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Download Butcher's Crossing Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample Butchers Crossing (Unabridged) Audiobook, by John Williams
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (674 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Williams Narrator: Anthony Heald Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc. Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2010 ISBN:
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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 paradisiacal 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.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rod | 1/19/2014

    " I didn't enjoy this as much as Williams' other novels, Stoner and Augustus, which were both two of my absolute favorite books I read this year, but it was nonetheless a very good read despite some slow going for me through the first half. It was really hard for me to get engaged in this book at first for some reason, but that was probably more my fault than the book's; I just don't think I was in the mood for a western when I started it, but I was definitely craving more Williams, so that kept me going. Once the characters found themselves in true jeopardy, snowbound in the mountains, that was where the rubber hit the road for me, and from that point on the rest was gripping. Even through the slow parts, though, Williams' fine prose sustains you. For those looking for a revisionist western/back-to-nature/survival novel that is also a well written piece of literature, you can't go wrong here. I could see it making a fine film adaptation, which it is slated to be in 2013. I look forward to that, if only for the reason that it will garner some more attention for this under-recognized novelist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 The Master | 1/9/2014

    " I don't like westerns, but I liked this one. Big country, big hunting, big dreams -- crashing headlong into the reality of the old west. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bryant | 12/31/2013

    " The weakest of Williams's novels: if you're going to read him (and you should), read Stoner and Augustus. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margie | 12/25/2013

    " John Williams wrote Stoner which I enjoyed. So wanted to read something else by him. This was written just as wonderfully. Would read him again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin Sterling | 12/21/2013

    " I don't think I've actually really read a Western before. This is less of a cowboys and Indians Western, and more the story of a Harvard-educated Emerson-reading privileged man who goes out west to discover truth in the Western countryside. While I admire the writing and the grit, it's a pretty grim story and I probably won't be reading many more. However, I was surprised how quickly the story moved for me despite the harsh circumstances and 40-page descriptions of buffalo hunts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 12/17/2013

    " Will Andrews leaves Harvard and his prosperous Boston family for a tiny settlement called Butcher's Crossing, in search of his true self in the wilderness and a state of Emersonian transcendence. So he sets off on a buffalo hunt. But instead of Emersonian transcendence, he finds something considerably less inspiring. This is a Cormac McCarthy-style western before Cormac McCarthy, except that Williams avoids a descent into bloody grand guignol in favour of bleak restraint. And the ending is all the more powerful for it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah Funke | 12/2/2013

    " Anything that's prefaced by a quotation from Melville's The Confidence Man is ok by me. This one, by the author of Stoner, owes a lot more to Melville than that -- from Transcendental meditations to musings on "white," not to mention the monomania of a man on a hunt (like Gatsby, come to think of it, but broader, and deeper, and colder/wetter, and hotter/thirstier). This is Moby-Dick in the early American west, with many, many buffalo instead of a single whale, and set very very much on land. Williams's writing doesn't lend itself to easy quotation -- he does not write epigrammatically, but gorgeously. I'd imagine it would be a wonderful book to read aloud (if anyone still does that). The parts that I marked to re-read and re-read are paragraphs, passages, and pages, so I'll leave it to you to get a copy, open it to any page, and see if you can put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Larry | 11/9/2013

    " This is my second book by this author, and I'm having a hard time imagining him writing anything not worth reading. This is a real craftman of the art. The story this time is a great American Western. Think of a recent Robert Duvall movie. Yet, I'll tell you it leaves out American Indians, gunfights, beef cattle, and range wars, and STILL it has plenty left over to engage the reader and set it firmly in the genre. At least one reader called it a Western Moby Dick, and I can see the rationale, though, that comparison did not jump out at me. The ending is not what is expected...both to the characters and to the reader. There will be avid readers that will not like this book, but they will not be readers who read for either the craftsmanship or for the depth of the narrative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 11/5/2013

    " No Blood Meridian, and no Stoner, but haunting and engrossing all the same. I can't believe I ate a hamburger the day after reading the scene of the first day at the hunt. Or am I only enlightened to my own dark part in terrifying, unrelenting nature? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew | 9/17/2013

    " I was considering rereading this and realized that my four star rating must have been given in a fit of insanity. This book kicks ass, and might be in my top five all time. John Williams is definitely top five favorite author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 7/10/2013

    " My favorite of John William's three published works. I won't write much - just read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 7/2/2013

    " What a terrific, unjustly neglected novel this is. Yes, it's a western, but it's also a haunting allegory on civilization (or humanity) and its destructive urges. Written in unostentatious but quietly effective and sometimes lyrical prose. Kudos to NYRB Classics for reviving this. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Toby | 3/13/2013

    " Not at the same (stone cold perfect) level as STONER but great read. Compare it to the BLOOD MERIDIAN (which I've yet to make it through). Williams writing is pretty amazing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janet | 12/9/2012

    " I liked this even better than Stoner. The descriptive language was lyrical. Some phrases and images will stay with me forever. I could reread this just to reexperience the language. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joem | 11/16/2012

    " Wonderfully slow paced, atmospheric book. And to date, the only book I've ever read that takes place in such a cowboyish time and place. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James Robbins | 7/19/2012

    " One of the best books I ever read. I have read for many years.I think this is one of the greatest western novel ever written. It has more meaning today than even when it was wrote. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 2/4/2012

    " quite good. reviews I have found do not compare it to heart of darkness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 4/12/2011

    " I love westerns, and this book takes you there and doesn't come back to get you. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ben | 4/9/2011

    " A simple, yet elegantly written story of a buffalo hunt filled with depth and meaning while touching on the great themes of western literature. A great novel that is crying out to be reread, over and over again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen | 3/24/2011

    " This is a great book. I highly recommend it. The writing is beautiful, nature plays a big role and is exquisitely portrayed and then there's the human condition which the author shines a light on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 1/3/2011

    " No Blood Meridian, and no Stoner, but haunting and engrossing all the same. I can't believe I ate a hamburger the day after reading the scene of the first day at the hunt. Or am I only enlightened to my own dark part in terrifying, unrelenting nature? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 3/24/2010

    " What a terrific, unjustly neglected novel this is. Yes, it's a western, but it's also a haunting allegory on civilization (or humanity) and its destructive urges. Written in unostentatious but quietly effective and sometimes lyrical prose. Kudos to NYRB Classics for reviving this. "

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About the Author
Author John Williams

John Williams (1922–1994) was born in Texas. The poet and novelist taught at and received his PhD from the University of Missouri in the early 1950s. In 1955 he became the director of the University of Denver’s creative writing program, where he became the editor of the University of Denver Quarterly. He remained at Denver until his retirement in 1986. He was a cowinner of the 1973 National Book Award for Fiction for the novel Augustus.

About the Narrator

Anthony Heald, an Audie Award–winning narrator, has earned Tony nominations and an Obie Award for his theater work; appeared in television’s Law & Order, The X-Files, Miami Vice, and Boston Public; and starred as Dr. Frederick Chilton in the 1991 Oscar-winning film The Silence of the Lambs. He lives in Ashland, Oregon, with his family.