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No Country for Old Menby Cormac Mccarthy
This may not be Cormac McCarthy's best book, or even one of the best books of the year (in fact, its construction is a bit incoherent), yet I remain a sucker for the peculiar blend of melancholy and savagery that permeates all of McCarthy's work. Frightening, depressing, bleak: don't miss it.
Synopses & Reviews
Set along a bloody frontier in our own time, this is Cormac McCarthy's first novel since Cities of the Plain completed his acclaimed, best-selling "Border Trilogy."
Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, instead finds men shot dead, a load of heroin, and over $2 million in cash. Packing the money out, he knows, will change everything. But only after two more men are murdered does a victim's burning car lead Sheriff Bell to the carnage out in the desert, and he soon realizes that Moss and his young wife are in desperate need of protection. One party in the failed transaction hires an ex-Special Forces officer to defend his interests against a mesmerizing freelancer, while on either side are men accustomed to spectacular violence and mayhem.
The pursuit stretches along and across the border, each participant seemingly determined to answer what one asks another: How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life? A harrowing story of a war that society wages on itself, an enduring meditation of the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies, and a novel of extraordinary resonance and power.
"Seven years after Cities of the Plain brought his acclaimed Border Trilogy to a close, McCarthy returns with a mesmerizing modern-day western. In 1980 southwest Texas, Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, stumbles across several dead men, a bunch of heroin and $2.4 million in cash. The bulk of the novel is a gripping man-on-the-run sequence relayed in terse, masterful prose as Moss, who's taken the money, tries to evade Wells, an ex-Special Forces agent employed by a powerful cartel, and Chigurh, an icy psychopathic murderer armed with a cattle gun and a dangerous philosophy of justice. Also concerned about Moss's whereabouts is Sheriff Bell, an aging lawman struggling with his sense that there's a new breed of man (embodied in Chigurh) whose destructive power he simply cannot match. In a series of thoughtful first-person passages interspersed throughout, Sheriff Bell laments the changing world, wrestles with an uncomfortable memory from his service in WWII and — a soft ray of light in a book so steeped in bloodshed — rejoices in the great good fortune of his marriage. While the action of the novel thrills, it's the sensitivity and wisdom of Sheriff Bell that makes the book a profound meditation on the battle between good and evil and the roles choice and chance play in the shaping of a life. Agent, Amanda Urban. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Shades of Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, and Faulkner resonate in McCarthy's blend of lyrical narrative, staccato dialogue, and action-packed scenes splattered with bullets and blood." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[N]asty fun...a darting movie-ready narrative that rips along like hell on wheels....Such sinister high hokum might be ridiculous if McCarthy didn't keep it moving faster than the reader can pause to think about it." Walter Kirn, The New York Times Book Review
"The pace is deliberately grim and airless — the book has little of the space and quiet that resonated beneath All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing. As a result, the murders are numbing rather than moving..." The Christian Science Monitor
"With his stripped-down Marlboro Man prose, Cormac McCarthy knows how to write a bang-up Western thriller. But when he strives for grand mythic effect in the second half...his taut, suspenseful story quickly heads south. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"[A]n entertaining novel from one of our best writers. Often seen as a fabulist and an engineer of dark morality tales, McCarthy is first a storyteller." The Washington Post
"No Country for Old Men would easily translate to the big screen so long as Bell's tedious, long-winded monologues were left on the cutting room floor — a move that would also have made this a considerably more persuasive novel." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
In this modern-day Western--his first novel since "Cities of the Plain" completed his acclaimed, bestselling Border Trilogy--McCarthy pens a harrowing story of a war that society wages on itself, an enduring meditation of the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies.
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 mornings headlines.
No Country for Old Men is a triumph.
About the Author
Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in 1933 and spent most of his childhood near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later studied at the University of Tennessee. In 1976 he moved to El Paso, Texas, where he lives today. McCarthy's fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West — the first four novels being set in Tennessee, the last three in the Southwest and Mexico. The Orchard Keeper (1965) won the Faulkner Award for a first novel; it was followed by Outer Dark (1968), Child of God (1973), Suttree (1979), Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award for fiction in 1992, and The Crossing and Cities of the Plain, which completes The Border Trilogy.
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