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No Country for Old Menby Cormac McCarthy
"[A] taut thriller that not only holds, but also rewards, close attention....'There's no such thing as life without bloodshed,' McCarthy said 13 years ago in a rare interview. And like his character Moss, McCarthy can't help peeking. The constant question underlying his fiction is how we are to live on in the face of this knowledge." Ira Boudway, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
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)
"In his latest novel, McCarthy stumbles headlong into self-parody....McCarthy lays out his rancorous worldview with all the nuance and subtlety of conservative talk radio....A made-for-television melodrama filled with guns and muscle cars..." Library Journal
"[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
"Mr. McCarthy's story is so exquisitely harrowing that the reader can forget to breathe. But it's Sheriff Bell's private meditations interspersed between the chapters that give it its heft and soul." Dallas Morning News
"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] heated story that brands the reader's mind as if seared by a knife heated upon campfire flames. [McCarthy] is nothing less than our greatest living writer, and this is a novel that must be read and remembered..." Houston Chronicle
"You will not be able to put it down — the storytelling is thrilling and terrifying. But you will come away from the reading experience with something more than Grisham or Crichton or any other genre writer can provide — a look into the darkest places of the human heart." Hartford Courant
"Mr. McCarthy is smart to keep this book short and swift. After all, one can only sit through so many...speeches before retreating into numbness. But the question remains: Should a McCarthy novel be this easy to read?" Wall St. Journal
"[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
"No plot summary will do this novel justice. There is plenty of action. Readers may need a flow chart to keep track, but the mystery is more than enough to keep any reader panting. Some of the spare, swift dialog is profound and some is wonderfully comic." St. Petersburg Times
"While No Country for Old Men surely will be welcomed as a worthy addition to border literature, it can't compete with the vast claim previous McCarthy novels have staked in that rapidly expanding territory." Kansas City Star
"Of course two-thirds of a great book is more than we'll ever expect of most writers, but with McCarthy we've learned to set the bar higher, and by that standard No Country for Old Men, while riveting for much of its length, in the end falls short." Denver Post
"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
"Despite McCarthy's trademark laconic, well-tuned style, the novel reads much like any number of crime thrillers now on the market....What's missing are the depth and nuances of emotion found in McCarthy's trilogy, particularly All The Pretty Horses." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Set in our own time along the bloody frontier between Texas and Mexico, this is Cormac McCarthys 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 more than $2 million in cash. Packing the money out, he knows, will change everything. But only after two more men are murdered does a victims burning car lead Sheriff Bell to the carnage out in the desert, and he soon realizes how desperately Moss and his young wife need 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 up and down 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 is waging on itself, and an enduring meditation on the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies, No Country for Old Men is a novel of extraordinary resonance and power.
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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