Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Cormac McCarthy is to some degree a very distinguished writer of a normally cheap genre of fiction: as Brewton claims, McCarthy's goal in All the Pretty Horses was to "tell authentic westerns using the basic formulas of the genre while avoiding the false sentimentality, uncritical nostalgia, and unearned happy endings that often characterize the genre in its popular forms." (133). But what kind of representation of the American West can we expect from a novel that takes its cues from popular culture? McCarthy seems aware of the paradox. Near the opening of All the Pretty Horses, McCarthy's protagonist John Grady Cole has a youthful reverie while staring at a painted picture of horses rampant:

On the wall opposite above the sideboard was an oilpainting of horses. There were half a dozen of them breaking through a pole corral and their manes were long and...
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