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Sea h-IN Horse Inn Kitellciicttcs — Cable TV Ileatc\(1 Pool Pei itag” Pets Welcome Pr le 1423 1 1 th Street 4’6 0 Port Aransas, TX 78373 ‘$ S call fin lecscruit ions ojar WO Ir %NOM. at 1 i I IIA IF 17.00110111Ii;11 Spl’illg ZH! Sl1111111C1 R,Ic, 4 beside the Grillo/ ./1/c.kicp ititts/a/t,f.; Is /cute/ A\\ ailahle for Phi\\ ate partic Unique t..ttrppean Chorm Atmosphere attuned to the spiritual continuum between Homo sapiens and kindred beasts. One of the Parham horses is named Bird, another Nitio, as if to emphasize how whimsical are borders between species. McCarthy’s famously recondite vocabulary is the native dialect of nature, forcing the reader to share the author’s affinity with non-human sensibilities. It is a lexicon rich in nouns, the lore of things that lure us out of ourselves, into crossings more dramatic than merely stepping beyond the Rio Grande. The Crossing is fraught with precise terms for vegetationacacia, paloverde, ocotilloas well as the language of equine gearhackamore, latigo, mochilathat is the casual speech of men who know their way around and on a horse. It is a brutal universe of nomadic males desperate to cross receding borders into the feminine. A laconic 14-year-old muchacha attaches herself to the Parham brothers but vanishes before Billy can learn anything more about her than about the carnival prima donna whose pendulous breasts he glimpses as she bathes herself in a secluded river. The Crossing recounts a journey and a quest, and it is filled with stories-within-stories, the tales that strangers share with Billy along the way. Most of these are patently applicable to the larger plot. When, early in the proceedings, Billy solicits advice about tracking wolves, a woman warns him that the sly old man he sought has been abandoned by God. “It could happen to you,” she cautions, in a sentence that is portentous of much to come. Other dispensers of wisdom, like the hermit who tells Billy that. “every act soon eluded the grasp of its propagator to be swept away in a clamorous tide of unforeseen consequence,” are downright sententious. The clamorous tide of unforeseen consequence that becomes the plot of The Crossing makes a mockery of human wisdom and agency. If, as a ganadero, a cattle dealer, later declares, “You do not know what things you set in motion,” then McCarthy has deconstructed the traditional novel of individual enterprise and responsibility into a record of futility and failure. McCarthy is a mesmerizing storyteller, and, beyond the ancient tales of departure and defeat retailed by The Crossing, a singular voice reverberates. It is compounded of several styles. There is, first, the terse, unpolished vernacular of a boy whose school has been the open range. “I ain’t takin’ her to give to nobody,” explains Billy when an incredulous rancher asks the boy what he thinks he is doing with a captured wolf. “I’ m just takin’ her down there and turnin’ her loose. It’s where she come from.” Though Billy routinely drops his g’s, he does not neglect to tip his hat to strangers or address his elders as “sir” or “mam.”[sic] His Spanish speech is equally fluent though more standard. When he tells a girl, No sabes nada de mi hermano, it sounds more proper than the form in which he probably would have rendered it in English: “You don’t know nothin about my brother.” “Every word we speak is a vanity,” a garrulous renegade priest tells Billy, who needs no lecture on the treachery of utterance. However, where Billy’s speech is raw and curt yet often courtly, the narrator’s style is effusive and elegant. He is fond of sinuous sentences that meander across the page like vagabonds in the Mexican wilderness. And he seasons his saddlehom saga with an occasional inkhorn term: A misshapen mutt appears “as if some awful composite of grief had broke through from the preterite world,” and “the enmity of the world” becomes “cold and inameliorate…to all those who have no longer cause except themselves to stand against it.” Amid the horrors of this world, there is at least delight in the cadences of well-turned phrases. After Mexican ruffians seize the wolf and torment her in a sadistic spectacle, Billy and his horse retreat into the wilderness. With a breathless thread of clauses, McCarthy’s lyrical prose pursues: They rode the high country for weeks and they grew thin and gaunted man and horse and the horse grazed on the sparse winter grass in the mountains and gnawed the lichens from the rock and the boy shot trout with his arrows where they stood above their shadows on the cold stone floors of the pools and he ate them ate green nopal and then on a windy day traversing a high saddle in the mountains a hawk passed before the sun and its shadow ran so quick in the grass before them that it caused the horse to shy and the boy looked up where the bird turned high above them and he took the bow from his shoulder and nocked and loosed an arrow and watched it rise with the wind rattling the fletching slotted into the cane and watched it turning and arcing and the hawk wheeling and then flaring suddenly with the arrow locked in its pale breast. The fluidity of syllable succeeding syllable succeeding syllable does not always embody such exuberance. But, throughout the book, it presents a world in flux, into which rider and reader alike are thrown without the controlling comforts of punctuation. Sometimes McCarthy flirts with blarney, as when he tries to describe “A world construed out of blood and blood’s alcahest and blood in its core and in its integument because it was that nothing save blood had power to resonate against that void which threatened hourly to devour it.” Conceived in blood, The Crossing is a facsimile of that flow that is both life and death. Late in the novel, a Gypsy berates the failures of photographers: “In their images they had thought to find some small immortality but oblivion cannot be appeased,” he says, attributing to this fundamental failure an explanation for “why they were men of the road.” Because readers are easier to appease than oblivion, McCarthy’s moving evocation of the open road is likely to endure. [7] This is Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers and toxic wastes, to mention a few. BUT DO NOT DESPAIR TO SUBSCRIBE: Name Address City State Zip $32 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $32. 307 West 7th, Austin, TX 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19