Inviting the Wrath of the Gods

More great work from Cormac McCarthy

Last night I stayed up till after 1 a.m. finishing The Crossing, book two in the Border Trilogy.  Here are some lines and paragraphs from the book that I found beautiful, haunting, or incredibly well-written.


He was but some brevity of a being.


The old man by whatever instinct stood on ground at once blessed and fraughtful.  This was his choice, this his gesture.  All agreed his testimony was a powerful one.  The strength of his conviction was plain to them.  In his words there was little measure and little of restraint.  In his new life the libertine was out.  Do you see?  By his arrogance he had engaged the living thing.  On that perilous ground he had made of himself the only witness there can ever be and if some saw in his eyes the rapture of madness what else would one look for in one who had enjoined the God of the universe on ground of that God's own choosing?  For that is always the nature of such ground, perilous and transitory.  And it is indeed so that you make your case there or nowhere.


his way through the world was so broad it scarcely made a path at all.


Nor does God whisper through the trees.  His voice is not to be mistaken.  When men hear it they fall to their knees and their souls are riven and they cry out to Him and there is no fear in them but only that wildness of heart that springs from such longing and they cry out to stay his presence for they know at once that while godless men may live well enough in their exile those to whom He has spoken can contemplate no life without Him but only darkness and despair.  Trees and stones are not part of it.


Do you believe in God?

On godly days.


He nodded.  He knew her well enough, this old woman of Mexico, her sons long dead in that blood and violence which her prayers and her prostrations seemed powerless to appease.  Her frail form was a constant in that land, her silent anguishings.  Beyond the church walls the night harbored a millennial dread panoplied in feathers and the scales of royal fish and if it yet fed upon the children still who could say what worse wastes of war and torment and despair the old woman's constancy might not have stayed, what direr histories yet against which could be counted at last nothing more than her small figure bent and mumbling, her crone's hands clutching her beads of fruitseed.  Unmoving, austere, implacable.  Before just such a God.


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These are good quotations.

One of my favorite smaller story-arcs in the Border Trilogy is the opening sequence with Billy's sojourn with the wolf. That chapter was chilling the way it built all the way up to Billy having to shoot the wolf in the middle of the fight-ring.

I also thought the ending was excellent and haunting, with Billy sitting in the middle of the road, watching the A-Bomb explode in the middle of the night.


Thanks for saying that because I had not realized it. I just went and re-read that section. I had been confused by that paragraph and didn't realize what it was refering to.

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