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Butcher's Crossing (New York Review Books Classics)

Butcher's Crossing (New York Review Books Classics) [Kindle Edition]

John Williams , Michelle Latiolais
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"His Stoner is the book that has garnered the attention, but I prefer this earlier take on the Western has some gory, visceral passages that are not for the faint-hearted" (Kate Atkinson Irish Times)

"Shorn of sentimentality or decoration, the events and places [Williams] describes begin to feel inescapable, permanent, and rivetingly dramatic. This is language that seems to be carved into stone - into mountains... Stoner showed us a writer who had written a great book. To those of us who didn't know already, Butcher's Crossing reveals John Williams to be more than that: forgotten writer as he was, he was unquestionably also a great one" (Archie Bland Independent)

"Superbly understated" (Rosemary Goring Herald)

"One of the finest books about the elusive nature of the West ever written. It's a graceful and brutal story of isolated men gone haywire" (Time Out)

"Harsh and relentless yet muted in tone, Butcher's Crossing paved the way for Cormac McCarthy" (New York Times Book Review)

Book Description

The author of Stoner delivers something completely different but equally unique, skewering romantic notions of the Wild West with a brilliant, brutal tale of buffalo hunters that reverberates with understated power.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 462 KB
  • Print Length: 299 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1590171985
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (30 Mar 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,575 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Western Heart of Darkness 17 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a tremendous book. It concerns the journey of a young man from the "civilised" east into the "uncivilised" west in search of something unconfined and new, and the impact of what he discovers there in the savagery of the buffalo hunt.
Several other books came to mind while I was reading this including "The Heart of Darkness," "The Old Man and The Sea," and very definitely "Moby Dick."
If you are looking for a conventional western tale, this book may not be for you. There is no gun-slinging; there are no Indians or sheriffs - instead there is life on the edge of things, without morality or restraint, and the hypnotic fascination of slaughter and destruction. And the changes on the individual characters that elemental experience creates, as man rampages through the diminishing wilderness.
But while there may be allegory, there is also a riveting story of hardship and survival that is as gripping as it is realistic. We get the smell of the west, or the stench rather, and the burn of the sun and the brutality of the hard country and the snow, and - as the doomed buffalo are skinned - the peeling away of the outer layers of civilisation to show the raw meat underneath.
The book is divided into three parts: preparations to head out for the wild country; the finding, the killing and the marooned months of the buffalo hunt itself; and the return to the town of Butcher's Crossing, from which the hunting party set out.
Each part has its own strength and brilliance. The final part is apocalyptic and the very end masterly.
I had never heard of John Williams before happily stumbling across the kindle edition of this book. For me it had almost everything you look for in a novel: a strong story, sharp characterizations, pace, fine writing, and that other revelatory layer beneath it all that stays in the mind for a long, long time.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Butcher's Crossing - John Williams 28 July 2013
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
I don't know what it is about "westerns", but I love them. I suppose I am just catching-on to whatever the appeal has always been of the wide-open-space, the landscape, the roughness and beauty, the nobility of endeavour, the forging of a new land amid savagery. The romance of it all. And as with all my favourite romances, there're equal parts tragedy. This tells the story of a somewhat naive but experience-hungry youngster who goes in search of life out west, real life out west. He is led to bankroll a buffalo hunt, and a group of four men troop off over the landscape to endure its deprivations in the hope of bringing back glory, and in the young man's case even just experience.

Buthcher's Crossing is a wonderful novel. I haven't read a book this good in some time. Above all, whatever else it is or may be, it's beautiful. A gentle savage tender lump-in-the-throat piece of art. John Williams is a fabulous writer - he reminds me of William Maxwell slightly. He writes simply, but also languorously. It's perfect writing, and it's hard to place why. There's nothing else to it other than the earnest telling of a tale, its tragedies and glories held in the same tonal regard. It speaks volumes about the human spirit in adversity, the lengths of human hope, of delusion, of the nobility of the pioneer spirit. It's, of course, a very sad book at times, but it has that kind of cumulative power that simple yet relentlessly told books have - they drive on into you, regardless.

Now, I know there's a lot of noise about William's Stoner, which is another wonderful book (shame he wrote so few; perfect though each is), but Butcher's Crossing is in my view even a tiny bit better. He writes the kinds of books that dig down into the soil of the human soul and bring up pure gorgeous water.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLY A CLASSIC 10 Nov 2013
By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Shamefully John Williams is new to me, but not for long as I will now read all of his work because of the pleasure I got from Butcher's Crossing. It is a western, but not a gun slinging, Indian fighting type of western. It is much more than that.
Andrews a young man from a privileged Boston background sets out to find himself and his purpose on the edge of civilisation's still Wild West. Starting in Kansas he finances a buffalo hunt into the mountains of Colorado. There are four main characters: Miller the stoic hunt leader, his alcoholic side kick and wagon master Charlie Hoge, the skinner Fred Schnider and young Andrews himself .
The journey to the "hidden valley" in itself makes for a fine gripping yarn as they battle against the terrain with an unwieldy wagon and for a time a desperate lack of water. The slaughter of the beasts is unrelenting as Miller driven by blood lust or dollar greed determines to kill every one of the several thousand buffalo who have peacefully summered in this valley for centuries. Andrews learns under the tutelage of Schnider how to skin and stretch the hides and how to butcher the carcasses for sustenance. Gradually the youthful slack body becomes that of a hard man. Charlie like a true alcoholic quietly goes about the business of running the camp sustained by whiskey laced coffee. Never drunk , but never entirely sober and never far from his Bible.There is constant conflict between Miller and Schnider as to a limit to the killing and when to leave the valley before being trapped by winter snow. Andrews tries to be the voice of reason ,but is out of his depth in this situation while Charlie blindly and faithfully sides with Miller. There is a dubious possibly homosexual relationship between these two.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully well crafted novel
A wonderfully well crafted novel . John Williams doesn't need a thousand words to paint this picture of the west.
Published 2 days ago by colin moore
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Excellent descriptive writing.
Published 3 days ago by Brian Key
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, descriptive book about the harsh unforgiving life...
Beautifully written , descriptive book about the harsh unforgiving life of the buffalo hunter. The book focuses on 4 main characters all with their own reasons for being part of... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Susan Elizabeth Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read about a young man finding himself, and so much more
I like books about old America, so having not yet read Stoner by this rediscovered author, I was brought to this book by the reviews of the more famous book. It did not disappoint. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Janie in Suffolk
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutal, beautiful and tender
Brutal, beautiful, and tender, just like natural world into which these four men stray on a hunt in search of, riches, challenge, stimulation, or escape. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Kevin Chandler
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great western, frontier story of gruelling hardship. Short, easy read but worthwhile.
Published 9 days ago by Benjamin Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable
I raved about 'Stoner' as many of us did, and spurred on by the intense experience of reading that novel I also bought both 'Butcher's Crossing'. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Didier
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Great novel, I really enjoyed the attention to detail throughout, and the conclusion was brutally realistic. Well worth reading.
Published 26 days ago by MS ROBERTA DC TARRY
5.0 out of 5 stars A good tough read
This is a tough novel about buffalo hunters in remote Colorado and life in the small failing town where they live. Read more
Published 1 month ago by hfffoman
5.0 out of 5 stars Butchers Crossing
The book was well written, the characters were very believable and the storyline full of twists and turns,quite simply the best book I have read for years.Derek
Published 2 months ago by Derek Waters
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Popular Highlights

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But whatever he spoke he knew would be but another name for the wildness that he sought. It was a freedom and a goodness, a hope and a vigor that he perceived to underlie all the familiar things of his life, which were not free or good or hopeful or vigorous. What he sought was the source and preserver of his world, a world which seemed to turn ever in fear away from its source, rather than search it out, as the prairie grass around him sent down its fibered roots into the rich dark dampness, the Wildness, and thereby renewed itself, year after year. &quote;
Highlighted by 11 Kindle users
imagined it to be. That self was murdered; and in that murder he had felt the destruction of something within him, and he had not been able to face it. So he had turned away. &quote;
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“Well, there’s nothing,” McDonald said. “You get born, and you nurse on lies, and you get weaned on lies, and you learn fancier lies in school. You live all your life on lies, and then maybe when you’re ready to die, it comes to you—that there’s nothing, nothing but yourself and what you could have done. Only you ain’t done it, because the lies told you there was something else. Then you know you could of had the world, because you’re the only one that knows the secret; only then it’s too late. You’re too old.” &quote;
Highlighted by 9 Kindle users

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