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.
The Wall Street Journal - Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg
There is much good writing in ...Cities of the Plain, but its twisted narrative and mystical bent may make it hard going for some readers.... Mr. McCarthy has a painter's eye for detail, and when he describes moments where men and nature meet, the scenes are riveting.... Because he pays such attention to detail, many moments remain convincing long after the book is finished.
Devoted McCarthy readers will know not to expect any neat or dramatic resolution in Cities of the Plain, for the author is more of a poet than a novelist, more interested in wedding language to experience in successive moments than in building and setting afloat some narrative ark.....There is not much solace in McCarthy-land; there is only the triumph of prose, endlessly renewed, forever in search of a closure it will not find save in silence.
Once again, McCarthy offers an unflinching depiction of the hard lives and complex fates of men ripped loose from the moorings of home and family, pursuing destinies that seem imposed upon them by indifferent external forces..... Judged, as it must be, in the context of its brother novels, Cities of the Plain is nonetheless, flaws and all, an essential component of a contemporary masterpiece.
McCarthy's prose is mesmerizing, and his descriptions of the Southwest and the vanishing cowboy lifestyle are superb. This work is a strong and satisfying conclusion to a magisterial series, but it is probably advisable to read this installment in its proper sequence. Libraries will want all three volumes, which make up one of the great literary works of the decade.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Suzanne G. #3 Here is the third in the Border Trilogy, but the second is not available to review. The Crossing (#2) is rated 4 by me.
The book is as melancholy as the other two. Emotional and violent, Cities of the Plain was one I couldn’t put down. But there... Read More
Rated of 5
by Evelyn Juarez
It's a really good book. Really interesting to read and to do a project on it. A right book for historical events.
Rated of 5
Cormac McCarthy is an amazing writer. I loved every moment of the boder trilogy. With the exception of the violence in the novels. John Grady Cole and Billy are the most real characters I have ever come across in writing.
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