Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: January 16, 2007
by John Williams, introduction by Michelle Latiolais
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.John Williams, introduction by Michelle Latiolais
One of the finest novels of the West ever to come out of the West.
—Stanton Peckham, The Sunday Denver Post
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
Butcher's Crossing is perhaps the finest western in literature. John Williams may have published only a few novels, but they were all just about perfect. Although the subject and story is much different than Williams's Stoner, Butcher's Crossing is equally beautiful, heartbreaking, and historically accurate.
—Jeffrey J, Powell’s City of Books blog
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
A new look at the old story of the west. At last...a writer has used the familiar episodes to do what all good fiction should do—give the reader fresh insight into human life.
— Chicago Tribune