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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

Lin Enger: IMG Knowing vs. Knowing



On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The High Divide

    Lin Enger 9781616203757

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No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men

Hooker, September 22, 2011

Every now and then I begin wondering why I love Cormac McCarthy's novels so much. I sit there and think of all his books that I have read. I think of his unique perception of life. And the violence. "Are we, as a society, really this violent?" Sometimes I wonder if it an exaggeration. But when I finally read No Country I knew that there was not a lot of exaggeration, at least not in this book.

You see, I am from Odessa, TX. Born and raised in the West Texas dirt. I have camped and hiked all through the Big Bend area. I have visited Eagle Pass, Junction and walked along the Rio Grande. I have seen the drug problem that has grown and experienced it first hand. I tell you this not because I want to brag about how I have been here or been there but because I want to tell you why I enjoyed this book so much. It struck a chord with me. My past opened up a special connection with the characters. It allowed me to sympathize with Sheriff Tom's philosophizing prose about the country of West Texas and the effect such a country has on the people who live there. It is violent. It is tough. It is unforgiving. You may go a whole year without water. People die. When the water does come it comes too fast. People die. But yet there is such a raw beauty about growing up in places like those described by McCarthy. People who move there often hate the country. It often tears them down and imprisons them in their own despair. Yet, people choose to stay there. They build up a life out of caliche and mesquite. They develop a fanatical allegiance to the area.

But enough of that. This book is probably one of my favorites of McCarthy. Reading it six years after it was originally published, the book has a certain prophetic aspect to it as the violence of the drug culture in Mexico has now begun spilling over into Texas (and New Mexico, Arizona and California). At the center of this is Ed Tom, the old sheriff that everyone up lifts as being the honorable man from a different time and the brutal killer Chigurh who has his own code. Yet is Sheriff Tom really from a different time? Is he really that different from those who are on a killing spree across the state? Are Tom and Chigurh really that different? Which is the more honorable of the two?

It must be noted that the movie did a pretty good job on telling most of the story. But as always, you MUST read the book. It tells so much more that is not captured in the movie. Go on. Don't put it off like I did. Read this book.
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