Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy

This is the third novel in The Border Trilogy. It is less portentous and self-consciously magisterial than the others, though familiar symbols such as redness in the sky recur. It is memorable and unsettling, chronicling the advent of modernity in the West. The main characters are, in a way, the last cowboys.

The story concerns a desperate search for love and companionship in a pretty brutal environment. The prose is spare and the psychology is hinted at, rather than described, but no less convincing for that.

Male characters dominate. The final, slightly surreal, episode of the novel seems to reveal the fundamental vulnerability of these superficially hard and tested men.

All in all, rather brilliant.

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