All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses

Book - 1992
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Now a major motion picture from Columbia Pictures starring Matt Damon, produced by Mike Nichols, and directed by Billy Bob Thornton.

The national bestseller and the first volume in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy , All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself.  With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.  Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, c1992.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780394574745
Characteristics: 301 p.


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RogerDeBlanck May 02, 2018

All the Pretty Horses is the first novel in McCarthy’s remarkable The Border Trilogy. It chronicles the plight of sixteen-year-old John Grady Cole. He is a young man with an extraordinary love for the land and an equally unique devotion for the rearing of horses. When his grandfather dies and his parents separate, his mother plans to sell the ranch John grew up on in southern Texas. To escape the turmoil in his life, John sets out on horseback with his friend to explore the desert wilderness beyond the border in Mexico. John Grady’s quest for solace becomes a trial of survival and a search for decency in the face of madness. In examining the cruelty of the human condition, McCarthy locates through John Grady a redemptive quality that resonates with the harshest of lessons for the young man. No one creates mood and atmosphere in quite the same vivid and breathtaking fashion as does McCarthy. The beauty and precision of his prose wields a biblical-like power as he captures the merciless borderland and the depths of one’s fortitude and resilience. All the Pretty Horses is a masterpiece of contemporary American literature.

Oct 23, 2017

This is a good but sad book. A good beginning for those who like westerns.

Sep 25, 2017

Every time I read Cormac McCarthy I am reminded of what I love about reading. The incredible impact that a few simple well crafted words can create.

Aug 05, 2017

Spoilers Ahead ⚠️. All The Pretty Horses is an “American Western" turned up-side-down. The hero, teenager John Grady Cole, is a superb horseman and cowboy. He meets a girl, loses her, but never gets her back.

The anti-western quality is foretold by a beautiful metaphor in the very first line of the novel. A candle flame (and its reflection) in a pier glass, twists and then rights itself, when Cole enters his family’s ranch house on a cold night. He is there to view the body of his grandfather, who ran the family cattle ranch in western Texas.

The story takes place in the late 1940s – after World War II. The ranch is up for sale. Cole’s mother, who inherits the ranch, has taken up acting – a peculiarly non-Western career choice. Despite Cole’s pleas, she insists her son (and only child) is too young to run the ranch. Cole’s father, emasculated by the War and by his wife, is unable to run the ranch himself, or even intercede on his son’s behalf.
Disillusioned, Cole takes to the road on horseback.

Not to the American West. It has vanished. But, south to Mexico, a terribly beautiful land where he encounters lawlessness, official corruption (that would make a Philadelphia policeman blush) and many very bad people.
He is joined by his best friend, reluctantly; and by a companion they meet along the way who provides some comic relief.

But, that is ephemeral; and, apart from a brief and forbidden love affair with the aforementioned girl on her father’s cattle ranch – an Eden-like place deep in the heart of Mexico – all sorts of bad things happen to the adventurers.
Things so bad that they bend, but do not break, Cole’s idealism and adherence to the cowboy code. The code, a remnant from the old American West, values thoughtfulness over verbosity, modesty over boasting, concise wisdom over elaborate argument and repression of emotion over expression of fear. Think- Clint Eastwood or Hemingway’s alter ego, Nick Adams. Sadly, this ethic is now rare among men.

There is a sunset in the final scene. While the hero rides off into it, he does so without any sense of well being, accomplishment or resolution.

Jul 18, 2017

After the first few pages I thought I knew what I was getting into and would hate this book and lay it down halfway and return it to the library where it would wait for another individual to pick it up. I forced myself to continue reading; it was difficult to get uses to the lack of commas, quotation marks, and semi-colons. But after awhile, the author's writing style began to grow on me.
This was an excellent story with thought-provoking descriptions of the world we live in. There's humor in between the pages and a beautiful love story that I think many have experienced. Being born in Él Paso and raised in New Mexico, it wasn't difficult to imagine the landscape and I will filled with nostalgia even though I've hardly ridden a horse.

Apr 22, 2017

A beautiful and violent story which is hampered at times by McCarthy's signature style. Despite the unusual syntax and punctuation, which at time sacrifices quality at the altar of art, this is a masterpiece.

Apr 17, 2015

An insult to America, the western, land, Mexico, burritos, televangelists, cowboys, horses, and words. Can't believe this is assigned reading in some places.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 27, 2014

A century from now, McCarthy will stand with the likes of Melville, Twain and Faulkner. Wake up to the best-kept secret of American fiction in the past thirty years! The gripping prose echoes early Hemingway, and the lean, swift (by his standards) pastoral tale recalls an American Southwest, lyrically and magically evoked, in the twilight of its wilderness. Written in a sweeping, picaresque form, in a language of a beauty and power seldom seen, it has rollicking physical action, horses, gunplay and romance, yet ultimately it is a never sentimental lament for a passing way of life. Don't miss his dark and savage dress rehearsal, Blood Meridian.

Sep 25, 2014

Wonderful prose encapsulates an excellent story about maintaining a way of life in an age of rapid industrialization. Well worth reading.

kellnerm Aug 04, 2014

from "A Novel Bookstore"

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Laura_X Feb 22, 2019

I despise the wintertime. I never did see what was the use in there even bein one.

debwalker Oct 08, 2010

All his reverence and all his fondness and all the leanings of his life were for the ardenthearted and they would always be so and never be otherwise.


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