Cormac McCarthy Makes Me Want To Write

Hello, this past week has been kind of crazy so I wasn’t able to read as quickly as I wanted to, but I finished book #59 this morning. It was All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and I really, really liked it. McCarthy is such a dark, great writer. I’d read The Road before this one, as well as No Country for Old Men.

Both were equally gripping, tense, dark, sparse, but beautifully written, and that same pattern followed for AtPH. I’m also kind of surprised that I liked this one as much as I did, because I’m not a huge fan of the Western genre. Apparently I only like them when they’re written by McCarthy.

So the book was about John Grady Cole, a 16-year-old (going on like 54, based on his demeanor and crazy experiences) from Texas who decides to travel to Mexico with his friend Lacey Rawlins. During their journey, they meet the young alleged Jimmy Blevins, who is also riding to Mexico on a stolen horse.

All kinds of trouble ensues when Blevins joins the group, and the book becomes an intense string of violence, jail time, and murder. There’s also romance involved, but it’s all told in the sparing, straightforward style of McCarthy which makes it even more intense.

McCarthy’s writing style reminds me of Hemingway, full of simple language and descriptions and punctuated with intense action and violence. I consider some books to be prime for “casual reading,” meaning that I can read them and still pick up on everything no matter what else is going on, whether I’m tired or there’s a TV show in the background that I’m half-paying attention to.

All the Pretty Horses was not one of those books, and I think it will make for a rewarding reread. I found myself reading the same paragraph over two or three times just because so much happens with so little punctuation. Part of his sparse style also means using “he” or “they” in place of names, something that got confusing as new characters are introduced with very little description.

But I think that’s also what makes his writing great. You kind of have to work to find meaning and to keep up, which makes it worth it when you’re able to follow along in the crazy action sequences. More than anything, McCarthy makes me want to write.

Totally random side note that has nothing to do with anything: I have finally been reunited with my running shoes! So I’m about to go on my first run in too long. ◊

The fire had burned to coals and he lay looking up at the stars in their places and the hot belt of matter that ran the chord of the dark vault overhead and he put his hands on the ground at either side of him and pressed them against the earth and in that coldly burning canopy of black he slowly turned dead center to the world, all of it taut and trembling and moving enormous and alive under his hands.”

– page 119

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