Posted by: Matt | May 29, 2008

All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses
Cormac McCarthy
302 pgs

After his parents divorce, 16 year old John Grady Cole and his friend Lacey Rawlins decide to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico. The year is 1949, and while most would travel the highways in a car, this pair travel by horseback. Shortly before making the crossing they meet up with the mysterious 14 year old Jimmy Blevins who is determined to tag along. After losing his horse in Mexico, Blevins steals it back while Cole and Rawlins take a different path finding work on a ranch. Unfortunately the trouble caused by the young Blevins will come back to haunt them all.

The first two thirds of the novel is used to introduce the reader to Cormac McCarthy’s view of Texas and Mexico with his unique use of punctuation and prose. Though not as sparse as in his most recent novel The Road, McCarthy’s usual wordsmithing is on display again in All the Pretty Horses, the first in his Border Trilogy. Some sentences run on for entire paragraphs with incredible metaphors and beautiful imagery. In the final third the story begins to pick up as John Grady Cole is faced with isolation and heartache culminating in painful decisions.

The real weakness of this novel lies in the first two thirds which is much slower plot wise. If you haven’t read a McCarthy novel before or if you have and didn’t enjoy it this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re a fan go ahead, pick up All the Pretty Horses, the writing and the end are worth it.

Rating: 8.0



  1. Interesting to read your thoughts on this one, Matt. I Haven’t read it; I jumped right to the 2nd in the series for no good reason. I also posted on my McCarthy reading today! I’ve heard so much about The Road, that has got to be my next one, I think.

  2. This was the first McCarthy book I’d read and while I picked it up because the movie made absolutely no sense, and the book clarified nothing, I loved the book. The movie lifted verbatim several of the soliloques.

  3. I keep meaning to read this. Interesting to see you found the first two thirds slow, but stuck it out for the last third. I wonder sometimes how often my being quick to give up on a book keeps me from finding the treasure further in.

  4. This was the first McCarthy book I read, and I liked it because of the writing. I was really taken by his style. But somehow I never wanted to pick up The Road, because I thought it would be depressing…

  5. Glad to see you enjoyed this – I’m tackling NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN soon; hopefully I like it as much as I like his other stuff.

    And – welcome back!

  6. Ted – Well it looks like the books in the trilogy aren’t really connected story wise so… The Road was good but my favorite of his is Blood Meridian.

    Carrie K – I’m glad you loved the book, you should try some more McCarthy, he’s great.

    dew – Well I was more likely to stick this one out because McCarthy has become one of my favorite authors.

    gentle reader – The Road is depressing so maybe it’s better you didn’t pick it up. 🙂

    Bibliolatrist – I really enjoyed No Country for Old Men so I hope you like it. And thanks!

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