I’m about 40 pages into All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and feeling really frustrated with it. Truly, I had no expectations when I started this novel other than the hope that I would enjoy it. It’s my first Cormac McCarthy novel, and I had every intention of following up with the two other books of his Border Trilogy . But so far, just getting through the first 40 pages has been somewhat punishing. Right there on the first few pages, I knew there would probably be trouble between Cormac and I. It just seemed like I was supposed to have already read the book to figure out what the heck he was talking about. And then, what’s with the pronouns?? Can’t he just NAME people instead of starting off every other sentence with a “he” or a “she”? I can never tell who the f$#@ he’s talking about!? (I did say this is a rant). And then the dialogue. How does one figure out who is saying what, I’d like to know? According to Wikipedia, “All the books of the Border Trilogy are written in an unconventional format, omitting traditional Western punctuation, such as quotation marks, and making great use of polysyndetonic syntax” which makes for long, winding, unending sentences. I happen to be a fan of Hemingway’s because he makes life easy for me and keeps it snappy. How am I supposed to remember what (or who) McCarthy is talking about by the end of one of his endless sentences? I’m sure he’s a fantastic storyteller, otherwise his books wouldn’t be as popular as they are, but all those details are so aggravating to me that I can’t just relax into the flow of the writing and let him lead me along. I suppose I should have looked it up on Wikipedia before deciding to read it. It just upsets me so much when a much acclaimed novel fails to captivate me. But I shall give it a chance. Perhaps if I keep at it his writing style will grow on me. I’ve decided to push on to 100 pages, at which point I’ll decide whether I wish to continue or not. 60 more pages. Sounds endless to me. That’s hundreds more sentences for me to try to figure out. I just hate it when a book makes me feel like I don’t know how to read.
Update: After ranting about it and airing my frustration I went on reading and found, to my amazement that I was hardly having difficulty understanding him after all so that by the 100th page I was fully caught up in the story. I’m now well into it at over 200 and some pages, with every intention of finishing it in the next couple of days and very possibly reading the next book in the series relatively soon. Sometimes perseverance pays off. But just for the record: not always.
This post is also featured on the Library Thing “50 Book Challenge” forum.