The Crossing

by Cormac McCarthy

In Brief

The Crossing is the story of Billy Parham, sixteen years old at the start of the novel and living on a ranch in Hidalgo County, New Mexico, in the years just before World War II. When Billy catches a pregnant she-wolf on his family’s estate, he makes the fateful decision to cross the border with the intention of returning the wolf to the Mexican mountains. Billy will come to make that crossing three times in total. Each time he will lose something, each loss more devastating than the one before it. Ultimately, Billy’s crossing of the Mexican border will be his rite of passage into a world of sadness and terrible beauty.

Why you should read it

The second instalment of McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, The Crossing contains some of his finest writing. A more melancholy and intentionally meandering work than its predecessor, All The Pretty Horses, it is admittedly a challenging proposition. For those willing to take up that challenge, however, the rewards are ample - in what is arguably McCarthy’s most powerful and haunting novel. Depicting a world already on the verge of extinction at the time of the novel's setting, The Crossing is ultimately about loss; but it is also about the power of stories to shape meaning out of human existence. For anyone who still believes in the transformative power of the written word, McCarthy’s novel is essential reading.

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