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No Country for Old Men easily a book for most men

  • Oct 10, 2005
Pros: Readability, depth of character

Cons: Sparser than his normal style

The Bottom Line: A faster read than most other McCarthy novels, still interesting and fun, but without the usual McCarthy style.

The style of No Country For Old Men is a significant departure from the other McCarthy novels I have read. For Delillo fans, it is like the shift from Underworld to The Hand Artist or Cosmopolis. In both cases, the author's brilliance is evident, but the style that made them what they are is all but missing.

The main character in No Country For Old Men responds like this to the comment that a particular situation is a mess: "It will do until a real mess comes along." That is the idea I get for this novel--it will do until a better one comes along.

The story is actually pretty simple. An otherwise honest man stumbles on some drug money left at the site of a minor massacre; he decides to take the money and this starts a pretty predictable string of events. He runs and others chase him. On this armiture, McCarthy gives us back back stories for the main characters and some tantalizing tidbits about other major characters whom he keeps shrouded in the darkness created by a lack of information. I cannot say more without giving away too much of the plot--though this is not really a plot driven novel.

McCarthy's earlier novels are Faulknerian. They contain large sections of introspection or observation with a focus on the right and many words necessary to paint the picture fully and artfully. This is what turns many off of authors like Faulkner and McCarthy, but it is what draws others to them.

No Country For Old Men is far more sparse than all but perhaps Child of God. Rather than comparing it to Faulkner (though there are moments of As I Lay Dying), the style is much closer to Hemingway. Where in earlier novels McCarthy would spend his time on the lay of the land or the internal reflections of his character, he spends the time on a step by step recording of actions. It is said that if you read Hemingway, you have an instruction manual for catching, cleaning, gutting, cooking, and eating river fish. No Country For Old Men gives you a step by step manual for hiding money, running from hunters, skirting the law.

As in earlier novels, however, McCarthy shows that he cares deeply for the characters that populate this novel. There is large amounts of violence, but it neither rises to the level of Blood Meridian nor to the microscopic fascination of that extremely violent work.

The fact that he can depart so markedly from his normal style but still create a work that is enjoyable shows McCarthy as one of the best novelists this country has produced.

If you read McCarthy for his similarities to Faulkner and his mind-stretching vocabulary, then No Country For Old Men will be a little disappointing. If you haven't read McCarthy because of the above, then No Country For Old Men is a fantastic entre into the work of this important artist.

Reviews for other McCarthy novels
All The Pretty Horses
Blood Meridian
The Orchard Keeper

The Road


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More No Country for Old Men (book) reviews
review by . December 11, 2007
Am I gone soft, rating three of the last four books I've read as classics? Well I think not, because of the widely divergent subjects: Les Miserables, Moneyball, and No Country for Old Men, about as disparate as any three books could be. But, as I said in reviewing Moneyball, don't prejudge a book by its subject. And the subjects of these books are only matched by the ability of the authors to write superbly about them.    McCarthy writes this spare, tense novel in short sentences, …
review by . June 03, 2010
   Cormac McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men" is like an update/hybrid of both the thriller and western genres.   It's a relentless, merciless story of a man who discovers and absconds with a cache of drug money (Llewelyn), a hired killer who will stop at nothing to track him down (Chigurh), and an aging sheriff (Bell) who can't understand the motivations driving this younger generation.      McCarthy's spare prose creates claustrophobic scenes for …
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
A suspense-ridden page turner by one of America's most timeless authors.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
A dark and gruesome look at the power and dangers of greed.
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
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review by . October 29, 2008
No Country For Old Men
'No Country For Old Men' starts fast, with a violent murder of a young deputy by a chained prisoner. Then it switches to Llewelyn Moss, who's out hunting antelope when he stumbles across three trucks and multiple dead men in the middle of nowhere. In the back of one truck is Mexican brown heroin, in the back of another two million dollars in a case. Moss takes the money and heads home, but after waking up in the middle of the night decides to go back to the scene. Big mistake, this time he's not …
review by . February 06, 2006
Years back, Kirk Douglas starred in a dark masterpiece called "Lonely Are The Brave." A cowboy was living out the old code in a modern era. The Dalton Trumbull screenplay and Douglas's performance left me sad for the passing of an age.     Cormac McCarthy evokes this passing of ages theme in "No Country For Old Men."     Llewelyn Moss, a welder from small-town nowhere is out hunting antelope when he comes across a modern day massacre. No circled wagons here. …
review by . August 13, 2005
Like all of the McCarthy works I've read, this is a suberbly written, raw and stunningly violent novel. It is also, unlike especially his masterpiece Blood Meridian, a quick and easy (which does not mean comfortable or comforting) read: a thriller with a rigorous plot and pace.     I won't repeat details that have already been included in other reviews, but did think one point worth mentioning that I haven't seen in the other reviews. One feature of this novel that stands out …
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Starred Review. Seven years afterCities of the Plainbrought 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.
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ISBN-10: 0375406778
ISBN-13: 978-0375406775
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Knopf
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