13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark
This is a superbly written book with characters that have lives tangibly of their own making. Although a couple of twists are not clearly plotted the story resolves as it should, which may disappoint thrill seekers - but then this book is in part about them and what happens once they crossover into the darkness (for whatever reason) where death reigns supreme. As always I...
Published on 24 Feb 2008 by Big A
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Trying to make sense of the world
For me this novel was only superficially a thriller: the violent, bleak plot which other reviewers have outlined is punctuated by the narrator's thoughts on the modern US, and by extension the world, and his feeling of dislocation from it. I think it is from this theme that the novel takes its title. He is, in the opinion of another character, a 'hick sherriff, from a...
Published on 15 Jan 2008 by patashnik
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars no fun for old men,
I had to read a few reviews before i set down to write one for a very good reason -i wanted to know If I was the only one who didnt know what happened.
Spoilers here - beware.
I will be the first to admit I have been reading way to many kids books of late- but I am fairly well read and enjoy a challenging read.However after a very slow start - I started to get into the meat of the piece. I found the characters enjoyable If a bit stupid in there actions. I mean if you find 2.4 million and you intend to keep it- you high tail as far from your hometown as you can and leave a blur behind your tail - you do not dawdle on the outskirts of the state and make life hard for yourself.
Then when i finally think Im getting to grips with his writing style the author starts making leaps in narrative with no explanation of what has just occured - He invests your time with the character and then drops him off the page. I am sure their is deeper reason for this but Im not studying the book at school so I dont want to over analyse his symbolic slaughter of everything that moves.
And the preachy sheriff - much too preachy and i have no idea what his job involved he just seemed to appear at murder scenes and did a little home spinning on the philosphy of we have all gone to hell in a hand basket kind. Well excuse me but i do not own a gun and if you want to stop folks being shot there's your first order of business.
Mildly enjoyable - slightly confusing and i will not be reaching for the authors back catologue - if you want a great fun read set in the mid west try Stone Junction - its great.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My book of the year.,
I loved this book. I enjoyed it so much that I didn`t see the movie. This is America`s top modern author, no question. He just gets better.He understands the human condition when set against a bleak or rugged backcloth, he writes so well.
13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An artistic and commercial triumph,
That is no country for old men. The young
in one another's arms, birds in the trees
--Those dying generations--at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
--the opening stanza of "Sailing to Byzantium" by William Butler Yeats
The theme of Yeats' poem is the impermanence of this world, and so he set sail "To the holy city of Byzantium" where things are made of more permanent stuff such "as Grecian goldsmiths make" and where things are eternal like ideas.
But what has this to do with Cormac McCarthy's mesmerizing and seductive narrative?
Well, perhaps not as much as McCarthy thought when he came up with the title or when he began his tale. One thing is clear, the dusty violence of the border towns of West Texas about which he writes resemble more "the mackerel-crowded seas" than the holy city of Byzantium, and the "sensual music" is the sound of bullet hitting bone from those dying generations at their song.
The novel is a triumph, both artistically and commercially for the gifted Mr. McCarthy, one of many. What I think aspiring novelists can learn from this is that the power of voice, story and character easily triumphs over any kind of defect that might exist in technique or composition. McCarthy makes his own artistic rules as spins out his tales like shining dimes shimmering across a waxed counter--or dimes thrown in the air to land on heads or tails to decide if you live or die, which is what happens to a couple of the characters in this tale.
Anton Chigurh is the ironically triumphant character in the novel, with the passably human Llewelyn Moss his counterpoint and foil. Chigurh is a psychopath with a code: you harm, insult or even inconvenience me and you die. (Maybe sometimes just for sport I'll flip a coin and if you call it right I'll let you live.) Moss is a fated character who made one fatal error. He's tough and tenacious but a bit out of his league versus Chigurh who is something like the terminator made flesh. All behave like driven animals with the exception of Sheriff Bell who is reflective and philosophic. He is the old man who learns that this is no longer the country for him.
The plot centers around a dope drop in the semi-desert gone bad that Moss stumbles onto some time after the shooting has stopped. Bodies everywhere. Bullet holes in vehicles, blood, etc. And one guy still alive begging for agua. I aint got no water, Moss tells him. Shrewd and with an eye to gaining something big, he's thinking about other things, like where's the money? He follows the bloody trail of someone carrying something heavy and finds him and it. It's a carrying case full of used hundred dollar bills.
He takes the case and heads home to his wife and makes love and contemplates his good fortune. But there is something amiss. In the middle of the night he returns to the scene, and it is here that McCarthy begins to allow the plot to get a little shabby and the logic to go south. Why does he return? He says, "Somethin I forgot to do." Apparently what he forgot to do is give the dying Mexican some water. Funny thing about that. It's 12 hours later at one o'clock in the morning when remembers this and its another hour and fifteen before he reaches the Mexican who is now freshly dead with what appears to be a brand new bullet hole in his forehead.
When reading this I thought Moss had returned possibly to get the heroin or maybe to shoot the Mexican who might be able to identify him. But no, Moss's fatal flaw is his kindness.
His kindness! I guess he didn't realize that bringing the man who had been bleeding for a day or two some water wasn't really going to help. If he wanted to help he could have dialed 911.
There are some other minor plot problems and loose ends, but they really don't matter. What matters is McCarthy's brilliant prose, the flawless dialogue, the masterful sketches of the land, and especially his lean narrative that makes the action and the characters vivid and indelible.
By the way, the Coen brothers of Fargo (1996) movie fame, violence meisters themselves, whose first film, Blood Simple (1984), was set in Texas, have made a film adapted from McCarthy's novel set for release August 7, 2007. It will star Josh Brolin as Moss, Woody Harrelson as Wells, Tommy Lee Jones as Bell, and Javier Bardem as Chigurh. It should be a doosie. The screenplay must have been easy to write since McCarthy's novel is so very visual and so full of clever stuff. Coen and Coen will love Chigurh's way of opening doors and taking people out by laying a palm on their foreheads. (Read the novel. You'll see what I mean.) It will be interesting to see how true the movie is to the novel.
I have to say I don't like the fact that one of our most successful and brilliant novelists is a master of violence. Is it an accident that the public has rewarded him, or is it the case that he is a product of his times and rides the Zeitgeist? We are living in an age of escalating violence and perhaps that is reflected in our literature.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Piece of Work,
I was highly satisfied with this book. First item from McCarthy's collection i have read, undoubtedly won't be the last. Very intriguing, if somewhat complicated use of language in parts. Would definately recommend reading.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars,
This review is from: No Country for Old Men (Kindle Edition)
Superb, will definatel re-read this one
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars,
Item arrived promptly and as described.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy,
If you've seen the movie then you know what this is about. The film is close to the book but there's more to it in the text. At least when you read it you get a better feel for the main character (Sheriff Bell) and the end makes more sense (when I saw the film there was a collective groan in the cinema).
This is a classic Western in modern form. Sheriff Bell wears the white hat, Chigurgh wears the black hat and Moss is the ordinary guy. If this had been written in the old days the ordinary guy (maybe played by someone like Henry Fonda) would have won out. But it isn't quite like that. It's also allegorical. Chigurgh represents all the bad stuff in the world wrapped up in human form. He's Yul Brynner's gunslinger from Westworld who philosophises before killing his victims.
Typical McCarthy strengths with great dialogue and scenery and that simplicity he does so well.
Don't expect a happy ending though.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing,
This review is from: No Country for Old Men (Hardcover)
If you're a fan of McCarthy's earlier work (especially the Border Crossing trilogy), you might not like this one too much. Although it's a real page turner, the characters are rather thin and the ending unsatisfactory. McCarthy's talent has always been that he doesn't let his characters philosophise too much, but in this book he pulls out all the stops and lets the sheriff talk for ever. Although the villian is truly one of the best baddies of all time, the lead character is a bit too flat for me. I really wanted to see the final confrontation between them, but instead McCarthy completely avoids it. I shall go back and read All the Pretty Horses or Blood Meridian for his best work.
9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK story but badly written,
'No Country For Old Men' by Cormac McCarthy begins when Llewlyn Moss is out hunting when he comes across the scene of a drug deal gone wrong where several bodies have been shot to death. At the scene he finds a briefcase containing about 2.4 million dollars. He then makes the decision of taking it and going on the run which leads him into a whole world of trouble. Also an escaped prisoner and ruthless murderer Anton Chigurh is on the loose and is also after the money, killing anybody who gets in his way. Sherriff Bell is on the case in one of the most dangerous of his life.
I missed the film when it was at the cinema, so thought I'd give the book a go before getting the DVD when it comes out and to be honest, I wasn't really that overly impressed with it. The story is ok, but nothing that exciting or that special. There's plenty of better crime thrillers out there. The character of Chigurh is very ruthless and feels undoubtedly evil, killing anyone for the sake of his own twisted reasoning. Moss is a fairly average guy who comes across his fortune and goes for it, not realising what danger he is bringing upon himself and his wife in the process. By halfway through he becomes so arrogant and unlikeable though that I hoped Chigurh would hurry up and catch him so he'd shut up. Sherriff Bell is a good lead character, giving his opinions on the change in the levels of crime in America over the years he's been sherriff and some of the shocking things he has experienced between the chapters.
The writing style is awful with lots of Texan drawl and slang and having no speech marks in the dialogue gets a bit confusing sometimes. I'm not sure if it is just pure laziness or arrogance on the part of McCarthy with this but it did really get on my nerves after a while as it can become difficult to decipher the dialogue from the rest. And how many times can an author write "...and he took off his books and walked in sockfeet..." in one novel?! In this book - a hell of a lot of times that it got to the stage that it became ridiculous.
I can only guess that the movie was so well credited due to the Coens rather than the actual story, as this really isn't much more than average. It is fairly easy to read and I flew through the whole book in just over 3 hours (in one sitting), but can't imagine that it would have kept me as gripped if I'd have been reading it in chunks. There's not a great deal of twists and the outcome of the whole story is predictable. I'm a bit of a Coen fan so will still watch the film, but don't think I'll be reading another book by McCarthy again, especially if his writing style is the same in his other novels as it is in this. Overall this is a pretty disappointing story but still entertaining read while it last by a truly dreadful writer. If the film is as good as everyone says it is, I'd probably just watch that instead.
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No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (Paperback - 1 Jan 2010)