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Border Trilogy #03: Cities of the Plainby Cormac Mccarthy
Synopses & Reviews
In this final volume of "The Border Trilogy," two men marked by the boyhood adventures of All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing now stand together, in the still point between their vivid pasts and uncertain futures, to confront a country changing or already changed beyond recognition.
In the fall of 1952, John Grady Cole and Billy Parham — nine years apart in age, yet with a kinship greater than perhaps they know — are cowboys on a New Mexico ranch encroached upon from the north, at Alamogordo, by the military. To the south, always on the horizon are the mountains of Mexico, looming over El Paso, Ciudad Juárez and all the cities of the plain.
Bound by nature to horses and cattle and range, these two discover that ranchlife domesticity is compromised, for them and the men they work with, by a geometry of loss afflicting old and young alike, those who have survived it and anyone about to try. And what draws one of them across the border again and again, what would bind "those disparate but fragile worlds," is a girl seized by ill fortune, and a love as dangerous as it is inevitable.
This story of friendship and passion is enfolded in a narrative replete with character and place and event — a blind musician, a marauding pack of dogs, curio shops and ancient petroglyphs, a precocious shoe-shine boy, trail drives from the century before, midnight on the highway — and with landforms and wildlife and horses and men, most of all men and the women they love and mourn, men and their persistence and memories and dreams.
With the terrible beauty of Cities of the Plain — with its magisterial prose, humor both wry and out-right, fierce conviction and unwavering humanity — Cormac McCarthy has completed a landmark of our literature and times, an epic that reaches from tales of the old west, the world past, into the new millennium, the world to come.
"An American classic to stand with the finest literary achievements of the century." San Francisco Chronicle
"Grave and majestic....McCarthy has created an imaginative oeuvre greater and deeper than any single book. Such writers wrestle with the gods themselves." Washington Post Book World
"Showcases Mr. McCarthy's gifts as an old-fashioned storyteller....His most readable, emotionally engaging novel yet." The New York Times
In this magnificent new novel, the National Book Award-winning author of All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing fashions a darkly beautiful elegy for the American frontier.
The setting is New Mexico in 1952, where John Grady Cole and Billy Parham are working as ranch hands. To the North lie the proving grounds of Alamogordo; to the South, the twin cities of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. Their life is made up of trail drives and horse auctions and stories told by campfire light. It is a life that is about to change forever, and John Grady and Billy both know it.
The catalyst for that change appears in the form of a beautiful, ill-starred Mexican prostitute. When John Grady falls in love, Billy agrees--against his better judgment--to help him rescue the girl from her suavely brutal pimp. The ensuing events resonate with the violence and inevitability of classic tragedy. Hauntingly beautiful, filled with sorrow, humor and awe, Cities of the Plain is a genuine American epic.
About the Author
Cormac McCarthy received the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award for All the Pretty Horses.
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