“Because the question
for me was always whether that shape we see in our lives was there from the
beginning or whether these random events are only called a pattern after the
fact. Because otherwise we are nothing.”
A coming-of-age story set in a vanished world, with every
new read All The Pretty Horses
seduces me all over again. It rewards any reader who bears with the confusing
initial thirty pages and eventually orientates themselves, riding alongside
John Grady Cole and Lacey Rawlins as they set out on horseback, travelling from
their hometown in Texas over the border into Mexico. McCarthy’s powers of
description, long, achingly evocative sentences and effortlessly realistic
dialogue draw you into an open landscape of possibility and adventure as you
ride with them into the sunset. Or not quite – neither the illicit romance
between John and Alejandra, his boss’s daughter, or the overall story, end particularly
"my own travels will never quench the nostalgia that the long-gone world of McCarthy’s Mexico inspires"
I love that this is a story about male loss of innocence, a
love story told from sixteen-year-old John’s point of view. It is romanticism
at its finest, and along with Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, one of my biggest literary inspirations to start
travelling. Sadly, my own travels will never quench the nostalgia that the
long-gone world of McCarthy’s Mexico inspires. As the book explores loss of the
past, its imagery and landscapes are so vivid that the otherworldly setting
almost becomes your own. Almost, but not quiet; dangled in front of you, or
rather behind, never to exist again.
In its protagonist, this book also manages to achieve a
perfect balance between relatability and exoticism. The admiration I felt for
John as a teenager is now also accompanied by sympathy as I read the book as an
adult, commiserating in his loss and heartache.
All The Pretty Horses is
a beautiful book. Everybody should read it, if only to suspend reality for a
moment of unashamed escapism.
The reviewer, Sally Ashton, is an avid
traveller, living and working abroad for more than ten years. This is
something which has helped enormously in both the development of writing and
novel, Controller, was
published in 2014 and her translation of LS6 Mario Crespo’s Spanish novel about
Leeds in 2016. Both are published by Liverpool based press Dead Ink Books.
translates into English from Spanish, French and German. She accepts
general linguistic work and has comprehensive experience translating websites,
copy and communication materials. She is experienced in International
Development, Hospitality/Travel, Sports, Animal/Equine, Retail
Creative and Academic.
In her spare time Sally likes to play sports,
read and drink coffee.