Reading Log: Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Crossing’

Heavy book. I read the last 90 or so pages in a single sitting and after putting it down I felt like I was walking around in a fog, disassociated from reality and a little depressed. It’s long (428 pages) and McCarthy’s prose -although beautiful- isn’t often described as “breezy”. The brevity of his sentences are deceptive, and the minimalism requires a close, slow look. The narrative arc doesn’t follow and familiar archetype, giving the entire affair a tenseness born of the terrifying random nature of “real life”. McCarthy’s stories have always struck me as a precisely distilled reflection of the realities of the world we live in (especially this book’s predecessor, ‘All the Pretty Horses’) but ‘The Crossing’ is more like a high-contrast photo that hints that the true shape of things is something you might be happier not to see.

I don’t want to go into plot here, (although the book is more than worth the read just on a sentence-by-sentence examination of McCarthy’s brilliant use of language) since there is a certain powerful effect that relies on tension and lack of specific foreknowledge.The Crossing is the second book in the Border trilogy. It’s squarely in his wheelhouse, eschewing traditional grammar and conventions -the lack of punctuation or attribution doesn’t make it any faster to read, either. It’s also full of untranslated Spanish, and I’m far enough along to pick up about half of it, which actually means I’m spending more time with it, puzzling things out. The book is fantastic. At the same time… it isn’t the very best he’s done.

Recommendation: Read ‘All the Pretty Horses’ or ‘No Country for Old Men’ first. If you’re a fan, then you don’t need me to tell you to read this book.


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