Book Review: All The Pretty Horses

Book Review: All The Pretty HorsesCormac McCarthy holds a unique position in the literary community: Practically untouchable. He has both the guts and the gumption to wade into drowning pools that other authors can't dip a toe in. McCarthy is well known for his acute sense of southern darkness, often writing about the depths of depravity people have sunk to, putting a magnifying glass to the appalling violence humans engage in on the fringes of civilization. He does so with a wisdom and unflinching eye rarely found in literature.

'All The Pretty Horses' shows a slightly softer side of Cormac. At it's core, this is a love story. John Grady Cole comes from a long line of ranchers facing extinction in the late 1940s. At sixteen he leaves Texas and rides south with his best friend to Mexico, where his skills with taming and training horses can be put to good use on a rich man's ranch. They meet and befriend a third boy on the way who proves troublesome for the trio. And once settled south of the border, John Grady falls in love with the ranch owner's daughter which leads to a whole new set of problems.

Don't let "love story" fool you though, and don't get too comfortable. The story still has Cormac's signature bleakness and magnificence of life in the open country. Set in the middle of the last century, life takes on a toughness and simplicity rarely seen today. There is violence and despair, the harsh realities of innocence coming into contact with a world infected by moral corruption. It was a time where boys became men at a far younger age, where people were forced grow up and face hardships early in their lives. It was a time where everything from traveling, encountering strangers, and sometimes merely existing tempted a much higher mortality rate.

'All The Pretty Horses' is yet another short brilliant novel from the man whose ability to immerse us in the horrors and hope of the human condition is legendary; one of the undisputed masters of the written word.

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