
Read in January, 1999

i boycotted this book for years because of the title... it sounded too girly, and i had no desire to read a book about horses, much less pretty ones. this was despite the fact that it had been first strongly recommended to me by an amazing high school english teacher who always had impeccable tastes in literature. man did i have no idea what i was missing due to my snobbish snubbery. luckily my dear friends janae and kristine mailed me a copy while i was living in Poland, in a giant birthday box full of top-notch used books, and i finally decided to give it a chance one cold february day when i was home sick and delirious with a 104 degree fever in the middle of the bleak polish winter. it sounds cliche but i truly think i didnt put it down from the moment i picked it up. page one pretty much tore down all my pre-conceptions about what a book could be like whose title contained the word "pretty."

Cormac McCarthy's writing is very Man-ly, with a capital M - this aint no pretty girl book. But at the same time as being incredibly Man-ly, it is unbelievably lyrical and beautiful. There were sentences that literally pained me with their beauty. The situations he describes are dark, bleak, often hopeless, yet he's able to extract gorgeousness from them and often completely knocks you down with waves of emotion. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to capture very real, raw dialogue, dialogue that never for a moment sounds like a movie script, but rather perfectly captures the minimalist grunting of men of few words. And like a fine japanese filmmaker, he captures the pauses amid the dialogue just as well. His writing reminds me most of Willam Faulkner - he'll intersperse breathless run-on sentences that take up an entire page with chapters containing a single line, and although his style mostly isnt much like Hemingway's, he does have a similar way of throwing in spanish sentences without translation - so those who dont speak the language must just assume the meaning from the context, and those who do can float almost effortlessly between the spanish and english sentences without second thought. it's one of those books that makes you want to get inside the author's head (i had a similar feeling when i read the Sound and the Fury) - who is this man? where do his thoughts come from? is this how he thinks all the time? are all this thoughts this perfectly worded and beautiful? does he have a keen understanding of the world and its minute details that the rest of us dont?
My last raving comment is that i was so affected by this book, the first in a trilogy, that i immediately set out by train to the nearest larger town to find the second installment in an english-language bookstore, and immediately devoured it once i found it, (finding it even bleaker and more depressing, if possible, yet also even more beautiful and enjoyable to read than the first), and then had someone in the States send me the third and final volume, but i was so taken by the first two, that i couldnt read the third book, being unable to accept the idea of the trilogy being over. never mind the fact that mccarthy has dozens of other books i could then enjoy - it seemed important that i save the last installment, for such a moment when i really needed to read something amazing. it gave me comfort to know that another book like these first two was out there waiting for me in the world, unread. Eight years have passed and i still havent read it. my great pleasure at this point is that once i do decide to finally read it, it's been long enough since i read the first two that really i should read them again to refresh my memory - so i'm excited to experience them all over again. but its possible i'll just never read the third, despite my intense curiosity (since in it the paths of the lead characters of the first and second finally cross). but i just like knowing it's out there, still waiting to be read.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Adam I agree with you saying that you 'boycotted the book' because it sounded too girly. I too was hesitant about it but after i read "The Road' by McCarthy i decided theres no way it could be girly. -adam c.-

Donna I feel the same way. I don't like to read "girly" books but I am in the process now and so far so good.

Whitney Don't judge a book by its title! (Especially a Cormac McCarthy book!)

Marge I've read two other novels by McCarthy - The Road and Blood Meridien. I thought they were fabulous. Like you, I love sentences that "pain me with their beauty." Some people don't like McCarthy not following grammatical rules (I always follow them - but that is me), but the way he does it works (and that is what counts). I just read the first two pages of All the Pretty Horses, but I'm at work and it is just too noisy here - I need peace and quiet to be able to absorb so much beauty! Thank you for your wonderful review.

message 5: by Calico (new) - added it

Calico Marty The book is titled after an obscure lullaby—like a funeral for the child Cole.

message 6: by Nikos79 (last edited May 20, 2011 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nikos79 Excellent review!! Congratulations. I have discovered McCarthy a year ago and I read 5 of his books so far. He is a great author. However i think this is the best of the Border Trilogy (I noticed that u prefered more the 2nd one). Maybe it's because i read these three books in a short time this one "clicked" me more as being the first. Anyway all of his books are super. Try Llosa if you haven't so far. I think you 'll like his writing as well

Robin Your review of All the Pretty Horses is spot on for me. It's a beautifully rendered portrait of a way of life and a kind of people, one of my all-time favorite novels.

message 8: by Anne (new) - added it

Anne I was afraid to read it because I thought it described horses dying and I have my limits! But you had to give it a chance & loved it, so I thought I'd try it. But then you said you like The Sound & the Fury. I hate the Sound and the Fury. Well. Crap.

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