We're down here huntin some horses that was stole.
In whose charge were these horses?
No one answered.
She looked at Boyd. She spread the fan. Painted across the folded bellows of the ricepaper was a dragon with great round eyes. She folded it shut. For how long will you seek these horses? she said.
Ever how long it takes.
Podria ser un viaje largo.
Long voyages often lose themselves.
You will will. It is difficult even for brothers to travel together on such a voyage. The road has its own reasons and no two travelers will have the same understanding of those reasons. If indeed they come to an understanding of them at all. Listen to the corridos of the country. They will tell you. Then you will see in your own life what is the cost of things. Perhaps it is true that nothing is hidden. Yet many do not wish to see what lies before them in plain sight. You will see. The shape of the road is the road. There is not some other road that wears that shape but only the one...
For the last 100 pages or so, this novel seemed to me a long voyage that had lost itself. But Billy does indeed come to see the cost of things. And those corridos are sung at the very end of the book, when Billy is more ready to hear them. Billy lives a bleak and rugged life but one driven by single minded purpose, and that purpose in turn, driven by love.
Five pages couldn't go by in this book when there wasn't writing to admire.
Boyd pulled the muslin cover up and lay back and looked at him. His long pale uncut hair all about his and his face so thin. What is it? he said.
Talk to me.
Go to bed.
I need for you to talk to me.
It's okay. Everything's okay.
No it aint.
You just worry about stuff. I'm all right.
I know you are, said Billy. But I aint...
I found the simplicity of that dialogue heartbreaking, but McCarthy is not a one-trick pony, not four sentences later:
He got his things from the house and saddled the horse and rode out. He said goodbye to no one. He sat the horse in the road beyond the river cottonwoods and he looked off downcountry at the mountains and he looked to the west where thunderheads were standing sheared off from the thin dark horizon and he looked at the keep cyanic sky taut and vaulted over the whole of Mexico where the antique world clung to the stones and to the spores of living things and dwelt in the blood of men. He turned the horse and set out along the road south, shadowless in the gray day, riding with the shotgun unscabbarded across the bow of the saddle. For the enmity of the world was newly plain to him that day and cold and inameliorate as it must be to all who have no longer cause except themselves to stand against it.
Who uses a word like 'inameliorate?' I love that sentence. It is so absolute, like rock - I feel certain as I read it that there is nothing more true. I got a little disconnected from this book toward the end, but I am glad I stuck with it. Here are my other thoughts about it: 1, 2.