Set in 1949, this is the story of John Grady Cole, who, at the age of sixteen, finds himself at the losing end of a long generation of ranchers. His grandfather's death has just cut him off from the only life he has ever imagined wanting. Abandoned by his parents troubles, heading over the border seems the only way out of a society moving in all of the wrong directions so, with his friend Rawlins, he rides away. Soon enough, they acquire a hapless younger companion and jobs breaking horses on a hacienda. Within months, one of the boys is dead and childhood has passed for the other two, along with an era that once uniquely defined America. This is, indisputably a timeless masterpiece.
Part bildungsroman, part horse opera, part meditation on courage and loyalty, this beautifully crafted novel won the National Book Award in 1992. The plot is simple enough. John Grady Cole, a 16-year-old dispossessed Texan, crosses the Rio Grande into Mexico in 1949, accompanied by his pal Lacey Rawlins. The two precocious horsemen pick up a sidekick--a laughable but deadly marksman named Jimmy Blevins--encounter various adventures on their way south and finally arrive at a paradisiacal hacienda where Cole falls into an ill-fated romance. Readers familiar with McCarthy's Faulknerian prose will find the writing more restrained than in Suttree and Blood Meridian. Newcomers will be mesmerized by the tragic tale of John Grady Cole's coming of age.