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116 'WesternAmerican Literature the writers including seven Texas women, three Mexican Americans, and one African American. There is stylistic diversity, ranging from realistic narration of physical terror to outlandish and thoughtful humor: from relatively new writer Sunny Nash’s powerfully brutal examination of incest, to seasoned author Jan Seale’s Flannery O’Connor-like depiction of a menacing voyeur neighbor; from Terry Pringle’s hilarious fantasy of two macho Texans denied their foolish dream, to Terence Dalrymple’s poignant, well-crafted story of a divorcee’s seeking—and finding through bathroom graffiti—a miraculous relationship, to Sallie Strange’s effective evocation of a couple in Electra, Texas, half successful in performing a home vasectomy, to Carolyn Osborn’s serious humor in her artful story of Hispanic/Anglo cultural differences. Copyediting errors (twenty-one in spelling, capitalization, punctuation— four on page 123 alone) mar an otherwise laudable anthology, yet three excellent stories—Rick Bass’s “Susan”with itsJohn Graves’s Goodbye to a River­ like sense of place, Robert Flynn’s superb “Living with the Hyenas,”and Clay Reynolds’s “Etta’s Pond”with protagonist Walker P. Sloan clearly in the tradi­ tion of Elmer Kelton’s admirably independent Charlie Flagg in The Time It NeverRained—all illustrate well the truth ofWilliam Owens’sobservation: “The only reason for regionalism is to make it an opening onto the universal.”They do. BOBJ. FRYE Texas Christian University The Crossing. The Border Trilogy, Volume 2. By Cormac McCarthy. (New York: Knopf, 1994. 426 pages, $23.00.) Since moving himself and the settings for his strange and wonderful novels from the Tennessee region to the borderlands of the southwestern United States, Cormac McCarthy has immersed himself in simultaneously using and revising the western myth. BloodMeridian (1985) saturates the reader in the violence of a cosmically fantastic and frighteningly realistic West awash in racial and cultural conflict. All the Pretty Horses (1992), the first volume of McCarthy’sBorderTrilogy, followsyoungJohn GradyCole through a picaresque but apparently unresolved quest ultimately initiating him into full communion with life on a plane both elemental and spiritual, finishing the harsh matura­ tion he needs to fully enter the adult world. The Crossingin many ways echoes Horses. Set (somewhat curiously) earlier in the twentieth century than the first Border Trilogy book, it traces the adven­ tures of a New Mexico youth, Billy Parham, who likeJohn Grady Cole under­ takes and (on the surface at least) fails at several quests. Indeed, as several earlier reviewers have argued, the most engrossing part of the novel is its first, novella-like 127 pages, in which Billy figures out how to capture—then unsuc­ Reviews 117 cessfully seeks to return—a rare she-wolf to her home in the Mexican moun­ tains. Also likeJohn Grady Cole, Billy and his “lost”brother Boyd are sympa­ thetic characters, likable youths holding to a strong moral code (essentially a western one). Billy crosses into the “other”world of Mexico twice more, once accompanying Boyd back in search of their parents’murderers, later in search of his vanished brother, whose bones he returns “home” to bury. All three crossings merge into one cross-like experience initiating Billy into a world of suffering. But it is also aworld from which echoes of a common grace resound: as the book ends, the narratorwrites that “after awhile the right and godmade sun did rise, once again, for all and without distinction.”As for John Grady Cole, so for Billy Parham: there is “the world to come,”the phrase from the Nicene Creed that ends Horses and refrains several times during this novel, tempting the reader to believe Cole and Parham may cross paths in the trilogy’s final volume. Typical of McCarthy’s work, the entire book is richly layered, intricately textured—and absorbing. Filled with numerous examples of both human kindness (an almost completely unnoticed but very common presence in his writings) and human brutality, it also blazes trails into philosophical, meta­ physical, and theological wildernesses by redrawing, refining, and importing concerns akin to those of McCarthy’s own favorite writer, Herman Melville. In the process, McCarthy brings it all back home to the West where he now lives. His ever-varied...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 116-117
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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