Hooker, September 22, 2011 (view all comments by Hooker)
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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john.hudson1, January 3, 2008 (view all comments by john.hudson1)
The power of mcCarthy's language is inspiring. Having read all of his novels I was constantly 'stopped in my tracks' and felt compelled to read out loud a phrase, a sentence or even a whole paragraph to whoever was within earshot. Yes, he sails very close to parody at times and I didn't always understand what he meant to say, but then there are a million things which are incomprehensible but inspirational - and that is NOT a religious allusion. An English writer could never accomplish what he does. Is he the literary love child of Springsteen and Dylan Thomas? He can certainly do with words what some artists have done with music and images. Hope he's not a Republican/Tory.
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Alfred A. Knopf -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.)
"Review A Day"
by Ira Boudway, Salon.com,
"[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." (read the entire Salon.com review)
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"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."
by Library Journal,
"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..."
by The Washington Post,
"[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."
by Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times,
"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."
by Dallas Morning News,
"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."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"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)"
by Houston Chronicle,
"[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..."
by Hartford Courant,
"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."
by Wall St. Journal,
"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?"
by Walter Kirn, The New York Times Book 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."
by St. Petersburg Times,
"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."
by Kansas City Star,
"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."
by Denver Post,
"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."
by The Christian Science Monitor,
"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..."
by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
"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."
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.
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