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Butcher's Crossing [Paperback]

By John Edward Williams & Michelle Latiolais (Introduction by)
Our Price $ 12.71  
Retail Value $ 14.95  
You Save $ 2.24  (15%)  
Item Number 426281  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   274
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 16, 2007
Publisher   NYRB Classics
ISBN  1590171985  
EAN  9781590171981  

Availability  26 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 04:00.
Usually ships within one to two business days from Chambersberg, PA.
Orders shipping to an address other than a confirmed Credit Card / Paypal Billing address may incur and additional processing delay.

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Item Description...
In his National Book Award–winning novel Augustus, John Williams uncovered the secrets of ancient Rome. With Butcher's Crossing, his fiercely intelligent, beautifully written western, Williams dismantles the myths of modern America.

It is the 1870s, and Will Andrews, fired up by Emerson to seek “an original relation to nature,” drops out of Harvard and heads west. He washes up in Butcher's Crossing, a small Kansas town on the outskirts of nowhere. Butcher's Crossing is full of restless men looking for ways to make money and ways to waste it. Before long Andrews strikes up a friendship with one of them, a man who regales Andrews with tales of immense herds of buffalo, ready for the taking, hidden away in a beautiful valley deep in the Colorado Rockies. He convinces Andrews to join in an expedition to track the animals down. The journey out is grueling, but at the end is a place of paradisal richness. Once there, however, the three men abandon themselves to an orgy of slaughter, so caught up in killing buffalo that they lose all sense of time. Winter soon overtakes them: they are snowed in. Next spring, half-insane with cabin fever, cold, and hunger, they stagger back to Butcher's Crossing to find a world as irremediably changed as they have been.
"One of the finest books about the elusive nature of the West ever written...It's a graceful and brutal story of isolated men gone haywire." --Time Out New York

"Harsh and relentless yet muted in tone, Butcher's Crossing paved the way for Cormac McCarthy. It was perhaps the first and best revisionist western." --The New York Times Book Review

"One of the finest novels of the West ever to come out of the West."--The Denver Post

"Williams didn't write much compared with some novelists, but everything he did was exceedingly's a shame that he's not more often read today...But it's great that at least two of his novels [Stoner, Butcher's Crossing] have found their way back into print." --The Denver Post

“Reading John Williams–even to have done so at the time these novels were written–is an exercise in nostalgia, a nostalgia found also in writers like Willa Cather, for whom the West represented a lost redoubt of intellectual dignity...It is tempting to say that Cather's tradition flagged because the West has changed – it is no longer anybody's bildungsroman–but it is safer to say that writers as talented and right-minded as John Williams are not naturally plentiful.” –New York Sun

This story about the hunt of one of the last great buffalo herds "becomes a young man's search for the integrity of his own being...The characters are defined, the events lively, the place, the smells, the sounds right. And the prose is superb, a rarity in writing about the west. More, John Williams."--The Chicago Tribune

"John Williams's unsparing novels express a highly qualified though resilient optimism about our ability to salvage something of value from life's impossible conditions. Along with the necessary isolation of the artist, he conveys the sobering if startled recognition--perhaps with his own career in mind--of the transitory triumph of art."--Times Literary Supplement
John Williams (1922—1994) was born in Texas. He taught for many years at the University of Denver, where he was head of the creative writing program. Williams won the 1973 National Book Award in fiction for Augustus. His novel Stoner is also published as an NYRB Classic.

Michelle Latiolais is an associate professor of English at the UC Irvine. Her novel, Even Now, won a Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California. She has recently published fiction and essays in The Antioch Review, Santa Monica Review, and ZYZZYVA.

Buy Butcher's Crossing by John Edward Williams & Michelle Latiolais from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781590171981 & 1590171985

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More About John Edward Williams & Michelle Latiolais

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Williams (1922 1994) was born in Texas. He taught for many years at the University of Denver, where he was head of the creative writing program. Williams won the 1973 National Book Award in fiction for Augustus. His novel Stoner is also published as an NYRB Classic.
Michelle Latiolais is an associate professor of English at the UC Irvine. Her novel, Even Now, won a Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California. She has recently published fiction and essays in The Antioch Review, Santa Monica Review, and ZYZZYVA."

John Williams has published or released items in the following series...
  1. New York Review Books Classics

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics   [48700  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary   [246863  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Westerns > General   [2080  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Westerns   [0  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Classics > General   [2799  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Camus in the American West  Nov 14, 2008
Poetic prose. Intense descriptions that almost threaten you enough with its unbearable inevitibility to stop your reading--see the buffalo massacre. Existential scenery and action throughout. A minimalist style that sculpts the story neatly. Butcher's Crossing is in the American vein of Cooper's Leather Stocking Tales--see The Priarie-; lifts the "Western" story telling above Oakly Hall and Cormack McCarthy, taking it to a new level--as Jarmusch did in his Western film Dead Man and beyond Eastwood's High Plains Drifter; Butcher's Crossing is a cowboy novel Camus would have written had he located The Stranger in America rather than Africa. Yet this is a great American novel regardless of setting that explores the energies and desires, drives and values that propel American society. The ending is as difficult to bear as the buffalo hunt--the metaphor of both and the novel overall leaves you inspired and disturbed. One of the best books I have ever read from an almost anonymous American novelist.

Last note: John Williams' other novels, Stoner and Augustus are equally amazing works of writing, literature and art.

John Williams should be required reading for every student of literature, at least. For people who love to read great writing, he is mandatory.
A literary novel of the west.  Nov 9, 2008
This is an excellent novel, and the recent acclaim is well deserved.

I think it is best read if you do not know anything about the plot. The events unfold easily and the language is plain, although it is not a novel I will read again and again as I have Cormac McCarthy's BLOOD MERIDIAN. One time through BUTCHER'S CROSSING, and I feel like I know it by heart. It is big enough and ambiguous enough to allow several interpretations of the novel's events.

The ending certainly begs different interpretations, but I see the novel is primarily naturalism, in the same vein as Stephen Crane, Jack London, and Frank Norris. I thought of BLOOD MERIDIAN a time or two, but more often I thought of A. B. Guthrie's THE BIG SKY and Vardis Fisher's MOUNTAIN MAN.
Amazing  Feb 19, 2008
One of the most beautiful and important books ever written. I loved Stoner and this novel was just as stunning if not more so. If I had it my way this would be a must read for every person who was interested in the American West.
An Unusual "Western"  Jan 1, 2008
The novel is set around a Harvard graduate's search for self-understanding and initiation into manhood through participation in a buffalo hunt during the 1880's. While the setting and subject matter are clearly "Western" in nature, the novel shares few other similarities with traditional stories of the West. There are no encounters with Indians or shoot-outs with rival Cowboys. Instead, Williams' story brings to life the brutal nature of the hunt, the drab and barren existence of life in a Colorado boom-town and the mix of beauty and terrible ferocity of nature with an almost naturalistic approach similar to that of Zola.
Brilliant! On a Par with McCarthy's BLOOD MERIDIAN  Aug 27, 2007
If such a thing as the Great American Novel can be said to exist, it would very likely encompass the country's 19th Century westward expansion. After all, it was this irresistible land grab - with its ruthless expulsion and genocide of native Americans, its hunting to exinction of buffalo, and its struggles against Nature in search of the better life - that defined America's cultural personality and self-image for the following 150 - 200 years. The rootless but ever-hopeful individualist, the lonely conqueror of Nature, the rugged Marlboro Man begat the robber barons and industrialists, the real estate, oil, and hedge fund tycoons, the Internet entrepreneurs, and even the self-righteous, Iraq-invading neoconservatives.

Amazingly, John Williams's utterly brilliant BUTCHER'S CROSSING - perhaps, indeed, THE Great American Novel - appears to have gone largely unnoticed among the general reading public. Published in 1960, five years before the author's equally impressive STONER and 25 years before Cormac McCarthy's deservedly renowned BLOOD MERIDIAN, BUTCHER'S CROSSING encapsulates many of the American West's mythologies. Yet Williams is hardly a romantic in his interpretation. He presents the opening West as harsh and brutal, populated by socially challenged obsessives who view the land and everything in it as their private domains, seized by choice and held by force of will and gun.

Williams's ostensible hero is William Andrews, fresh from three years at Harvard and seeking an adventure in the West with a childlike enthusiasm and understanding. His mind filled by a romantic, Emerson-inspired view of Nature and his pockets filled with an inheritance from his uncle, Andrews heads for the decidedly uninspired, six-building town of Butcher's Crossing, Kansas. Within a matter of days, greenhorn Will has met the local buffalo hide trader McDonald and a long-time buffalo hunter named Miller. The traditional hunting grounds in Kansas have already been depleted to the point where only small herds of a few hundred animals can be found. However, Miller had discovered a hidden mountain valley in Colorado nine years earlier teeming with buffalo and has been waiting for enough money to finance the expedition. In return for accompanying the party as an apprentice hide skinner, Andrews underwrites the hunt. Miller recruits his neurotic sidekick, the Bible-beating Charley Hoge as the wagon man and a taciturn German named Schneider as their skinner. While Miller is away purchasing the necessary supplies, Will meets a prostitute named Francine. She falls for his soft hands and not yet hardened heart, but the immature Will is frightened off by her aggressive sexuality.

The bulk of BUTCHER'S CROSSING concerns the journey to find the buffalo, Miller's rediscovery of his Shangri-la valley, the hunt itself, the life-threatening storms the group endures, and finally, the difficult return trip to Butcher's Crossing to sell their hides. Along the way, Williams's book becomes a classic coming of age story, a discourse on ecology and species survival, and the story of an irrational, Ahab-like obsession that nearly ends in the men's destruction. In the end, Williams levies his own ironic form of judgment against Miller and McDonald for their repeated violations of Nature. Despite reconciling his feelings for Francine on his return to town, Andrews's future in the West is left deliberately uncertain. Perhaps he has finally learned to live with and respect Nature and will eventually find his rightful place. Or perhaps he, too, will be punished for his sins, forever banished to wandering the wilds alone, scarred by the real-life education he so enthusiastically sought from Miller.

Throughout the book, Williams's writing is sparse and direct, unsparing in its treatment of the men's deprivations and the bloodiness of the hunt. His characters are distinctive and memorable; although we never see deeply inside them, we know them for the archetypes they are. Dialog is limited and short, as these are men of few words. The overall effect of the writing remarkably prefigures that of Cormac McCarthy without the density and compound, run-on sentences, resulting in a highly readable and deeply engaging page turner. Fans of McCarthy will certainly appreciate Williams's accomplishment here, but I believe BUTCHER'S CROSSING merits a much wider audience. This is a magnificent but regrettably under-recognized work of literature that feels timeless in its writing style and enduring in its themes.

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