is second in Cormac McCarthy's The Border Trilogy
and follows a story seemingly unrelated to All the Pretty Horses,
the previous volume in the trilogy. This one covers the story of sixteen-year-old Billy Parham as he undertakes several ill-starred journeys across the U.S.-Mexico border, each a fruitless venture bringing little but grief. As he journeys he finds himself at odds with his own fate and a new world in which he has no place.
Heartbreakingly evocative and apocalyptic in vision, The Crossing
tells a story of the American West in a manner that only McCarthy can tell. The stoic narrative beautifully conveys the skeletal Mexican landscape with a music that belies the starkness of his prose. Billy's journeys back and forth between Mexico and the United States are more than just border crossings. With each crossing Billy takes a journey into a virtual netherworld. This is a Mexico that bears the scars of a bloodied history, lawless and wild yet still held prisoner by fate or destiny or God or whatever heedless caretaker one chooses to believe in. This can be said of many of McCarthy's novels (at least the one's I have read) and to read one is to enter a timeless otherplace, as if to say time alone is insufficient to accommodate the truths of man.
More than a coming of age story, The Crossing
is a terrible reckoning and one told with fearsome beauty. I get the impression that people a) love McCarthy's writing, b) hate McCarthy's writing or c) don't see the point or are underwhelmed, so I get it when his writing is not to someone's tastes. But for me, he hits right on. I'll need to let this one settle in a bit before the next and final in the trilogy, Cities of the Plain
Until then, please to enjoy one of my favorite passages, as Billy consoles the pregnant shewolf whom he has taken guardianship:
He talked to her a long time and as the boy tending the wolf could not understand what it was he said he said what was in his heart. That he would take her to the mountains where she would find others of her kind. She watched him with her yellow eyes and in them was no despair but only that same reckonless deep of loneliness that cored the world to its heart.The Crossing
is a thing of beauty and may be the best, most profound and most human of McCarthy's novels that I have yet read.