BOOK REVIEW: ALL THE PRETTY HORSES BY CORMAC MCCARTHY

all-the-pretty-horses

GENERAL INFORMATION

TITLE: ALL THE PRETTY HORSES

AUTHOR: CORMAC MCCARTHY

PAGES: 310

PUBLISHER: PICADOR

YEAR: 1992

GENRE: LITERARY FICTION

COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_Pretty_Horses_(novel)

www.cormacmccarthy.com

BLURB FROM THE COVER

‘All the Pretty Horses’, the first novel of the Border Trilogy, published in 1992, was an international bestseller, winning both the National Book Award and the National Critics Circle Award.

It tells the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself the last bewildered survivor of generations of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he ever imagined. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid in blood.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I was very disappointed overall with All the Pretty Horses. McCarthy just didn’t ‘do’ it for me with this one. I didn’t get along with it at all. I had high expectations because I thought The Road was great. All the Pretty Horses could easily have been written by a different author.  This is the second proper ‘literary’ novel I’ve read and neither impressed me. I’m seeing a theme here.

HIGHLIGHTS

I love the title. I think All the Pretty Horses is a great title. It fits McCarthy’s novel quite well but is still quite obscure. Just the way I like my titles.

McCarthy is a competent writer. Mostly. I think his descriptions were very vivid. I was completely submerged in the world he created. I felt the Mexican sun on my back and sweat ran down my face. McCarthy created a real sense of place.

McCarthy doesn’t use speech marks in his dialogue. I know this is a technique used by authors but I’ve never came across it before. I think this worked really well. I barely noticed it.

LOWLIGHTS

I had a real issue with the prose McCarthy uses in All the Pretty Horses. He uses a style known as polysyndeton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysyndeton). This is when conjunctions are used in rapid succession where they’re usually omitted (i.e. he ran and jumped and laughed for joy). I want to find whoever invented this prose style and execute them so it can never pollute the world of literature again. This slowed the pace of All the Pretty Horses to a standstill and created long-winded sentences. I was bored to tears for large chunks of the novel. I don’t get along with slow paced novels. They bore me.

McCarthy uses very formal language in All the Pretty Horses. This combined with lack of punctuation marks and the use of polysyndeton just didn’t work for me. It just made the novel extremely tedious in places. I zoned out a few times.

The plot of All the Pretty Horses sounds very tense and dramatic. It really wasn’t. Any tension, suspense or drama was lost amid the LOOOOOOOOOOOONGGGGGGGGGGG sentences and dry prose.

There are fairly large chunks of dialogue in All the Pretty Horses written in Spanish. I take real issue with an author so arrogant to pull something like that. There’s no translation or hint of one in the prose so I was left scratching my head and thinking WTF many times. That’s not acceptable McCarthy.

THE OPENING LINE

THE CANDLEFLAME and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door…   

FINAL THOUGHTS

All the Pretty Horses just didn’t work for me. I’ve did some research online and apparently the style of this novel and the other two in the Border Trilogy are different than McCarthy’s other works. I might read another one for comparison sake.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the movie starring Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_Pretty_Horses_(film).

RATING

2-star-rating

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