26 September, 2012

If there's one book you must read... Week #25

Book #25 -- All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

This week's book, much like last week's, is chosen by a celeb book lover, Marcus Mumford off of Mumford & Sons.

Marcus has his own 'book club' section on the band's website & I thought it would be interesting to have a look at the books he's read & shared his thoughts on. Clearly the man loves American literature but I thought Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses would be a good one to pick as he's perhaps a little more well known compared to Marcus's other choices (other books by McCarthy: The Road (2006) & No Country for Old Men (2005)).

So, what does Marcus say about All the Pretty Horses?

'After John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy is my favourite American writer. McCarthy’s best known novels are thrillers, (he wrote No Country For Old Men) but his scope as a writer far outstretches what you might imagine for an author of that genre. No doubt he knows how to tell a good story, but he tackles more profound concepts along the way. In All The Pretty Horses he transforms what is, essentially, the narrative of a Texan cowboy’s gap year, into a thrilling life-or-death love story which confronts the essence of becoming a man in a quickly changing world. We’re taken on a journey where innocence is lost, but what is found is far more valuable (and far more interesting): one man’s relationship with the natural world, from his horse to his home, his forbidden love to his foreboding adulthood.
To be honest it’s not the best book to read when all you want to do is run off to a farm and learn to keep cattle. Or spent your life growing up in Suburban London playing Cowboys and Indians. The day I finished this book I went to Waterstones and bought the Eyewitness Guide to Horse Riding. McCarthy’s description of Southern Texas and Northern Mexico is so appealing as to suck you from your surroundings. The passage describing how John Grady and Rawlins have to break in sixteen horses in four days is written with the same exhilirating determination that it takes for the characters to finish their work. You feel like a real man just reading this stuff. 
But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a book just for horse-lovers, or agricultural enthusiasts. I think McCarthy appeals to anyone who loves a good story well told; he has a knack for writing with such understated beauty and compulsion that justifies his worldwide populatiry and acclaim.
At times McCarthy’s tone and story telling is so direct that it seems callous, but then he’ll offer the reader a moment of intense emotion that we are grateful for his uncompromising style. He cuts straight to the real stuff when he has to, and he doesn’t waste words doing it.
So I bloody loved it. And I hope some of you can too.'

Amazon blurb: 'A critical triumph, this is the story of John Grady Cole, who at 16 finds himself at the dying end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. To escape a society moving in all the wrong directions, Cole and two fellow travellers set out for Mexico, a land at once beautiful and desolate, rugged and cruelly civilised.
But what begins as an idyllic, sometimes comic adventure, leads, in fact, to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Within months, one of the boys is dead, and the other two aged beyond their years.
A story about childhood passing, innocence and an American age, here is a grand story and an education in responsibility, revenge and survival.'

Have you read anything by Cormac McCarthy? I started reading The Road (and will finish it for next month's book club!) I found it really different & at times quite challenging as there aren't actually many words on the page. However, I did enjoy what I read & it may be a suggested 'must read' in a few weeks, I'll let you know.

If you have a 'must read' book that you think everyone should read, any genre, any subject matter, any publication date, let me know either in the comments below or on twitter :)

Happy reading!


Buy All the Pretty Horses from Amazon.


  1. Ooh love the review! Definitely going to check it out. I'm currently reading The Great Gatsby - never get sick of it!

    Lela - http://www.lelalondon.com - Editor and Stylist

    1. I recently bought a copy of Gatsby as I've never read it but I haven't got round to reading it yet. My housemate last year absolutely loved Gatsby & Fitzgerald.

      Let me know if you read All the Pretty Horses, I'd be interested to hear what you think about it :)

      Charlee X

  2. Nice blog you have...wanna follow each other?
    please follow with GFC, just leave me a comment and I'll follow u back!


Thank you very much for taking the time to comment. I read every single one & always make time to reply :)

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