No Country for Old Men
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In his blistering new novel, Cormac McCarthy returns to the Texas-Mexico border, setting of his famed Border Trilogy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones.
One day, a good old boy named Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a bodyguard of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law–in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell–can contain.
As Moss tries to evade his pursuers–in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives–McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines.
No Country for Old Men is a triumph.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
A very great book.
McCarthy is our greatest living author, in my opinion, and this is an outstanding novel to read. Chigurh, along with Judge Holden in Blood Meridian, is one of the greatest, deepest, characters ever devised.
This book sucked me in and grabbed me until it was over. I found myself hoping for more when I reached the end. McCarthy has a way with words that simultaneously complex and irresistibly simple. While it is not quite the haunting tale that it Blood Meridian, it is still a fantastic read.
Interesting take on honor and pesonal codes
McCarthy tells the story of several lives that interact because Moss, a Vietnam Vet, while out hunting comes upon a drug deal gone bad and takes a case of money. He ends up pursued by drug dealers, the law and a philosophical killer named Chigurh.
The story moves quickly and the bodies pile up. Woven throughout are the thoughts of Bell, the Sheriff who investigates the whole thing and tries to help Moss. Bell reflects on his life and how the world has changed as he finds himself always two steps behind and unable to do what he sees as his job.
The prose is tight, moves quickly, and the dialog helps build the characters. (I listened to the audio version and the narration was well done, just adjusting enough for each character to be distinct.) Chigurh is creepy and yet intense in his own philosophical outlook on life and death. Moss is sympathetic and Bell holds it all together. McCarthy doesn't write happy endings, but it is a good story that questions the ideas of honor, and luck, and how personal codes can drive individuals to extremes that end up lead to a sense of inevitability .
McCarthy intersperses Bell's first person thoughts with the third person narration of the remainder of the book. Even the narrative distance moves in and out depending on who the focus is - Chigurh most distant, while Moss and Bell are in tight, giving a sense of connection that adds to the strange, frightening sense of doom that Chigurh brings.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and having seen the movie years ago, will say that the film managed to bring a difficult story to the screen.