I was originally turned off by McCarthy as the first book I read by him was The Road, a post apocalyptic, disturbing novel. However, I am on a Texas streak and thought I would give the first of his Border Trilogy books a try, and I am glad I did. After all, how can a book entitled All the Pretty Horses be too disturbing?! While not nearly as bleak and unsettling as The Road, this novel still has its fare share of violence, but it also has some quiet moments and exquisite passages as well. Set in West Texas and Mexico, teenager John Grady Cole sets out with his friend Lacey Rawlins on horseback. "I just wanted to see the country, I reckon," says Grady. Complete with knife fights, romance, lightening storms, haciendas, and a general rough and tumble tone, McCarthy infuses this story with grit in a meticulously researched and authentic way. It seems to me that McCarthy perfectly captures the young cowboy - in his bravado and courage, chivalry and tight lipped manner, and very rarely, his expressions of tenderness (toward horses, friends, women, and children) and even sadness. One of my favorite scenes is when Grady sets out to propose to a girl and he sits with some children he meets and shares his meal with them, then tells them of his dilemma and they offer him various suggestions as to what he should do. It's one of the only moments that depicts Grady with a bit of kid-like energy still in him.
I plan to read the second book. My favorite passages:
"...they rode at once jaunty and circumspect, like thieves newly loosed in that dark electric, like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and ten thousand worlds for the choosing."
"What is constant in history is greed and foolishness and a love of blood and this is a thing that even God - who knows all that can be known - seems powerless to change."