Despite its length, and its attention to repetitive detail, Cormac McCarthy's `Border Trilogy' is a gripping and addictive read. The capabilities of his teenage cowboy heroes, whether trapping a live wolf and leading it back to Mexico, breaking in wild horses, tracking down wild dogs, or taking on well armed bandits in fights, make the fable surreal, as does the graphic appearance of many larger than life almost pantomime characters.
But the struggle to survive the adversities of life, whether the hostility of nature in the wild, or the dysfunctionality of human society, are all too real. The duplicities and horrors of the Mexican revolution, the cynical abuse of women by pimps, the stealing and killing by roaming criminal gangs, are powerfully portrayed as the challenge for the heroic life. The survival of a supportive network of generous household hospitality and virtue to sustain the hero in action is a hope we might all share.
The delicate intricacy of McCarthy's text richly colours the detail of every event, absorbing the reader intimately into the narrative. The length of the book and the inclusion of Spanish in the dialogue, which have been criticised and sent up by some reviewers, most amusingly by J Taylor in a comment on his own review, in fact are effective devices to create and convey atmosphere. The reality is long and arduous, and southern US states are bilingual.