The Crossing, is the second book in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy. Perhaps it's because I read it first, but it is my favourite of the three. It's also one of the best novels I have read. McCarthy's prose style is lengthy and flowing. His disregard for short sentences and superfluous punctuation is difficult to adapt to while reading initially but soon seems second nature. I found this novel interesting because of both the story and his remarkable way with words. I use the word 'story' and not plot deliberately, this is not an arty book, it is a story, one superbly told at that.
It is the story of Billy Parham, the last cowboy perhaps, and his quest throughout the area surrounding the US - Mexico border. Like real life this quest is an undefined adventure, an unspoken search for answers perhaps or just one young mans journey. I won't spoil the plot, but it is a harrowing tale, true to life in the manner in which events occur. McCarthy doesn't use convenient plot devices or outrageous coincidence, this makes the book read like a fictional biography. At times Billy meets characters which allow McCarthy scope to philosophise, I found some of these dialogues difficult to read, some beared second reading which usually paid off in terms of understanding a profound truth which the author was trying to share. These conversations never seemed incongruous to me though they might to some.
What I enjoyed most though was the writing. The story is not a mundane one, but neither is it one of mystery or intrigue. Retold by another the story could lose all of its power. What carries the book is the power of McCarthy's descriptions, his eye for aesthetic detail and the skill which he portrays the Mexican landscape and her people. His diction is unforced and concise and so refined that he suggests most things without having to explicitly state them. I find that I cannot adequately describe this, so GO READ THE BOOK. The style I've attempted to describe here is used in the three books of the trilogy but is at its peak in The Crossing in my opinion.
I apologise if anyone feels I have misrepresented this book. It's odd that I find it difficult to explain something that affected me so much.