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The Crossing

(The Border Trilogy #2)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  30,130 ratings  ·  1,982 reviews
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 an ...more
Hardcover, 426 pages
Published June 7th 1994 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published June 1994)
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Dan West They are stand alone novels, but I would tend to recommend reading them in order if you plan to read all three for overarching structural/tonal/themat…moreThey are stand alone novels, but I would tend to recommend reading them in order if you plan to read all three for overarching structural/tonal/thematic reasons. All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing don't have much narrative relation to each other, but Cities of the Plain should definitely go third as it is informed by and brings together main characters from the first two novels.(less)
Ryan Moroney The point, unfortunately, is that every gesture can be rendered meaningless by the brutal forces of nature, and inevitability.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Best Westerns
1,079 books — 1,297 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittTrue Grit by Charles PortisAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Literary Westerns
210 books — 331 voters

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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  30,130 ratings  ·  1,982 reviews

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Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Enormously affecting. A boy and his father set out to trap a wolf that is preying on their cattle. The man who had trapped them in the past, who opened the plains for countless thousands of cattle to graze is now dead, and the wolves have begun to return to their old hunting grounds from their retreat in Mexico. The father and son try to take up the trapping in the manner of the past master. The Crossing is about many things: the three journeys over four years into Mexico taken by the young Bill ...more
Beautiful, beautiful book. I am such a fan of Cormac McCarthy. Poetic realism, I would describe his style.
Michael Finocchiaro
Far more melancholic than its predecessor All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing is a beautiful if bleak western full of poetry and philosophical musings. The Billy character is wonderfully drawn and in particular the first part of the book with the wolf was outstanding. McCarthy's sparse Hemmingway-esque style lends an austere and yet often humorous tone to the dialogues - particularly those both spoken and unspoken between Billy and Boyd. I appreciate the author's reluctance to dummy down the sto ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
The Border Trilogy – Part 2 of 3

It is in the early 1940’s when Billy Pelham sets out on his first of three trips from his home to Mexico. He is sixteen and his first trip is to reunite a female wolf about to pup with others of her kind in the mountains where she came from.

When he returns home to New Mexico from his journey, his life as he knew it has changed. The family’s horses have been stolen and he and his 14 year old brother Boyd set out to retrieve them. During this longer journey, Billy t
Jason Koivu
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
One decision, as innocent as it may be, can fuck up your life forever. Now, you can live in fear and hide yourself away, or you can keep making those decisions and hope for the best, and if and when the shit hits the fan, you can stand strong and push on.

That's life. That's The Crossing.

Cormac McCarthy's "The Border" trilogy is where you'll find dusty plains, hard living, and a recent past populated by a people still living in an even more distant past. His characters are full of character, thei
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I did love this but found it slightly less successful than the first book in this trilogy. For one thing it follows an almost identical formula - innocence going out into the big bad world. The opening when a young boy watches wolves at play in the snow at night is magical. It continues in this gripping fashion when the boy takes pity on the wolf he and his father have caught in a trap and decides to take the injured animal back to the mountains of Mexico. The relationship he creates between the ...more
Joe Briggs
Jul 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The Crossing is an astonishing book, more downbeat than All the Pretty Horses, yet not as bleak as the likes of Blood Meridian, it is a sprawling coming-of-age tale filled with moments of beauty and sorrow. The descriptions are as beautiful as anything Cormac McCarthy writes, the action is sparse but nailbiting when it comes and the characters are brilliantly realised. There are moments when the book lags but whenever this happens you can be assured that within a couple of pages McCarthy will co ...more
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Alice Munro said in an interview that our lives begin as straightforward stories with the typical arc of fiction, but that as we go on living they become strange, experimental narratives, convoluted and difficult to interpret. It seems to me that's what's happening in this second volume of the Border Trilogy. Volume One was pretty straightforward, taut and clear in its construction. It told a story of a young man's searing introduction to the adult world. Volume Two does the same--with a differe ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This was very depressing, and that's just how life goes which is the point I think McCarthy was trying to make.
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Acts of God

“Before he reached the door the old man called to him again. The boy turned and stood. The matrix will not help you, the old man said. He said to catch the wolf the boy should find that place where the acts of God and those of man are of one piece. Where they cannot be distinguished. The old man said that it was not a question of finding such a place but rather of knowing it when it presented itself. He said that it was at such places that God sits and conspires in the destruction of
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure what I expected going into this read, but I certainly didn't expect such a radiant, brutal, multi-faceted experience. For me, it succeeded on so many levels. Often spartan with his language, McCarthy is exacting with its impact. A spur-of-the-moment decision sends young Billy into Mexico and creates a kind of Bildungsroman-as-lamentation. Every stranger he encounters is like an oracle in disguise. Some deliver advice. Some wish to deliver death. A world where hospitality and danger ...more
Sharon Huether
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Billy Parham, hunted a wolf that was being a nuisance on his family's ranch. After he catches the wolf in a trap he takes it into the mountains of Mexico. It was not a happy ending for the wolf.

When he traveled home to New Mexico there was more heart aches and disappointments.
Indians had stolen horses from the ranch.
He and his brother Boyd,travel back to Mexico to find the horses and the Indians. Nothing goes right.

Billy and Boyd go their separate ways. Boyd was hunted and killed.
Billy got away
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites

Some novels are never over, this is one. It's always going to be exquisite and cruel in the reading, it will be a book to read and love, to read and be devastated by: 'Some vast tragedy not of fact or incident or event but of the way the world was'.
Wayne Barrett
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it

Part II of The Border Trilogy. This wasn't nearly as good as 'All The Pretty Horses', but it was still a powerful novel... then again, why wouldn't it be? It's Cormack!
From his home in New Mexico, young Billy Parham decides to take a wild wolf that has been trapped and set it free in its faraway home in Mexico. Billy succeeds in setting the lobo free, but not like he intended. Because at that juncture there was an unseen obstacle in his path... there was 'A Crossing'.
I think the title is fittin
Bob Brinkmeyer
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The second volume of Cormac McCarthy’s magisterial Border Trilogy, The Crossing, introduces one of McCarthy’s most intriguing characters, Billy Parham, a teenager living with his family on a ranch in New Mexico in the 1940s. The novel opens with a haunting scene when an Indian meets up with Billy and his younger brother Boyd and asks them to retrieve food for him from their family’s house. Billy agrees, but the scene is loaded with tension and danger—and Billy’s act of generosity sets in motion ...more
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Chupacabras, Duendes y Putas, Oh Mi
Bajada a los Infiernos al Sur de la Frontera
{revised 9/16/16, in honor of Mexican Independence Day}

"Life is a memory, and then it is nothing." The Crossing, C. McCarthy

This novel starts out well enough. The action gets started with teenage brothers setting out into the mountains of Mexico to retrieve the horses stolen from their small family ranch when their parents were murdered, while the brothers were away. Pretty much everything thereafter I detested almost
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘The Crossing’ (1994) – is the second part in Cormac McCarthy’s monumental, much revered and critically acclaimed border trilogy (preceded by ‘All The Pretty Horses’ and followed by ‘Cities of The Plain’).

‘The Crossing’ tells the story of one Billy Parham and opens with Billy’s attempted quest to return a trapped and injured wolf to Mexico from whence it came. This is a dark, powerful and poetic book and it is hard to capture or encapsulate the essence of ‘The Crossing’ any better than the quote
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Comparisons between this and All the Pretty Horses seem inevitable. Here we have another buldingsroman: a teenage cowboy who rides south into the Mexican frontier, coming of age through scenes of privation and violence. But Billy Parham's journey has a a peculiarly mystical quality all its own. He keeps meeting these extremely odd people out in the wilderness who feel the need to explain to him, in deliriously long, wide-ranging monologues, their gnostically inclined ideas of God, History, Man, ...more
May 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
The second novel in McCarthy’s Border Trilogy is not a sequel to All the Pretty Horses, but rather a parallel coming-of-age story. Billy Parham is a sixteen year old boy living on a ranch in New Mexico. When a wolf suddenly begins killing his family’s cattle, Billy’s father sets him with the task of trapping the wolf. A game of wits between boy and beast ensues, as the wolf repeatedly digs up the traps that have been set for her. When Billy finally outsmarts the wolf and catches her, he feels su ...more
After finishing All the Pretty Horses, I felt (maybe somewhat unjustly) that the bar of expectation had been set extremely high. I realize that some (most?) people have a particular favorite part of McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, but I’d be hard-pressed to choose one after reading The Crossing. However, the change was noticeable and I was relieved that the second book wasn’t just a rehashing of the first in theme and tone. The Crossing does maintain the elegant, sprawling prose contrasted by McCarth ...more
May 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book less. I was all the more disappointed because I have liked everything else I've read of McCarthy. This felt like paint by numbers McCarthy to me: male characters laconic to the point of absurdity, but stopping often to listen to portentous theological soliloquies. Wandering through desert landscape, and experiencing sudden senseless violence. It is devoid of feeling until the final page--practically an autistic novel--and ultimately offers nothing ...more
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third consecutive Cormac McCarthy novel I've read, and I'm about to start a fourth. So at this point I'm convinced that he is an outstanding writer - the only point I'm undecided on is whether The Crossing gets 4 stars or 5 stars.

I did feel that the storyline was a little loose when compared to All The Pretty Horses. A few times the story felt like it completey wrapped up, but then it kind of kept going, awkwardly finding a new direction. The book really reads like three separate st
Jan 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Judging from the four—closing in on five—Cormac McCarthy novels I've read so far, he is not a writer eager to share an abundant sense of humor with his readers. So the folksy (and very funny) joke an elder fellow cattle-rancher tells to The Crossing’s protagonist Billy Parham less than fifty pages into the more than 400 page novel is a rarity, if not a singularity:
There was this Texas lion and this New Mexico lion. They split up on the divide and went off to hunt. Agreed to meet up in the spring
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a campfire tale about the humble genesis of a teenage Bad Ass cowboy from the desert southwest.

The story has 4 parts, each beginning and ending with a US-Mexico border crossing (hence the title). The crossing of the border takes Billy, the main character, a 16 year old boy, from a stark world of American reality to an almost dreamy, magical world of Mexican legend. There's a transcendental relationship between Billy and the earth & elements when he's south of the border. The relationsh
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Cormac McCarthy novels are proof that words are just as powerful, or arguably more so, than images. Reading The Crossing, I lost a little piece of my sanity as I traversed Mexican plains with Billy, the ubiquitous dust drying my mouth. I gazed into the eyes of a starving, pregnant wolf. I caressed tired horses and drank the mescal.

The storytellers who captivated Billy enthralled me. I saw the flickers in their eyes and the slight motions of their hands as they created a world in my mind. As my O
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Powerful writer. Too dark. Appreciated first two Border books. Location, Location, Location, something about Mexico compulsively attractive.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit it freely- I was unprepared for Cormac McCarthy. Sure, I've heard all the reviews: that he's bleak, despairing, has a dark and twisted worldview, offers little hope for the future, et cetera ad nauseum. It's one thing to hear about this and to know that cracking a Cormac McCarthy book is not going to be an exercise in gumdrops and rainbows, it's a whole other thing to actually open a book and expose yourself to over 400 pages of brutally hard-living and events that shake your faith in ...more
Evan Leach
Like McCarthy’s other work, this second entry in the Border Trilogy (a series of novels set around the border of the U.S. and Mexico near the middle of the 20th century) features lyrical prose, vivid descriptions of landscapes and nature, memorable dialogue and scenes that are hard to forget. This book has even more of a philosophical bent than some of McCarthy’s other novels, as many of the people the protagonist meets on his travels (priests, ex-soldiers, gypsies, etc.) engage him in deep meta ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it liked it
It makes me a little sad to rate this so low, because there are certain parts of the book that I loved ... certain passages that were so breathtaking, I've already reread them a few times over. While part 1 was really excellent, especially the ending, I mostly found this book a chore to read. Not a whole lot of plot, more of a meandering journey meeting random people who give soliloquies lasting several pages. A lot of philosophizing, which fortunately was often not so esoteric and could be pers ...more
Jun 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007, own
My impression of this one mirrors many of the reviews I've read:

The first section with Billy and the wolf is stunning and surely among the best descriptions of man's relationship with the wild in literature.

The middle section meanders. I felt I needed a map to keep track of the brothers' wanderings in and out of Mexico, and many of their encounters with minor characters were unsatisfying. It was difficult to believe Boyd's connection with "the girl" when she wasn't even given a name.

The final t
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Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels in the Southern Gothic, western, and post-apocalyptic genres and has also written plays and screenplays. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for The Road, and his 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted as a 2007 film of the same name, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

His earlier Blood M

Other books in the series

The Border Trilogy (3 books)
  • All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)
  • Cities of the Plain (The Border Trilogy, #3)

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