Vol. II of The Border Trilogy
Volume two of McCarthy's Border Trilogy -- following the much-acclaimed National Book Award-winning All the Pretty Horses (1992) -- treads familiar territory but probes deeper into the darkness of the human animal. Like its predecessor, The Crossing concerns a young American rancher living near the Mexican border in the 1930s, a time when the old West is grudgingly entering the modern world while Mexico is being torn apart by revolution. And like volume one's memorable hero, John Cole Grady, 16-year-old Billy Pawson is drawn south in a nearly mythical journey to find himself. Billy initially crosses into Mexico to take a wolf he had trapped on his New Mexico ranch back to the animal's native mountains. When he returns, he finds that his home has been plundered, and he and his 14-year-old brother set off for Mexico to find their family's stolen horses. Traveling through the lawless ruins of the post-revolutionary Mexican countryside, they encounter Gypsy wanderers, carnival actors, horse-traders, horse thieves, revolutionary soldiers, and men of various religions. All offer sage advice about the journey, and Billy's failure to heed their wisdom sometimes has horrifying results. Relentless, frequently brutal, and morbidly fatalistic, the novel expresses once again McCarthy's essentially bleak vision. Because he is one of America's foremost literary craftsmen, it is also passionate and compelling. The author convincingly elevates seemingly ordinary events into near-religious moments: "They smoked the way poor people eat which is a form of prayer." Written in McCarthy's trademark prose -- clear, blunt, and often startlingly beautiful -- The Crossing "tells the tale of that solitary man who is all men." Like the tales of Homer and Melville, his timeless work will resonate for ages.