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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, haunting style, floating spirit-like between solid, crisp diction and elegant, poetic flight, shows the reader a Southwest and its people at once familiar and strange. Simultaneously romantic and anti-romantic, the hearts of McCarthy’s writing and the West pulse with the mysteries of existence—its suffering, its delights, its vagaries, and much more. Though not his best book, The Crossing remains an impressive accomplishment, a major work among literature of the American West, a work riding tall in the saddle among any literature. DAVID N. CREMEAN Bowling Green State University Streets ofLaredo. By Larry McMurtry. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. 589 pages, $25.00.) In Streets ofLaredo, McMurtry is still trying to reconcile his longing for the past with an unknown future. Aging Call of the old order teams up again with Pea Eye to take a last stand for civilization. But, ironically, Call falls victim, and it is Pea Eye, now a family man and farmer, who ends up the hero, suggesting the inviolability of change. McMurtry’s men struggle with the new order, but his women welcome it. Lorena, the strongest character of the novel, declares, “I’m not a whore now. 118 Western American Literature ... I didn’t stay what I was.” She acts as a bridge between the past and the future. Her voice as the voice of the future succeeds in drowning out voices of the past, but it does not proclaim hope. As a modern man, McMurtry’suncertainties can be seen in the dude from Boston. Sent to hire Call to stop the railway crimes, “Brookshire doubted that he could find the will to keep himself going across the empty country, toward the dim horizon. . . . He would just stop and sit down and wait to be dead.” Eventually he doesjust that. No wonder. The violence in the novel is extraordinary: children are burned alive at the stake, an old woman is trampled by a gang on horseback, a distraught young bride, well into her pregnancy, is raped by a sheriff and eats ratpoison to die an agonizing death. Ifthis is how McMurtrysees the Old West, it’s difficult to imagine that he’s longing for its return. And yet that’s the message we get. The three sections of the novel contain events that may or may not relate. There’s no reason why the novel should not have its thirty-one chapters integrated entirely into the body of the novel. Even the integrity of other narrative is questionable; at the end of the second section of the novel, we are told that “Call picked out a strong mare for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 117-118
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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