Velvetink's Reviews > No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
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Apr 27, 2011

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bookshelves: fiction, western, 2011-read
Read from April 30 to May 03, 2011

Just adding a link;

It's a modern day shoot-em-up with bad ass Mexican drug dealers in Texas. What can I say?. What else do you need to know?. I mainly read it after reading McCarthy's "The Road" that everyone (well nearly everyone) seems to be falling over themselves in saying it's the greatest thing in literature since sliced bread - or words to that effect. Meh. While reading "The Road" I kept getting the feeling that it was either a very poor translation or a decent translation of a poorly written story from someone who didn't have a very large vocabulary. "The Road" to me read like a quickly drafted film script. While the gist of the story had real horror and created a tension the words were flat and deadpan describing mere actions. "He picked the cup up and sipped it". "He put the cup down again". That kind of thing. One step after another and the resolution was no resolution in my mind either. I couldn't believe that people were raving about "The Road" and this McCarthy guy. He's no Dostoevsky that's for sure. Doesn't even come close and he needs seriously to consider finding a better editor...typos and spelling mistakes abound galore.

So back to "No Country for Old Men". In a way it was mildly addictive in that I wanted to find out what Moss would do with the money and how he would end up. Dead obviously since it's a shoot-em-up but how that pans out you'll have to read it. Compared to "The Road" it follows a more traditional genre path - the Western, and doesn't really disappoint one too much - it's a fast read and the violence if you like that kind of thing is there in spades. It is nicely interspersed with the old county sheriff Bell, narrating his thoughts and musing on the meaning of life and what the world has come to. Maybe I am turning into an old codger too because I sure liked Bell & his philosophies a whole lot better than Moss and the hitman Chigurh and the way he soullessly operated his AK-47.

There wasn't too much of "The Road" one-step-in-front-of-the-other type of writing in "No Country for Old Men" but it was there and it annoyed me. I don't think you should be aware of the actual writing if it's good writing. It should flow. The thing that totally annoyed me was McCarthy's repetitive bad habit of writing "he drug it across the road". It's "dragged" or "drag". He wrote "drug" for "drag" in "The Road" too. Don't go and tell me he was writing it as the way some folk with Texan accents say it because that doesn't make sense. I am sure there are Texans who know what the word "drug" is and don't confuse it with "drag".

Sheriff Bell reckoned the world started going wrong when folk stopped saying "Sir and Mam". I say it started when people started spelling words like "drag" as "drug".

So it's 3 stars from me for being a mild entertainment and only by the inclusion and grace of Sheriff Bell's thoughts. Really it should be 2. I mean what's all the whoopla about McCarthy.? I guess he's just writing for the lowest common denominator.

Library borrow;
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Reading Progress

05/01/2011 page 97
30.0% "I took this out to read because I was so disappointed with The Road - well with all the hype about McCarthy - I thought that The Road was poorly written."
04/20/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-16)

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message 16: by K.D. (new) - added it

K.D. Absolutely Nice review, V!

Velvetink Thanks K.D.

message 14: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I obviously haven't been paying enough attention, if you slipped this review through without me noticing.
I haven't read either book yet, but this review is a totally legitimate, iconoclastic and persuasive demolition job.
I'll still read them though, and when I come across the word "drug", I'll think of you and say "v was right".
Just say no to drug.

message 13: by Velvetink (last edited May 05, 2011 11:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Velvetink Oh Ian, I'm probably too hard on "The Road". It is a highly emotional and fear producing story. I just don't think it's written very well / think it's got bound up in the movie hype and that's why everyone thinks it's amazing.Obviously McCarthy is clever to hook into the few methods that suck people in/his writing is like an advertising formula but it's not "literature".

message 12: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye All the hype about the movie put me off seeing it (yet), but I'm still open-minded (and well-advised) about the book.

Velvetink Ian wrote: "All the hype about the movie put me off seeing it (yet), but I'm still open-minded (and well-advised) about the book."

I'm sure the movie is probably highly watchable. It translates better I think visually.

Maxym Karpovets I like your review, but I think this text a qiute masterly written. I don't know about the original language (cause I read the translated one), but the main ideas are so great! I clear remember how I was impressed by reading The Road and couldn't sleep untill the novel was ended. At the same time, I understand your thoughts that it is a highly emotional and fear producing story and agree sometimes hardly to make one's way through this highly electrified text ;)

message 9: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Hi, Maxym, which language did you read it in? Ukrainian?
V, you should give the translation a go.

Velvetink Maxym wrote: "I like your review, but I think this text a qiute masterly written. I don't know about the original language (cause I read the translated one), but the main ideas are so great! I clear remember how..."

Hi Maxym, Thanks! I think perhaps I was expecting a different style of writing in "The Road", it is perfect for a film script but I was generally disappointed I think I expected more development of dialogue and character thoughts. While I was unhappy with the writing style, the plot and harrowing ordeal of their trying to survive did have me on the edge of my seat. The idea that man would resort to cannibalism after a major disaster was frightening.

Velvetink Ian wrote:
V, you should give the translation a go."

Ian I admire your confidence in me! however while I know a few words to speak in Russian my ability with the Cyrillic alphabet is very poor let alone the Ukraine variation. ;)

Maxym Karpovets Ian wrote: "Hi, Maxym, which language did you read it in? Ukrainian?
V, you should give the translation a go."

Hi, Ian! I only read All the Pretty Horses in English and the othes in Russian. We haven't any translation in Ukrainian :( The trasnlations aren't so bad, but I feel that there're lot of nuances which I couldn't find out without knowing the cultural background or some special dialects of original (west-american?) language. Still, I do really like the beat of style in All the Pretty Horses.

message 5: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Hi, Maxym, do you mind if I ask whether Russian was a language that was compulsory to learn at school?
Is it still compulsory or taught at school?

Maxym Karpovets Ian, I'm from Western Ukraine and there is no any forced guidelines for learning Russian. We speak and mostly read in Ukrainian, but I had some lessons of Russian in school (I don't know if they're still present). Per contra, most people from Eastern Ukraine learn Russian, especially now when the power in Ukrainian goverment is strongly oriented into Russian type of existence.

message 3: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye дякую

Stephen big words do not produce big emotions. McCarthy knows exactly what he is doing with his writing. Simplicity is key in some of his works.

Larry Mills I don't know what translation you read "The Road" in, but translations always miss things.(I am working on an English translation of a Marcel Proust novel, and I looked up and read a little from another translation and there is more than a bit of difference in the prose flow.) I believe the prose of "The Road" is very deliberate. It's bleak, dark, and stripped very bare. The world has no beauty and neither does the writing. Things like "He picked up the cup. He put it down." Daily life is a chore, there is no joy or happiness or beautiful sunrises even. I believe the prose purposefully reflects this and sets the tone much better than flowery description every could.

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