#CBR7 Review #72: Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy

Now that school is over, and I’ve got a project wrapped up for the next few weeks, I have some free time in front of me. So I’ve been reading like a madwoman. Of course, I’m now behind several reviews, so I’ll hope to play catch-up today and tomorrow. Now that graduation is over, I’ll have some downtime to do that!

Cities of the Plain is the last in the Border Trilogy. Cormac McCarthy unites John Cole Grady from All the Pretty Horses and Billy Parham from The Crossing into this last glimpse at a world that is disappearing. Both young men are working as hands on a ranch with an owner who treats them fairly and respects their talents. Of course, because this a McCarthy novel, this sense of contentment will never last. John Cole falls in love with a 16-year-old Mexican prostitute and determines to wrench her free of her enslavement to the brothel and to her pimp. He decides that getting married at 19 is a great idea and will make both of them very happy. The much more skeptical Billy wonders if marriage is really the most practical idea for two very poor young adults. The ensuing conflict turns the series on its head, and the denouement will leave you with the appropriate sense of melancholy that should always accompany a McCarthy novel. But I will not say how and why that melancholy occurs.

I would definitely call myself a McCarthy masochist. I can’t help it. He sucks you in with the spare power of your writing, and then, after something really bad has happened, you just sort of wilt in a puddle of sadness. And then read another McCarthy novel.


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