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Butcher's Crossing (New York Review Books Classics)

by

Butcher's Crossing (New York Review Books Classics) Cover

ISBN13: 9781590171981
ISBN10: 1590171985
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In his National Book Award-winning novel Augustus, John Williams uncovered the secrets of ancient Rome. With Butcher's Crossing, his fiercely intelligent, beautifully written western, Williams dismantles the myths of modern America.

It is the 1870s, and Will Andrews, fired up by Emerson to seek “an original relation to nature,” drops out of Harvard and heads west. He washes up in Butcher's Crossing, a small Kansas town on the outskirts of nowhere. Butcher's Crossing is full of restless men looking for ways to make money and ways to waste it. Before long Andrews strikes up a friendship with one of them, a man who regales Andrews with tales of immense herds of buffalo, ready for the taking, hidden away in a beautiful valley deep in the Colorado Rockies. He convinces Andrews to join in an expedition to track the animals down. The journey out is grueling, but at the end is a place of paradisal richness. Once there, however, the three men abandon themselves to an orgy of slaughter, so caught up in killing buffalo that they lose all sense of time. Winter soon overtakes them: they are snowed in. Next spring, half-insane with cabin fever, cold, and hunger, they stagger back to Butcher's Crossing to find a world as irremediably changed as they have been.

Review:

"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 New York

Review:

"Harsh and relentless yet muted in tone, Butcher's Crossing paved the way for Cormac McCarthy. It was perhaps the first and best revisionist western." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"One of the finest novels of the West ever to come out of the West." The Denver Post

Review:

"This story about the hunt of one of the last great buffalo herds "becomes a young man's search for the integrity of his own being....The characters are defined, the events lively, the place, the smells, the sounds right. And the prose is superb, a rarity in writing about the west. More, John Williams." The Chicago Tribune

Review:

"John Williams's unsparing novels express a highly qualified though resilient optimism about our ability to salvage something of value from life's impossible conditions. Along with the necessary isolation of the artist, he conveys the sobering if startled recognition — perhaps with his own career in mind — of the transitory triumph of art." Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

John Williams (1922-1994) was born in Texas. He taught for many years at the University of Denver, where he was head of the creative writing program. Williams won the 1973 National Book Award in fiction for Augustus. His novel Stoner is also published as an NYRB Classic.

Michelle Latiolais is an associate professor of English at the UC Irvine. Her novel, Even Now, won a Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California. She has recently published fiction and essays in The Antioch Review, Santa Monica Review, and ZYZZYVA.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

lukas, October 7, 2014 (view all comments by lukas)
I went from never having heard of John Williams (not to be confused with the composer) to thinking of him as one of the great neglected American novelists of the second half of the 20th century, even though he only wrote four books, the first of which he disavowed. Despite his small output, these books are incredibly different from one another. "Stoner" (1965) is a deliberately paced, Jamesian novel about an English professor, "Augustus" (1972) is a historical novel about the Roman emperor (and winner of the National Book Award), while "Butcher's Crossing" (1960) is a bleak western that predates similar work by Cormac McCarthy by decades. Despite being a quintessential American genre, we have very few truly great Western novels. There is a lot of pulp, a few classics ("Little Big Man," "True Grit") and not much in between. "Butcher's Crossing" centers around a buffalo hunt, which is more a buffalo slaughter and it's this that Williams finds a symbol for the violence, darkness, and greed of the West. Those who like their westerns bathed in myth and romance will no enjoy this, but those who appreciate ambiguity and irony will find this a very interesting and satisfying take on the genre. "You're crazy. What are you trying to do? You can't kill every god damned buffalo in the whole god damned country."
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h, August 12, 2012 (view all comments by h)
Williams published only 3 novels during his years writing and teaching writing at the University of Denver. Each novel is on a completely different topic; it's the prose that makes you wanting more. An idealist Easterner heads to the Kansas frontier following the insights of Emerson. He ends up in an ill-fated buffalo hunt that will test his ideas about the West.
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cookie e, January 27, 2012 (view all comments by cookie e)
Parts of this book brought me to my knees. I am not typically a reader of "westerns" per se, but like all great books, this book is so much more. Certain passages will haunt me for a long time.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781590171981
Author:
Williams, John
Publisher:
New York Review of Books
Introduction:
Latiolais, Michelle
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
New York Review Books Classics
Publication Date:
20070131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
296
Dimensions:
7.98x5.10x.64 in. .64 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Butcher's Crossing (New York Review Books Classics) New Trade Paper
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$14.95 In Stock
Product details 296 pages New York Review of Books - English 9781590171981 Reviews:
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Harsh and relentless yet muted in tone, Butcher's Crossing paved the way for Cormac McCarthy. It was perhaps the first and best revisionist western."
"Review" by , "One of the finest novels of the West ever to come out of the West."
"Review" by , "This story about the hunt of one of the last great buffalo herds "becomes a young man's search for the integrity of his own being....The characters are defined, the events lively, the place, the smells, the sounds right. And the prose is superb, a rarity in writing about the west. More, John Williams."
"Review" by , "John Williams's unsparing novels express a highly qualified though resilient optimism about our ability to salvage something of value from life's impossible conditions. Along with the necessary isolation of the artist, he conveys the sobering if startled recognition — perhaps with his own career in mind — of the transitory triumph of art."
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