Kenyon's Reviews > No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
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Dec 04, 07

Recommended for: all friends
Read in November, 2007

I wrote a review of this for the Sackets Harbor Gazette!
If you think that the western novel genre died with Louis L’Amour. Think again. Cormac McCarthy has been writing them after a fashion for a while with a style all his own and a voice as stark and certain as the plains of Texas he often describes. No Country for Old Men, first published in 2005 and recently brought out in paperback as a movie tie-in, is a story of duty, treachery, loyalty, and evil; of a decision to act made by instinct the consequences of which cannot be undone, ignored, or escaped especially by the three characters central to the novel’s plot. It’s also a story of our times and other times.

Set 1980 in the vastness of west Texas and its small towns, a Vietnam veteran out on an early morning hunt discovers from a distance, the deadly mayhem of a drug deal that had imploded with greed. This man, Moss, makes a decision that will set him on a path to converge with a diabolically sinister man named Chigurh who is out to square, rather than clean up, the drug deal mess and the local sheriff, Sheriff Bell, a longtime peace officer who wishes to save Moss from a fate that the sheriff comes to believe cannot be altered. As Sheriff Bell goes about his duty, the author takes the reader into the Sheriff’s confidence using first person narration to convey the weariness and confusion the sheriff has suddenly become aware he feels for the way the world has come to work, and the sense of frustration he has when he begins to reason that the value system that has served him so well no longer can be applied.

This reviewer found the whole of No Country for Old Men, as with many excellent books, to be greater than the sum of its parts. As a fast paced action tale of the old-fashioned page-turner variety, it will not disappoint the reader willingly enthralled by suspense and a fine tuned sense of apprehension. For the reader with an ear for, and appreciation of, the vernacular, rhythm, and speech patterns of the West Texas version of the English language that seems to be defined by the topography and weather as well as the drawl of its practitioners, this will be a book in which to revel. And lastly, there is a moral story here that reduces good and evil to the most, not the least, common denominator, and asks the reader to reflect, along with Sheriff Bell, on how the values that we count on to get by don’t necessarily add up any longer. Cormac McCarthy’s gift lies with interleaving these layers he creates into a fascinating story.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by rachel (new)

rachel did you see the film yet?


Kenyon The film hasn't played locally yet!!


Benjamin Dancer That sheriff Bell was something, wasn't he?


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