Patrick McCoy's Reviews > No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
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Sep 27, 11

bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, crime-noir

The publication of a new Cormac McCarthy novel is a literary event. McCarthy is probably my favorite contemporary American writer these days and while No Country For Old Men is not among his best, it is an entertaining read. The novel opens with a vivid and brutal scene where the villain Chigurah escapes from a jail. After reading that passage I could see the films rights being signed in some Motion Picture boardroom. The mythic violence that sweeps through a small Texas town and changes the lives of all of those who come in contact with it, directly are changed forever. The manifestation of this violence and the nature of evil itself are embodied in the person of Chigurah, who is reminiscent of another larger than life villain, Judge Holden from Blood Meridian-his masterpiece. I can’t help but see similarities between this novel and Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers, in which both stories we have some innocents getting caught up in a drug deal gone bad in which some very bad people try to recover the lost goods. Both echo Vietnam, in Stone’s book; the heroin is smuggled in from Vietnam. McCarthy’s version is haunted by Vietnam, in that Chigurah and his prey Llewelyn are both Vietnam vets. I think McCarthy is also trying to make a statement about the violence that is part of this country hence the title. It is something that defines and haunts this country in archetypal fashion. McCarthy channels Faulkner when he has his seemingly simple characters make high falutin’ philosophical musings, but he is also a master of the dialogue of the south as well. I wouldn’t put this book among his best (Blood Meridian and Sutree), but even minor McCarthy is better than 90% of what is being written these days. I look forward to his next output as well.
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