Thoughts on: All the Pretty Horses (Cormac McCarthy)
Those of you who know me, know that I was struggling to get into this one. I carried it around a lot, but often I would read only 3 or 4 pages every few days because it was driving me crazy. McCarthy kind of has an aversion to using the same punctuation as normal people, but I guess that's his style. I can respect that. Everyone has their own style when they write and I'm sure I manipulate the rules of English in ways that annoy everyone. For example, I use way too many commas. My motto when it comes to grammar is "Commas are a Priviledge, not a Right."
This book really didn't make sense much in the first section. I couldn't work out who was being talked about sometimes; was it John Grady Cole or his father (the places where I wasn't sure, it was usually his Dad), and Lacey Rawlins was a character which I expected to be female. Oops. The fact that there are no quotation marks when people speak is difficult to get used to (but hey it happens in Cloudstreet too) and when Spanish is used, it is not translated. I could guess at some of it, but most of it I just had to pick up the tone. It was that or have a Spanish dictionary with me and even working out each individual word wasn't guaranteed to give me the meaning of each sentence. On the plus side, I think I have learned that Caballo is Spanish for horse.
I'd read reviews of this book on Shelfari, and people were saying things like "if you just get through 50 pages, it gets interesting". Because more than one person said it, I wanted to think it was true. Generally, with reading, there is a 50 page rule anyway; if you don't like something after 50 pages, stop bothering. Being a uni text, that rule alters slightly and becomes if you don't like it after 50 pages, suck it up Princess. So I kept reading, even though page 51 came and went and I still wasn't sucked into the world of the book. I would say I really started to love the story in the middle of section 3. And that's more that 150 pages in. These last two days I have been reading it voraciously. I don't know whether the text got better or my attitude did, but it was nice to be really into a book like that again, even if it was preceded by a big gap in reading caused by the same book.
What I liked about it most was the depth of characterisation. And what he did with tying up the loose ends of the romance. He did what I do, he wrote an anti-romance. I like that. I like non endings. They make me feel more in the world. Escapist literature is good for on planes and in the holidays and stuff but if a book has "One of the greatest American novels of this or any time- Guardian" written on the front of it, I don't want it ending all "and John and Alejandra got married anyway and had lots of really attractive children, and Lacey met someone too, and they got to keep Blevins's horse, plus it turned out he wasn't dead anyway and neither were John's father or grandfather, and the prison thing was part of a reality TV show."
That would really annoy me.
But a lot of things about modern writing do.