Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Crossing - post I

It has taken a couple of days to pick this up and although there is the same issue about quote marks and trying to work out as a result sometimes who is talking the story is set in much more of a fixed frame than All the Pretty Horses. The two brothers Boyd and Billy Parham are also teenagers but they live on a farm with their mother and father and there is a sense that the growing up will be more gradual.

The first fifty pages or so introduce the brothers, the father and the land. The last of these is the most important feature of the narrative. The boys are keen toe explore and test the boundaries and things start with them meeting an Indian who demands food from them and then menaces them to try to get money. They leave him but you sense he will reappear – Blevins style – and upset things later on.

But the main focus is the effort that Billy makes in particular, along with his father and brother, to track and catch a she wolf that is slaying cattle in the hills near the farm. Billy does a great deal of tracking and trap setting on his own after having been shown by his father how to set one. The quest for the wolf becomes almost spiritual – a test of manhood –and even he admits to his brother that if he were to find the wolf he would not know what to do.

Again with McCarthy the landscape is all important and the book dust jacket blurb places this pre second world war so the horses and the farming life play an important role. Mind you it was interesting to see that when the TV footage showed the evacuees leaving behind the blazing hillsides in Southern California many took their horses with them. The spirit that McCarthy and John Steinbeck wrote about is still alive.

More tomorrow…

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