In All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy begins his Border Trilogy with a coming of age tale that is a departure from the bizarre richness and mysterious violence of his early novels, yet in many ways preserves the mystery and the richness in a more understated form. Like Blood Meridian, this novel follows a young man's journey to the regions of the unknown. John Grady Cole, more heroic than the protagonists of McCarthy's earlier novels, confronts the evil that is an inescapable part of the universe as well as the evil that grows out of his own ignorance and pride. His story is told in a style often restrained and simple, embedded with lyrical passages that echo his dreams and memory.
In the spring of 1948 on a small Texas ranch, sixteen year old John Grady Cole attends the funeral of his grandfather, with whom he has lived since his parents' separation. The grandfather's ranch has been left to John Grady's mother, a small-time actress who has no interest in it and will sell it. John Grady's father, psychologically damaged by World War II and now physically ill as well, tells his son goodbye. With no apparent future in Texas, and sensing the threat of the new era to the traditional life he values, John Grady urges his old friend Rawlins to accompany him to Mexico. There, John Grady will find that his innocence, or ignorance, will ultimately lead him close to destruction.
Before reaching the border they meet Jimmy Blevins, a dangerous young boy on a magnificent horse. Even though Cole and Rawlins do not trust Blevins and are sure his horse is stolen, they allow him to join them despite their doubts. As they ride into Mexico, they realize that they are no longer in a world that they can understand. When Blevins' clothes and horse disappear during a thunderstorm, they search a nearby Mexican town, where they find the clothes and finally the horse. In spite of Rawlins' voiced forebodings, Blevins steals the horse back, and as John Grady and Rawlins flee the town Blevins gallops past them, pursued by armed men.
John Grady and Rawlins ride south, coming at last to a ranch, the Hacienda de Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Conception. As they talk with the vaqueros about the possibility of employment, John Grady sees a beautiful girl on a black horse, Alejandra, the daughter of hacendado Don Hector Rocha y Villareal. The heir of an aristocratic family, Don Hector is avidly interested in breeding wild mountain horses with his own stock, so John Grady and Rawlins join the vaqueros; John Grady amazes everyone with his ability to break the wild horses quickly and gently.
When Don Hector questions Cole about his past, he omits the episode with Blevins and the fact that he and Rawlins may now be wanted as accomplices in Blevins's horse theft. Concerned about his blossoming relationship with Alejandra, Duena Alfonsa, Don Hector's aunt and Alejandra's godmother, warns John Grady away from the rebellious girl, and informs him that Don Hector will never allow her to marry an American, especially a poor one. But Alejandra comes to him one night and they become lovers.
A few days later John Grady and Rawlins are arrested and taken to a jail in Encantada, where Blevins is already imprisoned for the murder of three men. While the three Americans are transported to the state prison at Saltillo, Blevins is taken from the group and shot. At the prison, they are questioned and beaten, and Rawlins is injured seriously. John Grady, attacked by another prisoner, whom he must kill, learns that evil exists not only in the world but in himself. When he and Rawlins are suddenly released as mysteriously as they were arrested, Rawlins returns to Texas.
But John Grady goes back to La Purisima to search for Alejandra, who is not there. Once again Duena Alfonsa makes clear to him the impossibility of the match. She tells her own story of the power of ignorance and evil (her love for a man who was killed by a mob after helping depose the dictator Diaz) and of her determination to protect Alejandra. Although John Grady does meet Alejandra one last time at a hotel in Zacatecas, it is only as a farewell: she chooses her family's approval (and perhaps their money). In pain, Cole returns to Encantada where he finds Blevins's horse, innocent like all animals and yet the cause of much death and loss. John Grady captures both the horse and the brutal police captain who shot Blevins, and heads homeward. En route, the captain is seized by brigands with a score to settle with him, and John Grady finally returns to Texas.
He finds even less there than before: his father and his childhood nurse are both dead. He rides on with the stolen horse, seeking to restore it to its rightful owner. John Grady has learned, but not yet enough; he has left home and returned a changed man, but there is no home to receive him. All the Pretty Horses is a hero's quest without a neat resolution, a book in which the strange light of mythic struggles shines through the quick-paced adventure.
The Border Trilogy continues with Volume Two, The Crossing, and concludes with the third volume, Cities of the Plain.
By the author of Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, Suttree is the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville. Remaining on the margins of the outcast community there-a brilliantly imagined collection of eccentrics, criminals, and squatters-he rises above the physical and human squalor with detachment, humor, and dignity.
In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard-a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape-haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail. While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.
An American classic, The Orchard Keeper is the first novel by one of America's finest, most celebrated novelists. Set is a small, remote community in rural Tennessee in the years between the two world wars, it tells of John Wesley Rattner, a young boy, and Marion Sylder, an outlaw and bootlegger who, unbeknownst to either of them, has killed the boy's father. Together with Rattner's Uncle Ather, who belongs to a former age in his communion with nature and his stoic independence, they enact a drama that seems born of the land itself. All three are heroes of an intense and compelling celebration of values lost to time and industrialization.
A woman bears her brother's child, a boy, the brother leaves the baby in the woods and tells her he died of natural causes. Discovering her brother's lie, she sets forth alone to find her son. Both brother and sister wander through a countryside being scourged by three terrifying strangers, toward an apocalyptic resolution.
A startling encounter on a New York subway platform leads two strangers to a run-down tenement where a life or death decision must be made.
In that small apartment, “Black” and “White,” as the two men are known, begin a conversation that leads each back through his own history, mining the origins of two fundamentally opposing world-views. White is a professor whose seemingly enviable existence of relative ease has left him nonetheless in despair. Black, an ex-con and ex-addict, is the more hopeful of the men—though he is just as desperate to convince White of the power of faith as White is desperate to deny it.
Their aim is no less than this: to discover the meaning of life.
Deft, spare, and full of artful tension, “The Sunset Limited” is a beautifully crafted, consistently thought-provoking, and deceptively intimate work by one of the most insightful writers of our time.
"The fulfilled renown of Moby-Dick and of As I Lay Dying is augmented by Blood Meridian, since Cormac McCarthy is the worthy disciple both of Melville and Faulkner," writes esteemed literary scholar Harold Bloom in his Introduction to the Modern Library edition. "I venture that no other living American novelist, not even Pynchon, has given us a book as strong and memorable."
Cormac McCarthy's masterwork, Blood Meridian, chronicles the brutal world of the Texas-Mexico borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century. Its wounded hero, the teenage Kid, must confront the extraordinary violence of the Glanton gang, a murderous cadre on an official mission to scalp Indians and sell those scalps. Loosely based on fact, the novel represents a genius vision of the historical West, one so fiercely realized that since its initial publication in 1985 the canon of American literature has welcomed Blood Meridian to its shelf.
"A classic American novel of regeneration through violence," declares Michael Herr. "McCarthy can only be compared to our greatest writers."
Set in our own time along the bloody frontier between Texas and Mexico, this is Cormac McCarthy's first novel since Cities of the Plain completed his acclaimed, best-selling Border Trilogy.
Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, instead finds men shot dead, a load of heroin, and more than $2 million in cash. Packing the money out, he knows, will change everything. But only after two more men are murdered does a victim's burning car lead Sheriff Bell to the carnage out in the desert, and he soon realizes how desperately Moss and his young wife need protection. One party in the failed transaction hires an ex-Special Forces officer to defend his interests against a mesmerizing freelancer, while on either side are men accustomed to spectacular violence and mayhem. The pursuit stretches up and down and across the border, each participant seemingly determined to answer what one asks another: how does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?
A harrowing story of a war that society is waging on itself, and an enduring meditation on the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies, No Country for Old Men is a novel of extraordinary resonance and power.