Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses is one of the most well-known works of the last four decades. The first of McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, it won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. Taking place in 1949, the novel explores the intimate story of relationships while at the same time presenting a global consideration of the American economic expansion that would set the tone for the second half of the twentieth century.
The novel also highlights a homogenization of North America thanks to the increase in jobs across the continent as well as the expansion of the transportation system. With America and Mexico sharing an unprecedented period of growth, Americans like McCarthy’s sixteen-year-old protagonist, John Grady Cole, and his best friend Lacey Rawlins could cross the border with ease, bringing into focus how both countries alternatingly accepted and resisted assimilation. As a sociocultural, political, and economic tour de force, McCarthy’s novel remains compelling and provocative thirty years after it first captured the attention of the literary world in 1992. This collection examines McCarthy’s book from various perspectives—historical, cultural, social, economic, ethnic, and literary.
The book opens with an essay by editors Laura Nicosia and James F. Nicosia titled, “All the Pretty Horses: McCarthy’s Breakthrough into the American Canon,” followed by a author biography by J. Gavin Paul.
This leads into the Critical Context section of the book which contains the following essays:
- All the Pretty Horses: McCarthy’s Vision of Frontier Myths and Revolutionary Struggles, by Melinda Knight
- All the Pretty Horses Alters the Reception and Prestige of McCarthy, by Amy Leshinsky
- Wilderness 2.0: Redefining and Rewilding Wilderness in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, by Aaron A. Cloyd
- Cooper, McCarthy, and the Nineteenth-Century Roots of All the Pretty Horses, by Jericho Williams
Following the Critical Context section is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays
- “. . . one thing more of things she lay among”: Ecological Form inMcCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, by Seth Forrest
- Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, Allison Harl
- The Use of Polysyndeton and Cinematic Montage in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, Rosa Parker
- The Landscape of Grief: Dispossession and Self-Discovery in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horsesand Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Elissa Greenwald
- Under the Influence: Melville, Bloodlines, and McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, Stephen Daly
- The Cowboy and the American Dream: Charting the Binaries of the West in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, Shubham Singh
- John Grady Cole as an Example of (Non)Traditional Western Masculinity in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, Amanda Zastrow
- The Quest for Romantic Love: The Role of Women in All the Pretty Horses, Elissa Greenwald
- Puppets Upon Puppets Upon Puppets: Forces at Play inthe Mother’s Construction in All the Pretty Horses, Amy Leshinsky
- Confronting the Capitalocene: Capitalism, Culture, and Codes in All the Pretty Horses, Sakti Sekhar Dash
Each essay in Critical Insights: All the Pretty Horses includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life, beginning with a Chronology of Cormac McCarthy’s Life. This is followed by a list of Works by Cormac McCarthy and a Bibliography. Finally, this section closes with an About the Editor section, Contributors, and a detailed Index.