Saturday, November 24, 2007

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

I love a gritty, male voice. Cormac's voice carries the story. It is much more than a traditional cat-and-mouse story. The sheriff opens with: I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville. One and only one. My arrest and my testimony. How can you not continue reading? I couldn't. I finished in two sittings.

We begin in the point-of-view of the sheriff, who waxes philosophical throughout the book. His philosophy? That it takes very little to govern good people. The bad people, they can't be governed at all. He compares the crimes of today to the crimes of yesteryear. It is a story about the degradation of the soul.

The rest of the book is written in third person--sympathetic to one character at a time. The past tense reads like present tense. Cormac puts us in the shoes of the different characters, and gives us a pair of binoculars to pan the scenery. This particular scene is typical of that style of writing: He stood there looking out across the desert. So quiet. Low hum of wind in the wires. High bloodweeds along the road. Wiregrass and sacahuista. Beyond in the stone arroyos the tracks of dragons. The sentences are stripped to their essentials. There are no transitions between scenes. You just have to keep up.

The sheriff says at the end of the book: I think I know where we're headed. We're bein bought with our own money. And it aint just the drugs. There is fortunes bein accumulated out there that they dont nobody even know about. What do you think is goin to come of that money? Money that can buy whole countries. It done has.

I rate this excellent!


Church Lady said...

Blogmaster, I don't know how to do labels. :-( I'm sorry.

I am so enjoying reading everyone's reviews!! This blog is a great idea!

moonrat said...

i gotcha, CL.

"degradation of the soul." whoo-ee! strong stuff. i heard the movie is also excellent, which poses a problem--do i try to read the book so it doesn't ruin the movie, but then end up missing the movie in theaters? tough call.

angelle's favorite book is The Road, which she liked even better than No Country. have you read that one too, by chance?

Church Lady said...

OOO! Great question!
My (very humble opinion) is that The Road was written better-the craft was better. It felt like I stopped more often to savor a sentence or paragraph.
Oh, I was going to say I like No Country better. But they're both awesome books.

What bothers me about The Road is that I suspect Cormac changed the ending because of pressure from a publisher. It seems too optimistic, now that I've read this book. Cormac does not pull out the rosy-colored glasses. I think The Road should've ended more ambiguously, if not darkly. I base this on nothing other than a gut feeling. I'd be interested to know what others thought!

angelle said...

one day i should post about the road on here, but anyway.

i love mccarthy's voice. it's so wonderful.

i want to watch the movie for no country... heard it's excellent. this book was great, but i liked the road much much more. speaking of the end of the road though, i took this class with some ppl discussing the road, and some people actually look at the end of the road as very bleak. it's so open-ended, in a way, because you just don't know what's going to happen, he doesn't just "fade into the sunset" - he's going off with people, good or bad, you don't know. what his future holds, you don't know. and that last section with the fish (so beautiful)? depending on how you look at it, it's either optimistic or completely bleak. i think that's the beauty of the book -- different people take completely different views of the same book, because they bring their own personal outlook on life into it.

anyway. back to no country, i thought this book was really very good, though i did get lost sometimes.

Trée said...

As a father, I loved The Road as seen as a love story between father and son, so the ending, a bit uplifting for a Cormac novel, didn't bother me. My favorite scene, again read as a father with a son about that age, is where the son knows his father is not drinking hot chocolate. No one else writes quite like Cormac. Blood Meridian, in places, is as good as anything I've read. The Road, as a whole, is brilliant, as a love story. No Country for Old Men, well, I need to read it. :-D