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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hemingway for the 90s.
Once again Cormac McCarthy has written a novel that defines its time. Where All the Pretty Horses described the West in the years immediately after WW2, The Crossing travels back to the pre-war period where the Old West is in its death throes. The story of Billy Parnham, and the trials visited on him, is breathtaking and moving, climaxing in a violent manner that...
Published on 11 May 1999

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars South-Western U.S. language with Spanish words
This is a review of "The Crossing", "Picador Edition", by Cormac McCarthy. My book has a picture of a wolf drinking water on the front cover.

I speak/read/understand enough "American-Spanish" (Castellano) to have been able to read this without using a dictionary, but can imagine it being a frustrating experience for anyone without some knowledge of...
Published on 17 Feb 2012 by oggy


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hemingway for the 90s., 11 May 1999
By A Customer
Once again Cormac McCarthy has written a novel that defines its time. Where All the Pretty Horses described the West in the years immediately after WW2, The Crossing travels back to the pre-war period where the Old West is in its death throes. The story of Billy Parnham, and the trials visited on him, is breathtaking and moving, climaxing in a violent manner that no-one can predict. The only drawback in the Border Trilogy novels is McCarthy's over use of Spanish dialogue. For non-speakers this can detract from what is otherwise a superlative read. I can't wait to read the last instalment Cities of the Plain. With the first two books of the trilogy McCarthy has taken his place alongside Hemingway as one of the great writers of the American Novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Writing graven in stone, 10 May 2009
By 
Melmoth (London, England) - See all my reviews
It is impossible to read a single paragraph of Cormac McCarthy's without being struck by the extraordinary power of his authorial voice. He writes with the rhythms of the King James Bible and with same alternate plainness and power. There is a weight to his words that is seldom seen, a heft behind each sentence. It as if his prose were carved in stone.

Into these sentences and paragraphs, onto these words, these stones, McCarthy scatters a cast of men (and fewer women) good and bad. Prophets, kindly, diligent doctors, wise women, sneering, jeering ruffians, petty officials, simple lunatics - all are to be found in these pages. Many of these figures come laden with tales, prophetic or otherwise, of broken churches and broken men, of lost wanderers, of lost heroes.

And McCarthy has heroes of his own, of course, both human and otherwise. The latter heroes are the landscapes of Mexico and the southernmost United States - harshly beautiful, uncompromising, demanding - and the animals that dot them: the she-wolf Billy Parham stalks at the opening of the tale, the horse he rides, the horses belonging to their father that Billy and younger brother Boyd seek to recover from across the border.

Lastly there come Boyd and Billy himself. The former young, impatient, is perhaps the more obviously heroic, a figure who becomes easily worked into song a into legend. The latter, loyal to a fault and beyond, dogged, determined to prove something - if not to the world then to himself - is the river that winds through the novel's stone-graven landscape, sometimes meandering, sometimes threatening to peter out but somehow always passing forward to his unknown, uncomprehended destinations.

Great stuff.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!, 13 Aug 2008
By 
Really great book. It's amazing how such spare prose can be so powerful. The absence of artifice makes it really feel as if McCarthy really experienced all the things that he writes about. Tremendous. Must read the next one.

One tiny whinge - my spanish is not good enough to understand all the dialogue that is in Spanish. Couldn't it be translated somehow without ruining the flow?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crossing, 3 Oct 2012
By 
TomCat (Cardiff, Wales.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Crossing: 2/3 (Border Trilogy 2) (Paperback)
Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing isn't so much concerned with the violent and sudden breach of clearly demarcated borders as much as it is with the slow bleed-out and eventual death of innocence, tradition and stability. There's a parallel to be found between Billy's journey from affectionate and naive purity to hardhearted maturity (via, of course, the violent upheaval of cruel experience), and the changes that the American South underwent during the sudden industrialisation of the early Twentieth Century.

It's almost a truism for reviewers to draw a distinction between the literal crossing of borders undertaken by the book's protagonist (America to Mexico), and the subtextual crossing of child- into adulthood; but there's also a third implied narrative, one that concerns itself with national identity, with the U.S as a frontier nation, in a state of perpetual flux. It's telling that McCarthy begins the novel with an assertion that the country "was itself little older than [a] child", and ends with an allowance that "The past is always this argument between counterclaimants. It is history that each man makes alone from what is left. Bits of wreckage. Some bones.". It's these more allegorical boundaries which, much like its predecessor All the Pretty Horses, firmly establish this novel as a uniquely American bildungsroman.

The Crossing tells the story of three journeys made by teenager Billy Parnham from his home in New Mexico down into Mexico proper, all in the late 1930s. The first expedition sees him attempting to lead an injured, pregnant wolf back to her home territory; in the second journey he travels even further south, looking for the horses stolen from his family; and the third crossing sees a hardened yet defeated Billy searching for his missing younger brother, Boyd. The book doesn't quite hark back to the levels of cruelty and darkness that McCarthy displayed in his earlier output (Blood Meridian, Child of God, Outer Dark being the most nihilistically exposed of his opus), but it is nonetheless unremittingly bleak and violent; a definite system shock when compared with the relatively more optimistic tone of its sort-of prequel, the aforementioned All the Pretty Horses. The heartbreaking and insistent sequence of tragic events that punctuate Billy's journeys and which all encapsulate some form of loss (both literal and figurative: his family, his home, his innocence) do run the risk of overwhelming the reader, or even verging on the self-indulgent; but separating the book's more shattering set-pieces are long passages of wilderness writing, which often act as sympathetic fallacy for Billy's situation - dark and tempestuous when he's at his lowest ebb. This not only imbues the book (and Billy's journeys) with an impressive sense of scale and majesty, but further establishes the notion that The Crossing is as much concerned with America as nation and landscape as it is with the struggles of its individual characters.

Stylistically, The Crossing is characteristic McCarthy: long sentences constructed in polysyndetic syntax are very much the grammatical standard, with a striking and only occasionally tedious penchant for meticulous physical descriptions. As with all McCarthy novels, there's also an attendant lack of punctuation: no marks to indicate direct speech, very few apostrophes (even when they're grammatically appropriate) and even fewer commas.

"The winter that Boyd turned fourteen the trees inhabiting the dry river bed were bare from early on and the sky was gray day after day and the trees were pale against it a cold wind had come down from the north with the earth running under bare poles towards a reckoning whose ledgers would be drawn up and dated only long after all due claims had passed, such is this history."

I'm tempted to make some twee comparison between the barren emptiness of the book's landscapes, and the typographical ways this is reflected in the absence of punctuation, but there's really only a very limited extent to which even I could draw-out such a trite association. Ahem. I will, however, remark on the unusual sense of power that McCarthy's prose seems to carry. There's something about his narration that's so heavy and authoritative, as if Cormac McCarthy isn't describing his personal vision of America, or giving us some lyrical interpretation of a subjective point of view; he seems, rather, to be telling things exactly as they are, as if he's carved into stone an absolutely inviolable and sacred record of the world in its making. I'm not sure how he achieves this: maybe it's the sheer length and microscopic focus of his descriptions coupled with his lexicon of earthy, physical words, or maybe the simplicity and directness of his writing contains some biblical and hypnagogic quality that transcends the usual vagaries of fiction writing to imbue upon The Crossing a sense of absolute authority. Either way, the book almost defies its notional identity as a novel to feel, instead, like some kind of definite, objective and truthful record of America. This is exacerbated by the book's unsympathetic treatment of its readership; with almost all of the dialogue rendered in unstranslated Spanish, there's a faithfulness to realism that's given precedence over the needs and concerns of the individual reader.

The Crossing is an extraordinary novel. It's difficult to discuss the finer points of its plot without resorting to massive spoilers, but Billy's compassionate treatment of a trapped wolf that is the book's beginning, and his violent attack against an old dog that is the book's end should give you some indication of the bleak and pain-filled journey contained within the intervening 400 pages, and of the histrionic and deeply moving changes that effect and re-mould the perennially lost protagonist. It would be somewhat amateurish of me to list, verbatim, all of the different `crossings' (metaphoric or otherwise) that dominate the book, but I couldn't help but feel that the most significant journey is the one that none of the characters ever truly accomplish: to cross the vast landscapes between one another, and to stop themselves from ever feeling acutely and profoundly alone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crossing, 23 Mar 2011
The Crossing is the 2nd book in Cormac McCarthy's `Border Trilogy' (`All The Pretty Horses' being the 1st & `Cities Of The Plains' being the 3rd), but you don't need to have read `All The Pretty Horses' to read this as they are 2 completely unrelated stories, except in terms of theme.

Set prior to the Second World War, it's the story of Billy Parham, a boy who traps a wolf on his family's land, then on a whim sets off to return the animal to the mountains of Mexico. He doesn't realise that this journey will change his life forever and upon his return from Mexico he finds events have occurred that mean he can never again be who he once was.

This is a typical Cormac McCarthy book full of beautifully evocative description of the prairie landscape and well written characters, the story does slow down in places, but never enough to detract from the greatness of the book.

I would highly recommend this to anyone, but a word of caution, if you do not have a rudimentary grasp of Spanish I would suggest you keep a dictionary or Google Translate close to hand as there are some passages of dialogue conducted in Spanish.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic but heartbreaking read, 26 April 2008
By 
Cait "Cait" (London, England) - See all my reviews
This book is one that will stick in my mind for years to come. It depicts a life and a landscape that is unremittingly stark and brutal. One critic described it as a novel that leaves the reader feeling "emotionally ransacked" and I could not agree more. It was deeply upsetting and unsettling at times but a must-read book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine work of lietrature., 31 Oct 1999
By A Customer
Cormac McCarthy leaves most contemporary writers of the English language light-years behind him in this majestic novel set in Mexico and the American south. Apart from the cowboys and the Mexicans, the true heroes of this novel are the English language and the limpid poetic vision with which McCarthy presents his harrowing view of the world. Beautiful, awe-inspiring, possessed of a moral framework which is required by all truly great writers, this is one of the great books of the 1990s - read it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars South-Western U.S. language with Spanish words, 17 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Crossing: 2/3 (Border Trilogy 2) (Paperback)
This is a review of "The Crossing", "Picador Edition", by Cormac McCarthy. My book has a picture of a wolf drinking water on the front cover.

I speak/read/understand enough "American-Spanish" (Castellano) to have been able to read this without using a dictionary, but can imagine it being a frustrating experience for anyone without some knowledge of Spanish.

I feel that the editor and/or publisher could help this author appeal to a much wider audience by footnoting words and expressions which are "castellano" with a simple translation.

Some of the passages were wonderfully written; I thought that some of his descriptions of the wolf were better than any other wolf-descriptions I have ever read, including Jack London.

Overall, he's describing people who are a bit too raw for my taste (I must have led a sheltered life) .... but I can readily understand that some readers will be die-hard fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, 23 Aug 2010
By 
Benjamin (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Set just before the Second World War, sixteen year old Billy Parham is living with his parents and younger brother on a ranch in New Mexico. The appearance of a wolf in the area captivates Billy's imagination, and when he eventually traps the animal, on an impulse he decides to take it back into Mexico from whence it came. However when he eventually returns to the family ranch it is not as he left it. He journeys into Mexico twice more, once with his younger brother, and then again at the age or twenty.

The Crossing, the second book in the Border Trilogy, is a gripping, and often moving account of a young boy's adventures and troubles. While filled with minute detail words are never wasted, and McCarthy's only use of punctuation is the full stop, and even that is used with economy. Billy's story is occasionally interspersed with the stories of others, such as that of the ageing blind man.

A lot of the dialogue is in Spanish, and there are no translations, but that does not seem to interfere with or hamper one's understanding. The Crossing is a most absorbing and memorable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, 21 May 2009
By 
R. Elliott "Rellio" (Dursley, Glos. UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a bleak but wonderfully written piece of work that draws you into the trials and travels of Billy Parnham. It is a worthy companion to 'All the Pretty Horses' as part of McCarthy's Border Trilogy. If it has faults they are firstly too much navel gazing philosophy from some of the characters encountered by Parnham, and secondly too much use of Spanish dialogue, a potential source of frustration for non-Spanish speakers.
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The Crossing: 2/3 (Border Trilogy 2)
The Crossing: 2/3 (Border Trilogy 2) by Cormac McCarthy (Paperback - 1 Jan 2010)
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