Book 68 – No Country For Old Men

Book – No Country For Old Men
Author – Cormac McCarthy
Year – 2005
Genre – Fiction

Cormac McCarthy is generally considered to be one of the greatest American writers of our time.  With books such as this and The Road he is held with high regard across the Atlantic, and – possibly off of the back of the Oscar winning film adaptation of this book – is becoming increasingly well read over here as well.

No Country For Old Men is very American.  It tells the story of a Vietnam war veteran who finds a caseload of drug money and sets off on the run.  Add into the mix a grizzled sheriff, a bunch of Mexican drug runners, a psychopathic Native American (at least in my eyes, although I can’t remember a passage describing his ethnicity) and a teenaged wife, and we have all of the stereotypes of Texan America.

The book is tough to get into.  McCarthy writes with no speech marks, and usually without apostrophes – although he does use them sometimes, possibly just to prove to us that he actually doesn’t know the apostrophe rules – and this is a little disconcerting to start with.  However, once you do get used to it, it doesn’t always help you to follow what’s going on particularly well.

Things happen when you don’t expect them to, trying to keep up with who is who – particularly during conversations – is difficult, and investing emotionally in many of the characters is tough.  It also committed one of my cardinal sins of not describing one of the leads till around page 250, when I already had a different picture in my mind.  It is a good job that the story itself is pretty exciting, because otherwise I don’t know how well my interest would have lasted.

Bob reviewed this book pretty early on in his challenge and he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit (he is a much harder marker than me – in fact I think this is the first time we have read the same book and he has given it a higher mark), but for me, I couldn’t quite see what the hype was.  I am glad I read something of his, but I am not positive I would be rushing out to grab another.


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