Monday, 9 November 2015

All the Pretty Horses

(November 2015)

The obvious thing to do here would be to pastiche McCarthy's style, but other people have done it more convincingly and more amusingly, so rather than just strip out all the punctuation and occasionally write very long sentences I'll actually try to talk about the book. Or at least my reactions to it.

The book is very good. Perhaps unsurprisingly. What does always surprises me slightly about McCarthy is just how easy he is to read, however. For the first page or so the lack of typographical cues is really disconcerting, but once that's passed it flows effortlessly. All the Pretty Horses is enough of a standard that I'm not going to belabor the finer details here, but (and I think I've mentioned this before) something that struck me as I was reading this was how much more receptive I've got to 'literary' humour as I've got older.

I'm not sure that's the right phrase, but what I mean is that when I was younger I used to treat books like this as a challenge, something to pat myself on the back for when I'd got through them. Notches on the bookshelf, or whatever. I'd be lying if I said I'm totally free of that attitude now (to wit: this entire blog), but somewhere along the line I started getting away from that towards actually wanting to enjoy stuff for its own sake. The lack of time is a factor, I guess, as there's no point slogging though stuff that isn't working, but I also think I'm just more of a grown up.

Anyway, the upshot is that I'm less po-faced about things. I think. It's all very well treating books with reverence, but that can blind you to the more profane aspects which are an equally important part of the experience. Which is all a long-winded way of saying that this book is, in places, very funny. Bleak, droll, deadpan to the point of immobility funny, but funny nonetheless. And grand and sweeping and beautiful, but it'll be the actually laugh-out-loud moments that stick in the mind in the future.

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