Bookshelf #12: Butcher’s Crossing

Have you ever put a but down and not known how you feel about it? That’s what happened to me when I finished John Williams’ Butcher’s Crossing.

Now, I am a huge John Williams fan and thoroughly enjoyed what probably is his best known work – Stoner. The language he uses is gorgeous. Concise but subtly poetic while to the point. I found this to be true with Butcher’s Crossing as well but still, it was an effort to work my way through this novel.

I think it was the subject matter most of all. A young man in a frontier town, corralling a group of cowboys to join him on his first buffalo hunt. The men make it through this grueling journey to return to a town changed irrevocably. It is interesting, thought-provoking and touching for sure, but Western settings have just never been my forte.

Still, the book managed to grip me completely in its second half when the men live through the life-threatening winter months after getting caught up in the abundance of buffalo to kill. It is a riveting story with moments of sheer terror and suspense that, after all, managed to stay with me for a good few days.

Once again, Williams managed to lure me in with a beautifully written and sharply constructed story that, had it been concerned with a more relatable subject matter (for me), might have become a favorite of mine.

Nevertheless, I found it a wonderful reading experience because it was a seldom case of conflicting feelings that made me think about the power of literature and confirmed, again, my love for the written word.

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