All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
This book was recommended by a colleague at work as a very “masculine book,” and that is quite accurate. It is the coming of age story of John Grady and his friend Rawlins, two teenage boys from Texas who ride their horses into Mexico in order to escape their family situations, and who find themselves in even stickier ones. The story is gritty and rough, with harsh descriptions of the varying conditions they endured. But there are many very tender moments full of strong emotions.
The writing style is what stands out in this book. McCarthy is king of the run-on sentence, but it works in the context of this story, somehow. It is a rambling, prose, perhaps reminiscent of the ambling of the horses as they carry the characters over mile after mile. And the lengthy descriptions contrast with the minimalist dialogue between the characters. When John Grady speaks, his words are pointed and the reader almost craves his words as keys to unlock what he must be thinking about all that he endures.
The other interesting aspect of this book is the inside view of life in Mexico, of which I have personally not read a lot about. There is a bit of the culture and the history that squeaks through and it gives the story that much more context. Unfortunately, since I never studied Spanish, I found myself frequently frustrated that many lines of dialogue were written in Spanish with no English translation. Thank goodness for Google Translator is all I can say!
I think that while I did like this book and found it meaningful, I think this is the kind of book that would be great to read in a class, where we might analyze the plot further and learn about the symbolism of the characters. I am sure there is more to it than I could even imagine.