The conclusion is one of the most important things I look at whenever I judge how I like a particular book as a whole. Some of my favorites possess such a stellar finish that I can hardly breathe as I finish the final pages. Normally, if I have this desire deep in my gut, mostly an urge to get a pen as quickly as possible and start writing ideas — the ending will have been successful.
Three of these novels include: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Unaccustomed Earth, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
I just recently finished reading All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy’s style is not for everyone; it takes me awhile, for instance, to get with the rhythm of his prose, to get around the heavy and plodding – albeit beautiful – descriptions. He does things with words I can only dream of. However, his endings are what rivet me most of the time; I feel that …Horses simply blows whatever McCarthy has done to a catharsis or climax in the other novels I’ve tackled by him out of the water. I was seriously blown away. This final snippet left a lump in my throat; I could barely go on and read the final paragraphs, which turned out to be a stirring flourish to such a great book.
It will be a bit of time before I obtain enough energy to invest in his work, but I know it will most likely be worth it in the long run.
Don’t continue if you wish to read this novel in the future; you need to work to get here, and I think my patience was well rewarded. It was rewarded tenfold.
The day of the burial out at Knickerbocker it was cool and windy. He’d turned the horses into the pasture on the far side of the road and he sat for a long time watching down the road to the north where the weather was building and the sky was gray and after a while the funeral cortege appeared. An old Packard hearse with a varied assortment of dusty cars and trucks behind. They pulled up along the road in front of the little Mexican cemetery and people got out into the road and the pallbearers in their suits of faded black stood at the rear of the hearse and they carried Abuela’s casket up through the gate into the cemetery. He stood across the road holding his hat. No one looked at him. They carried her up into the cemetery followed by a priest and a boy in a white gown ringing a bell and they buried her and they prayed and they wept and they wailed and then they came back down out of the cemetery into the road helping each other along and weeping and got into the cars and turned one by one on the narrow blacktop and went back the way they’d come.
The hearse had already gone. There was a pickup truck parked further down the road and he put on his hat and sat there on the slope of the bar ditch and in a little while two men came down the path out of the cemetery with shovels over their shoulders and they walked down the road and put the shovels in the bed of the truck and got in and turned around the drove away.
He stood and crossed the road and walked up into the cemetery past the old stonework crypt and past the little headstones and their small remembrances, the sunfaded paper flowers, a china vase, a broken celluloid Virgin. The names he knew or had known…
…He stood hat in hand over the unmarked earth. This woman who had worked for his family fifty years. She had cared for his mother as a baby and she had worked for his family long before his mother was born and she had known and cared for the wild Grady boys who were his mother’s uncles and who had all died so long ago and he stood holding his hat and he called her his abuela and he said goodbye to her in spanish and then turned and put on his hat and turned his wet face to the wind and for a moment he held out his hands as if to steady himself or as to bless the ground there or perhaps as if to slow the world that was rushing away and seemed to care nothing for the old or the young or rich or poor or dark or pale or he or she. Nothing for their struggles, nothing for their names. Nothing for the living or the dead. pp. 300-301.