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Book Name: No Country for Old Men

Author: Cormac McCarthy

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Overall Rating: (4.2/5) View all reviews (total 190 reviews)
Description

Starred Review. Seven years afterCities of the Plainbrought his acclaimed Border Trilogy to a close, McCarthy returns with a mesmerizing modern-day western. In 1980 southwest Texas, Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, stumbles across several dead men, a bunch of heroin and $2.4 million in cash. The bulk of the novel is a gripping man-on-the-run sequence relayed in terse, masterful prose as Moss, who's taken the money, tries to evade Wells, an ex–Special Forces agent employed by a powerful cartel, and Chigurh, an icy psychopathic murderer armed with a cattle gun and a dangerous philosophy of justice. Also concerned about Moss's whereabouts is Sheriff Bell, an aging lawman struggling with his sense that there's a new breed of man (embodied in Chigurh) whose destructive power he simply cannot match. In a series of thoughtful first-person passages interspersed throughout, Sheriff Bell laments the changing world, wrestles with an uncomfortable memory from his service in WWII and—a soft ray of light in a book so steeped in bloodshed—rejoices in the great good fortune of his marriage. While the action of the novel thrills, it's the sensitivity and wisdom of Sheriff Bell that makes the book a profound meditation on the battle between good and evil and the roles choice and chance play in the shaping of a life.Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Reviews

A brutal, thrilling chase novel

by Adam Craig
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthy's novel is one of those few books where you finish it and ask yourself, "Well what does it all mean?" And that question isn't necessarily asked in a bad way. You see, the great thing about this novel is the fact that it is an amazing read in two different ways: as a chase/action novel it is top-notch, but beneath all the brutal violence, there is a very deep message hidden within the characters' dialog and actions.The novel opens with the villain, Anton Chigurh, brutally murdering a sheriff's deputy. Thereby throwing the reader in the middle of the carnage with no forewarning, and no time to prepare. We then get introduced to Llewelyn Moss, who while hunting antelope one day, innocently stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad. Amid all the shot-up bodies and vehicles, Moss finds a bag holding 2.4 million dollars, and a whole lot of heroin. Moss takes the cash and hightails it outta there, back to his young, loving, questioning wife. For some reason later that night, Moss deems it necessary to return to the site, where he is discovered. This sets off the rest of the book's lightning pace. Moss is on the run from the Mexican drug dealers, the law in Texas, and a ruthless headhunter (Chigurh). The local Texas sheriff, Bell, sets out to try to find Moss, if only to help him, and all the parties involved start out on a disastrous crash course toward their meetings with each other.There are so many parts to this novel, that it is tough to say that I really know everything McCarthy was trying to say. It really is a book that is worth another read, or maybe a couple more. Interspersed throughout the novel are seemingly non-diegetic monologues by Sheriff Bell, where he seems to be speaking to the reader directly. These monologues, along with the quick dialog, seem to be McCarthy's main method of speaking to the reader about what his novel means. The characters in the novel inhabit a world of ruthless violence and complete lack of compassion or reason. Don't get too attached to any character throughout the novel, because characters are killed of without remorse continually. Sheriff Bell's monologue's are very reflective of a life spent in this world, and a man who is questioning everything in his old age. Amid all the senseless violence, Sheriff Bell still manages to maintain a somewhat normal life. His short but sweet interactions with his wife throughout the book appear to help him maintain his grip on reality, and not let his surroundings drag him down to Hell along with most of his companions. In fact, the female characters in the novel are, generally, the best "people," at least in the fact that they wear their emotions on their sleeve, and don't judge every situation based on pure, ruthless, cold calculations. Llewelyn's wife, Bell's wife, and the young, naive hitchhiker picked up by Moss 2/3 of the way through the book are the few moments in the book where we get to experience some real human interaction and real human feelings. One also gets the feeling, at least from the title, that it is book about the generational gap in the country, and how our country has changed over recent decades. Sheriff Bell, his wife, and Moss's mother-in-law, the three older characters, are all world-weary, somewhat embittered characters who just wonder where in the world the country they grew up in went to.Anyway, I'm sure that the novel goes much, much deeper than what I got out of it, but it isn't very often that a novel can work so well on two different levels like this book does. We can only hope that the film version by the Coen Brothers does this great novel justice...


Good but Not Great

by Addison Dewitt "I'm nobody's fool."
(3/5)

A long-time reader of McCarthy (everything he's written) I was excited to see his long-awaited novel hit the shelves. Less so after getting past chapter three... and then my spirit waned dolefully as I plodded toward the end. Don't get me wrong, it's a good book and very entertaining, but he's already written his finest works and this is just another nice moment in the gradual burn down of a very bright flame. Great characters are sprinkled in with half-drawn people, something that I find irritating, especially when the sketched play such supportive roles. Rather than give you a play-by-play (why do reviewers here think they need to do a book report? We want your REVIEW, not a badly written synopsis of the book! That's what book jackets are for!) I'll just say that the book ends with an open door, leaving room for the main bad guy to appear yet again in future works. A fizzler rather than a banger. Perhaps his advancing age has taken the boldness out of his thoughts or the bang I was expecting left during the editing stage at the publishing house. Either way, it's not the McCarthy I'm used to (read: dumbed down) and there's an awful lot of near-proselytizing that I found bothersome in the comments of the old sheriff which are used as breaks in the action - breaks the book didn't need. It will probably make a good thriller movie, I just hope they let him have script approval this time around.


WOW!

by Amazon Customer
(5/5)

I can see why the movie would get such awesome reviews, this book was super intense! This is another book my husband got over the holiday, that he hasn't yet read.I read this book in 2 days! It is a real crime thriller that you just cannot put down. The author's style is so distinctive and the character development really gets you attached to each indiviual's plight.I'm not sure I'll see the movie after reading this since it was so good. I tend to be afraid that the movie will ruin the book's images my mind creates.


2 Parts Modern-Day Western...1 Part Bygone Patriotism

by Amazon Customer "Jonathan Stephens"
(5/5)

While hunting in west Texas, Vietnam veteran Llewelyn Moss happens upon a circle of trucks riddled with bullets, a load of dead men, and 2.4 million dollars. The promise of a new life for him and his wife quickly outweighs the danger that kind of money carries with it. Almost immediately, Moss is at the top of everyone's wanted list. Wells--an agent of a drug cartel, Chigurh--a lone gun murderer, and Sheriff Bell of the local police all want Moss, and all Moss wants is his wife and a place where no one knows him. A place he can live in peace.Cormac McCarthy's NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is two parts stunning modern-day western and one part bygone patriotism. While the unorthodox dialect and quotation mark-free dialogue might offput some readers, the persistent ones will be rewarded. The interspersed first-person passages tell of an America that the narrator no longer recognizes--"My feelin about that is that anybody that cant tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a whole lot bigger problem that what I've got." He worries what this place will look like forty years down the road, especially with the way an unlucky satchel of drug money can litter a Texan town with more unaccounted-for homicides than they've ever seen.Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens


Don't Bother!

by A. Miller
(3/5)

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer traditional writing. The way the book was written made it a terribly tedious read for me. Other than that the story was good but the end left me hanging. I will never again read another book by Mr. McCarthy. I tried to change my star rating from three to two, but was unable to do so in the "Edit Review" page.


Ends More With a Whimper Than a Bang

by Andrew Desmond
(3/5)

"No Country for Old Men" has been my introduction to Cormac McCarthy. I confess to having seen the film of the same name which I found mesmerising. The killer, Chigurh, was absolutely relentless. He was the personification of evil and a man not to be crossed.In comparison, the book is less rewarding than the film. The scene is well established with Moss, the antelope hunter, stumbling across a major drug gang killing field in the Texas desert. It is here that he finds a suitcase containing $2.4 million. He promptly leaves the scene only to make the mistake of returning later that night to bring water to the one survivor of the gun fight who was pleading for help earlier in the day. This was to prove to be a fatal error. It is at this point that the reader is introduced to Chigurh and it is at this point that Moss's life begins to unravel.McCarthy's writing style is terse and very lean. Indeed, when using contractions, the apostrophe is usually left missing. In conversations, it is often difficult to distinguish between which party is speaking. These techniques may be of a certain style but, as far as I am concerned, they serve no purpose. The English language can be used bluntly without having to resort to party tricks.Overall, I found "No Country for Old Men" to be less than satisfying. For a book which started out so promisingly, its latter stages and conclusion were a let down.


A haunting read that takes you in and never let's go...

by Andrew Ellington
(5/5)

When I first read `The Road' I was astounded at how much of an emotional impact it had on me. It made me think about things I never expected it to and made me care in a way I wasn't used to. It made me realize that I needed to read everything Cormac McCarthy had written and fast. Sadly, I didn't act upon that instinct quick enough. In fact I just picked up `No Country for Old Men' the other day to sit down a give it a try; but I didn't have to try. In fact `No Country for Old Men' is the easiest read I've ever encountered. I didn't put the book down, not once, and read it in one straight sitting. It's a good thing I had nothing to do Saturday because when you stay up all night to read a novel you end up useless the next day.`No Country for Old Men' has a lot going for it. McCarthy's writing style is easy to adapt to. He writes in a fashion that's easy to understand, not to wordy, not overly descriptive yet he never fails to leave the reader without a sound sense of what is taking place. One thing I fell in love with was the way he adapted his writing style to the people and places he was introducing. The novel takes place in the dusty plains of Texas and so the sentence structure is that of a Texan, incomplete and grammatically incorrect. This is not an insult; I live in Texas, I know how they talk. It's funny because I read some of this novel aloud to my daughter (not the bloody parts) and my wife noticed that I read in a deep southern accent. The wording is so absorbing you start thinking in a drawl.That, my friends, is impressive.Cormac's masterpiece follows a few characters whose lives interconnect thanks to some drug money and an unfortunate decision. Llewelyn Moss is a simple man, a war (Vietnam) vet who lives a simple life with his young wife Carla Jean. His life gets plenty complicated when he stumbles upon some dead bodies and a case full of cash. He takes the money and runs, but soon realizes that he can't stop running; he's being hunted by two parties, both after the money. Psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh is hot on Moss' tail, breathing down his neck so-to-speak, while Sheriff Bell is desperately trying to locate Moss before it is too late. Caught in the middle of it all is Moss' wife, an emotionally moving casualty of this `war'.Each chapter of `No Country for Old Men' is opened with Sheriff Bell's thoughts on the current state of affairs. As the body count rises and the reasoning behind it all fades into a dark blur he contemplates why things have gotten so bad. He reasons on the way things were growing up and how much worse they have gotten and he sheds so much light on the purpose behind these pages. He comes to the realization that he is just too old for this; that his morals are so different from the morals crowding society today and that to try and understand it will only drag you down. He realizes first hand that this is no country for old men.Each character though adds layers to McCarthy's prose, not just Bell. One profound character is that of Chigurh whose sense of justice and loyalty is tainted by his savage lust for blood. The dialog within this novel is so strong in it's subtlety that it carries his characters to levels beyond them. When Anton first explains the significance of his coin toss we are captivated by his logic; and his final, devastating scene with Moss' wife Carla Jean we are moved so deeply by the entire encounter. Scenes of these conversations permeate the novel and take on lives of their own. A particular scene with Llewelyn and a young hitchhiker bring similar feelings of warmth and sympathy.Each blood-soaked page leads us to a further understanding of Cormac's message and as the novel comes to a dramatic close we feel as though we can relate to Bell and his longer for yesteryear. Times have certainly changed and definitely not for the better. Soon, very soon, this will be no country for young men, for any man for that matter.Soon, very soon, all hope will be lost.


Skip The Road and read No Country for Old Men

by Andrew
(5/5)

I would love to see more westerns set in modern times like this. This book is seat in 1980 on the Texas Mexico border and the wars involving the drug cartels are just starting to heat up. I could not put this book down for two seconds, unlike The Road which I read after No Country for Old Men and was disappointed. I say skip The Road and read No Country for Old Men.I love how McCarthy breaks the all of the rules with No Country for Old Men. He would drive an English teacher crazy and the traditional plot goes to the wayside as well. This book demonstrates how the bad guy sometimes gets away and the main character does not always ride off into the sunset. The Coen Brothers also did a great job making this book into a movie. If you read the book and see the movie you will be pleased to find that Hollywood stayed true to the book. It's like McCarthy's character stepped directly out of the book and onto the silver screen.


Sparse, meditative and blood soaked

by Andrij W. Zip
(4/5)

Sparse. Meditative. Blood soaked. These three descriptions best sum up No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy's modern vision of a western. The story is a good one - Llewelyn Moss stumbles across $2 million in cash near the Texas/Mexico border and finds himself in the middle of a drug war and the target of a Terminator-esque free-agent killer looking for the money. Eschewing punctuation and virtually any descriptive passages, McCarthy's sparse, lyrical prose takes some getting used to (as does the regional dialect), but once you find the rhythm you'll find yourself swept up in his blood soaked tale that is just as much a pageturning thriller as it is a meditative exploration of violence in contemporary America, good vs. evil, and the consequences of the choices we make in our lives. Read it before the Coen Brothers film comes out so you can impress all your friends. Recommended.


Great book...better movie?

by Andy Orrock
(5/5)

I've wanted to take a stab at a Cormac McCarthy novel for some time. When I heard the Coen brothers had adapted "No Country for Old Men," I knew my selection had been made for me. I scrambled quickly to read it.As far as the book itself: Wow. It's terse and remorseless. You quickly learn not to get attached to a character. The style is inimitable. McCarthy's quoteless, plainspoken dialog takes a little getting used to. But once you get into the swing of it, it is deeply evocative of small-town Texas. It's really brilliant.In terms of the movie, I simply love the casting. I spent the entire book thinking "Tommy Lee Jones." And there he is. Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh? How perfect is that? Josh Brolin (Llewelyn Moss) and Woody Harrelson (Carson Wells) are two other welcome selections. But the choice that leaves me intrigued beyond no end is Glasgow's own (and personal favorite) Kelly Macdonald (State of Play,The Girl in the Cafe) as Odessan Carla Jean Moss. Now, that's some inspired casting.


Not What You Are Expecting

by AREADER "Keep Reading, Even In The Bathroom"
(3/5)

This was the first of 4 books by Cormac McCarthy that I bought and read. Of these, this one was the better of the bunch. Good storyline. You are rooting for the good guy and you keep wondering if he's going to get away with it. The backgrounds of two of the main characters, Moss and Chigurgh leave a lot to be desired. Would have been nice to know a little more about their backgrounds. As for the Sheriff, well, he could have been totally left out of the book and it wouldn't have mattered. He was pretty much useless in crime solving or prevention. He just had some good ol' homegrown sayings and wisecracks. Don't even know why he was included. The story moves along at a pretty good pace but there are some things that occur in the story that leaves the reader a little confused. I still don't know who the owner of the drugs and money was or how the Mexicans always beat Chigurgh to Moss. You won't like the ending either by the way. I saw the movie after reading the book and if I were to review the movie, it would pretty much be the same as this review of the book.


Statement about society's ills

by Armchair Interviews
(4/5)

Reviewed by Nick Capo, Assistant Professor of English, Illinois CollegeThe recent movie version of No Country for Old Men undoubtedly will draw additional readers to the book. In his eleventh novel, Cormac McCarthy continues to explore American mythology, the human capacity for violence or evil, and the varieties of manhood. Told primarily from the perspectives of three characters, No Country for Old Men is a riveting, although disturbing, story.The story's precipitating event is a large heroin deal that ends in a shootout. Criminal organizations on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border then send hirelings to retrieve the drugs and money. Anton Chigurh, a psychopathic assassin, heads toward the Texas desert to retrieve the money. Llewelyn Moss, a hunter and Vietnam veteran, happens upon the dead or dying drug dealers and decides to take a briefcase filled with $2.4 million. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, another veteran, tries to sort out the chaos that is leaving dead bodies scattered across the region.In this novel, Cormac McCarthy merges the conventions of a thriller with the bleak realism and artistic experimentation of contemporary literary fiction. (Some readers might dislike the minimalist punctuation, the use of regional dialect, and the graphic descriptions.) The book's male characters struggle to achieve their ends in a conflict that is unkind to women who stray into it.Set roughly a decade after Vietnam, No Country for Old Men examines the effects of violence on men and on the society to which they return. Unfolding when the trafficking of "hard" drugs (cocaine, heroin) was booming, it connects Vietnam and societal vices (drug use, greed) as symptoms of a deeper malaise.As Sheriff Ed Tom Bell explains to a young reporter, "It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners. Any time you quit hearin Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight . . . You finally get into the sort of breakdown in mercantile ethics that leaves people sitting around out in the desert dead in their vehicles and by then it's just too late."In Sheriff Bell's world, one unlucky encounter, one bad decision, will cost you either your humanity or your life.Armchair Interviews says: Powerful story, well told.


Gripping, Somber, Violent, and Brilliant

by A. Ross
(5/5)

I'd never read anything by McCarthy before, but am a huge Coen Brothers fan -- so when I learned that their next project was an adaptation of this book, I made a mental note to check it out. Of course, about a year came and went before I actually read it, and by then the movie was in theaters. So the day after finishing the book, I went out and saw the movie, with the result that my impression of the book and the film are completely intermingled in ways I would have a very hard time untangling. That said, the film version is one of the most faithful adaptations I've come across and a very large portion of its brilliance can be directly credited to McCarthy's novel.Set in the early 1980s in Texas, the story revolves around three men. First is Llewelyn Moss, a rugged, capable Vietnam vet in his late '30s or so, who lives an honest life, likes a good time, has a sense of humor, and is the kind of handy everyman that makes for a good protagonist. The story opens with him out hunting antelope near the Rio Grande. in the course of which he discovers the aftermath of a heroin deal gone bad: several shot up pickups and a lot of dead Mexicans. He also tracks down a case containing several million dollars, and doesn't hesitate to grab it.The second main character is Sheriff Bell, a rugged, reflective, weary old-timer in whose county the killings occurred. He speaks to the reader directly in monologues throughout the book, tying the country's history of violence to the violence of the story's events as he tries to figure out just what is going on. These can be rather cheesy and hokey at times, but that's part of the point -- their style established the Sheriff's as a man of the past. The future is embodied by the final man in the trinity, Anton Chigurh. Forget your serial killer or gangster stories, this very odd hit man is among the purest incarnation of evil to be found in modern fiction. He has been hired to track down the missing money, and by his logic anyone who causes him any delay simply needs to be deleted.Moss's is a classic moral dilemma: what would you do if you found a lot of money. Would it matter where the money came from? Would the amount matter? Etc. In theory, Moss could have gotten clean away with the money, however his own code of ethics betrays him. His return to the scene of the carnage to fulfill a dying man's meaningless request both exhibits his humanity and makes him the prey of this story. Soon he is playing a deadly hide and seek with both Mexican drug dealers and Chigurh, with Sheriff Bell perpetually a step or three behind the action, cleaning up the bodies. Moss's sense of honor isn't his only problem though -- he also suffers from the sin of pride -- in believing he can handle Chigurh, he is responsible for a portion of this tragedy.For some readers, Moss's decisions may be so improbable and at odds with the stakes involved that they will be frustrated. However, it's important to realize that this isn't a straightforward crime story. McCarthy's clearly using the genre to speak to larger themes, with each of the three main characters as almost mythic figures in a moral landscape of good and evil. Meanwhile, he also subverts the genre in several ways that oughtn't be revealed here but may also greatly frustrate some readers. Nonetheless, told with simple, almost staccato language, this a gripping, somber, and very violent story -- one that makes for both and outstanding read and an outstanding film.


Scary story line because it could happen.

by AZ Gal in NV now
(3/5)

This is really a weird story line, but never the less the book kept me glued to every page. All I kept thinking about, as I read,was....does this stuff really happen?


At a certain age, what is important becomes clearer

by Bentley
(3/5)

No Country for Old Men by McCarthy is a tremendous thriller yet it is quite violent. If you are sensitive to violence, then I would say to bypass this novel. Otherwise, it does keep you on the edge of your seat.I wouldn't say that this is McCarthy's best book, but it is a very compelling read which examines life's goals and the pursuit of those things which are going to make us happy and keep us alive to see another day.It is a story with a western landscape, sheriffs, bad guys (especially one special character) and a string of dead bodies. You may not like the ending but you cannot say that it does not hold your interest.Good thriller. Interesting study of character, motivation and luck (good and bad).UPDATED NOTE:The beauty of this thriller is not being told what is going to happen to our protagonist and his adversary. I attempted to discuss the themes of the story and not give away the storyline resulting in a spoiler. Some folks obviously either wanted more information or disagreed with my assessment of three stars. Though I thought that this McCarthy work was good; I can honestly say that the violence was off the chart. If you are comfortable with that, you might have given it a higher ranking. However, I found that part of the experience tough to handle. Still I would say that it is a worthwhile read if this does not bother you.To me the Sheriff played a pivotal role in the story and the title had a lot to do with where he was in life and what he chose to value. It also was very much a story of deciding what is really in your best interests in the long run and what choices will enhance and/or lengthen your existence rather than curtail the longevity of your life.If you want to relax and enjoy your reading or viewing experience and want to get away from the harsh realities of violence in our culture while doing so, then this novel might not be for you. If that sort of thing does not bother you, then you would enjoy this work for its skillfully told saga.Bentley/2007


Crime Out in the Desert of New Mexico.

by Betty Burks "Betty Burks"
(3/5)

For forty years now, Cormac McCarthy has been entertaining men with his complicated fables to feed their inner wish to be tough like his characters. This is his 'adieu' to the Santa Fe Institute where he's been author-in-residence for four years. He thanks Amanda.He writes about the kind of men I'd never want to encounter, rough, uneducated killers of men and animals. The desert is no place for 'old men.' He's definitely a man's writer. Surely no woman would or could read his stuff. His ALL THE PRETTY HORSES was turned into a lovely movie which I liked, but the love story was 'inserted' for Hollywood, I was told.I found this disturbing novel less tham mesmerizing and the grammar awful. I though with a name like Lew Ross, I'd finally found my 'dream man;' alas, he's the typical roudh MacCarthyism all the way. He lives with his young wife, Loretta (typical) near the Rio Grande.I've tried to read one or two of his books before as I know a writer here sho met him at a bar on Gay Street and admires him -- just because he wrote SUTTREE aabout Knoxville long ago in the past. It was considered his 'magnum opus' at the time and the paperback cover shows the old train trestle below Volunteer Landing. Set in the 1950s he has eccentrics, criminals, squatters, outcasts and such living in physical and human squalor along the waterfront. His main character Sutree lives in a houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville (actually, it runs right through the middle of the town). I'd like to say that this town was not like that for the natives in the Fifties; it's a made-up story to downgrade the town.Recently, I met a 'gentle' man from Minnesota who came here from Texas and told he that he is trying to read McCarthy. So, I decided that if someone so nice could do it, so could I. The stereotypical nature of his characters and his use of violence turned me off completely. The roles fate plays in forming a life is here as Sherriff Bell laments 'the changing world' as he seeks Anton Chigurh, who had killed his deputy and left a trail of bodies out in the desert. He feels like narcotics are Satan. This is, as so many of his books are, a battle between good and evil. He writes, "you have to be willing to die," and "It is more more what you are willing to become." Everybody knows that the eyes are the windows to the soul. I know a woman who truly has 'devil eyes' even when she tries to smile. She'd make a perfect character in a Cormac McCarthy novel if he's go modern for a change.You can't possibly compare to tho ALL THE GOOD MEN. No Way!


Awesome Potboiler

by B
(4/5)

Action is everything here, this book reads like a movie. My guess is that McCarthy wrote it to sell to Hollywood to make himself some dough. It certainly will translate well to the screen.Like McCarthy's other books, this book is a portrayal of a Western code of living. Here we find what I call the "inscrutable man" -- Moss. Like many of McCarthy's male characters, Moss is tight-lipped, mysterious and stubborn. His wife feeds him his eggs and bacon and stays quiet. She cries over him, but does what he says and accepts the fate of his decisions. Cowboy-boots-and-few-words. There's a lot of it. That's part of what characterizes McCarthy's novels and makes them interesting, but enough can be enough. That said . . .The Sheriff:Is sympathetic and likeable (after all, he just wants to help Moss out). But the italicized passages of his moral digressions were not to my taste. I got the feeling McCarthy threw them in just to give the book some literary credential. It was bearable, but to a point. At the end of the book the Sheriff really gets self-absorbed; he and his father have the long conversation about "is life really worth it in the end?" and I wanted to roll my eyes, turn over and die. We've all read or seen this burned-out-Sheriff thing way too much, and there is no need to see more.Chigurh:Was brilliant. All that business about Fate and flipping coins was cool. This guy defines cold blooded.An ending thought: this all began because the guy at the crime scene in the desert asked Moss for water. Moss decided to go back and shut the door for him as he sat in the car, to protect him from "los lobos" -- wolves. If that door had been shut when he got there, there would have been no story at all.A book in the vein of pulp but oh so much better.


Took Some Getting Used To...

by Bobby T "Bobby T"
(5/5)

All in all I TRULY enjoyed reading this book. As this was my first McArthy novel, it definitely took some getting used to. By now you're probably aware that he does not use " " when a charcter is speaking. So from that perspective, it was challenging. But his wit, black humor, and impressive story telling made this book well worth the cost.Not a MUST read by any means, but a "should" read.


Reads like a movie script for a shoot em up movie.

by book worm "MEO"
(2/5)

Story stumbles as the characters stumble through the events in the book. Prose is often appealing but there is no plot development. I do not recommend this book.


No Country for Most People

by bravhat1234
(3/5)

No Country for Old Men is a well written book that perhaps is overly philosophical. I think at some point the book ceased to be in a style of realism because of this. For example, Chigur is certainly interesting, but not very believable. In addition, I felt like his character was kind of derivative, as we’ve seen similar personifications of evil before (I’m reminded of certain Batman villains). The philosophizing of Sheriff Bell, while at first beautiful and contemplative, gradually starts to get tiresome and repetitive. Also, McCarthy’s nihilism just doesn’t sit well with me. Sure the world is incredibly bleak, but maybe not in the same way as this novel. I definitely would not recommend this book for most people, it left me with a feeling of hopelessness, such that I would have rather not have read it (even though I had already seen the movie and knew what would happen). I personally wouldn’t chock that up as a good thing.


Thinking Mans Thriller

by Brett Benner
(4/5)

I own the imfamous Border trilogy, but to be honest have only read, "All the Pretty Horses'. I remember liking it, although I struggled, especially with the lack of punctuation. That exists in this as well, but it didn't bother me in the least. In fact it seemed to aid in the relentless pace that gets set right from the get go. It seems so pretentious to call a book a 'literary thriller' but between bouts of bloodshed are passages about the nature of man, this ailing country, and where it's all headed, that I suspect won't be found in the pages of a James Patterson book. It's violent, tautly written and thought provoking. Quite a good book.


Supremely well written

by Brett Grossmann "BrettOG"
(5/5)

One of those books you finish and you want to read again. I had seen the movie before I read this book. It doesn't hurt the read at all. Do yourself the favor and give your eyes the gift of these words.


Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!

by Brian A. Baird ""After that, everything g...
(5/5)

I read 1/2 of this on my Kindle & listened to 1/2 of it while on my treadmill.This book was a Super quick read & a must for any McCarthy fan. It's not as dry as some of his other books, which I found refreshing.If you're a fan of the movie (which I am...BIGTIME!!) you'll really enjoy the book. I say this because it has a little bit more of everybody in it.The wife has more speaking lines & her scene at the end w/ Chigur (sp?) is different than the movie.Also, you see a bit more of Chigur in the book, which is GREAT because the movie left me wanting more.So if you want more of the movie, read the book. End of story.


The book came first, then the movie

by Buffalohump
(5/5)

I highly doubt McCarthy wrote this book with an intention of 'selling' it to Hollywood. If you know anything of the man you will know that money has NEVER interested him. I am only speculating but I think he wrote it because it must have been a lot of fun to write. It is certainly fun to read. I own all of his books and have read them several times. No Country is the one I turn to again and again because it is a unique offering from one of the greatest writers of all time. I believe if Faulkner had written a detective novel it would be similarly intriguing. The book is very much of a time and place, like all McCarthy's novels. Just because it happens to take the form of a crime novel doesn't make it any less important or significant a book than The Crossing, or The Road, for example.


Bleak, yet riveting

by Caleb
(4/5)

I was a little thrown at first by McCarthy's lack of punctuation and clipped dialogue, but I couldn't put this book down. It wobbled a bit at points, mostly due to the dialogue, but all in all it was a masterful, bare-bones novel. Haunting, barren, and majestic, much like the landscapes in which it takes place. Definitely worth reading.


Excellent, Moving, and Profound Work of Fiction.

by Carl Robinson
(5/5)

This book is an entertaining story about a blue collar Texas Man who finds money from a drug deal gone wrong. Along the way McCarty explores the border violence of the US-Mexico Marches, the nature of fate, and the idea that the older generations are so much more than what they are today. A great read which helps give insight into the excellent movie of the same name.


Startling and affecting...

by Cassie W.
(5/5)

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is, essentially, a novel about good and evil masquerading as a chase novel. Vietnam vet Llewellyn Moss is hunting antelope on the Texas plains one morning when he discovers what appears to be a drug deal gone bad: men lying gutted in the grass, dead or dying, surrounded by heroin and millions of dollars in cash. Llewellyn takes as much of the money as he can carry and leaves the rest of the scene as he found it, and it isn't long before he's being pursued across the plains by a deadly hunter: Anton Chigurh, a ruthless, unfeeling assassin who will kill anyone who gets in his way. Sheriff Bell, a celebrated war hero on the cusp of his retirement, is pursuing Moss as well, and his narrative serves as a framework for the novel.I am relatively new to Cormac McCarthy; besides THE ROAD, this is the only book of his I've read. But I think even if I had read everything he'd ever written, I'd still be awed at his remarkable ability to say so much with so few words. This enormous talent, this ability to create complexity and depth out of simplicity, is what makes him one of the greatest authors of our time. NCFOM is McCarthy at his sparsest, and yet somehow, he brings the world of his novel completely to life for readers: It is a place of ruthlessness and violence, and of tenderness and gentleness that juxtapose the lack of compassion so brilliantly. In this novel, people make choices with drastic consequences -- and virtually no one makes the right choice. I don't think anyone could thoroughly dissect this novel and find its true meaning with one reading, but here's my take: I think McCarthy's making a statement about the difference between the old world and the new -- the world where soldiers carry around guilt for their whole lives about an incident that may or may not have made them a hero, and the world where men kill without guilt, without compassion, without regard. What happened to that old world? McCarthy seems to lament -- that world of honor, of "taking care of things," of violence that was only exhibited on foreign shores, in foreign wars? The vista of his novel is, clearly, not a country for the men from that world. Certain passages in the book seem to indicate that the only things we can hold on to, the only things that can keep us human -- the only things LEFT from that old world -- are the moments of tenderness we steal with our loved ones.Cormac McCarthy is not for everyone -- especially not for those looking for lite reading. He will make you think, make you shake your head at the state of the world, and probably make you cry. But do read him for a pure, unadulterated glimpse into what makes us all human, for an incredibly emotional, provocative reading experience. NCFOM is profound, and affecting, and thrilling, and a novel not to be missed.


Wow! McCarthy's Masterful, Accessable Texas-Noir Requires Exactly One Sitting

by C. Bleakley
(5/5)

I want to strike while the iron is hot, a few hours after finishing "No Country For Old Men," while I'm still enjoying the adrenelin rush it provided. This fast-paced, streamlined crime novel seems like a real departure for the author of "All the Pretty Horses" (there's nary a horse to be found in "Old Men's" pages) but it's certainly his most accessible work and possibly his best. Coincidence?Perhaps not. In the past, McCarthy's brooding style has been likened to Faulkner's. But there's no time to brood in "No Country For Old Men," and McCarthy has largely omitted the descriptive passages that earned such comparisons. Here it seems, the guiding light is Hemingway's sparseness. In McCarthy's hands, the words comes out like a spring river, crisp, clean, cold and fast. The mayhem starts on page 7 and continues for some time. The story moves like a scalded dog. So save it for a weekend day, you'll want to devour it in a single sitting. Once I got past the set-up at the beginning, I only put the novel down once--to call a friend to tell them what a great novel I was reading.But McCarthy's trump card in this book is his dialogue: a telegraphic Texas stacatto of suprisingly few words but tremendous power--and often, humor. There were several times when I just had to set the book down for a few moments to allow myself a short hoot over something someone was saying. If Samuel Beckett had been Teaxan instead of Irish, he might have written dialogue like this. But as far as I know, no one else ever has.Granted, the book is not critic-proof. The last 50 pages may come as a letdown to many readers, but I'm willing to give McCarthy the benefit of the doubt that something important is happening in these pages (and much more willingly than I was, say, of the quixotic quest that makes up the last section of "Pretty Horses"). They're not the part of this book that I'll remember. But I will remember it. The sociopath Chigurh's more verbose passages may simply be there to show that he likes to mentally torture some of his victims, and that the mind can rationalize anything (and how exactly). Sherrif Bell's ruminations do provide a framework of sorts, and a great breather from the breakneck speed of the action. These really do come to dominate the last 50 pages, but as I said, I'll give McCarthy the benefit of a doubt that there is a moral complexity beyond mere good and evil in the sherriff's thoughts. Here's hoping a second, less propulsive reading will more readily find that complexity.Here's also hoping that this book will make a big splash with the casual reader, outside the groves of academia where McCarthy is already revered as a master stylist. This is simply a great crime novel. It rocks. To paraphrase myself, no novel by so highly regarded a writer has had this high a body count (unless it's the author's own "Blood Meridian"). One of the ironies of the novel's title is that if the character isn't an old man once the novel begins, he's not likely to live to become one.So batten down the hatches, turn off the phones, send the kids away and grab a copy. As cinematic as this book is, they don't need to make a movie. The images are still unreeling in my head.


Great Story

by Charles Edwards
(5/5)

This is a must for any fan of McCarthy. Like most of his work it's blunt, direct, and will kick you in the gut, but what a story.


Step aside Hannibal, Make Room for Anton Chigurh

by Child King
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthy is in such an elite class, you almost have to compare him to only Cormac McCarthy. In his canon, No Country for Old Men is probably his most accessible work for "the masses." It's a quick, violent, captivating story of a man, Llewelyn Moss, in the wrong place at the wrong time. The hook that the entire premise hangs on is when Moss decides to revisit this place to tie up a loose end. In less capable hands, that act would feel flimsy and hollow, like a plot device, but McCarthy makes it seem perfectly reasonable given what we know and learn about this character. Ed Tom Bell as the aging sheriff and Carson Wells as the obsessed tracker are great support pieces. Hands down though, the star of this novel is Anton Chigurh. A ruthless, cunning, remorseless assassin with some of the most memorable dialogue ever put on paper. His dogged obsession with completing his tasks never wavers. Even Hannibal Lector displayed some flashes of conscience toward Clarice. We never see it in Chigurh. This book is a quick read. Do yourself a favor and carve out a couple hours to sit down with it. You won't be sorry.


I wish the story never ended

by Christopher Vitto "Christopher Vitto"
(5/5)

I read this book well before the movie version and the writing although lighter than most McCarthy books was non-stop page turner that I wish was 600 pages. Superb and enthralling. A must read even if you have seen the movie which does the book justice but no equal to the writing.


A Thriller that is Great Literature

by CJA "CJA"
(5/5)

I saw the movie version of this book before I had heard of McCarthy, but have since read a number of his books and have found him to be a great American writer in the tradition of Faulkner and Hemingway.The movie was quite faithful to the book, and the New York Times reviewer hypothesized that McCarthy just wanted to have some fun by writing a thriller that would make him some money. It's a thriller, and I'm glad McCarthy made a bunch of money on the book and movie. But this is not a second rate entertainment by a first rate author: the book is a literary classic.Chigurh, like some of the other villains of McCarthy's fiction, is a man who is comfortable stripping away all of trappings of civilization and conventional morality. What this leaves is the primal, animal self whose gifts are channeled into the all-consuming task of survival. And he is quite good at it. Yet he can't resist the human urge to put some kind of gloss on these survival skills -- and he adopts some "rules" and "principles" of his conduct, albeit limited ones. The twist that this villain brings is his fascination with chance. He plays dice with the lives of others, and loves having his choice and their fate wholly ruled by chance. After all, aren't we all fascinated by chance? And if we strip away the veneer of civilization, aren't the two things left simply the survival instinct and the element of chance that so complicates our abiity to survive?The book, unlike the movie, is more about Sheriff Bell than it is Chigurh, who is more construct than he is a viable protagonist. Bell also is haunted by the need to survive and by the ravages of chance. But he is a representative of conventional morality, and his struggle to do the right thing in an increasingly amoral world ruled by fear and chance makes him an attractive figure. His capacity for self-doubt prevents him from being simply a right-wing Clint Eastwood type figure, though that is his expressed philosophy.The novel is set in 1980, though it was written recently. Why? After seeing the movie, I thought that the reason was that all of the recent technology would make the chase between and among Moss, Chigurh, and Bell much less interesting. I still think that is part of the explanation. But I aso think that McCarthy wanted to set the novel at a time of national malaise and self-doubt. How can we reconcile Bell's conventional morality and the self-professed mission of this country with forces that seem much stronger -- new generations of amoral villains, national self-doubt, resource limitations, chance?The irony is that the Reagan era that followed hardly seems a vindication of Bell, but more like a lot of whistling in the dark. Have we really solved the problems that Bell ponders? Are we really better off now than we were in 1980? Are we really less vulnerable? Perhaps McCarthy intended that irony as well in his setting of the novel.The movie was so first rate and faithful to the book that one may question the need to read the book at all. But, McCarthy's language and his treatment of Bell and Chigurh are far richer than is possible in a two-hour movie.A great book.


100% perfection

by clifford "akitonmyers"
(5/5)

I am writing this review based on the genre it masters. McCarthy has always straddled the noir mystery/thriller genre over the arc of his career. However, this is by far the furthest he has ventured into the world of this oft maligned sub category of fiction. What comes out through McCarthy's prodigious gift for prose is perhaps the very best book this genre has ever seen.In my opinion, this is McCarthy at his very best. Often when you read his books, his prose gets lost as your mind wanders through the visions he creates as an author. Its a curious effect in that his writing style has always been sparse. However, here... the tension that McCarthy creates is so vivid and alive that you as a reader will find find yourself ratcheted to every word, almost unable to put the book aside. Myself, I was up til almost dawn, unwilling to stop reading until I found how this story would unfold.This writing harks back to one of my favorite genre writers of the 60's and 70's, Jim Thompson. The style is very similar. He wrote such masterpieces as 'The Killer Inside Me', and 'the Grifters'. Only McCarthy takes Thompson and manages to add another level. The dialog here is intermittent, a lot of what occurs here is through the eyes of a single character out on his own, but when you come across it... I have never read better.I have read thousands of mystery/thriller books in my day and a swath of contemporary fiction post Hemingway. This book is one that I will hold up as not just being the best McCarthy book I have read (high praise from one who loves McCarthy), but also one of the very best books hands down that I have had the joy to come across.Its dark, sparse, gritty... if this appeals to you, don't hesitate, get this book.


"Evil Flourishes When Good Men Do Nothing"

by C. Middleton
(5/5)

Has the world changed, so much so, that all values and principles, basic manners, all respect for ourselves and our fellow human beings, has diminished to such an extent , to where: " Evil florishes, because Good men do Nothing." ?If this is truly the case, as suggested in McCarthy's book, as a civilization, we are doomed to mayhem, lost causes and no respect for the past.One could say that McCarthy's book is simply violent; though the violence is a smack in the face as to where we, as a civilization are going.The violence is a drastic representation of our current Western society: childern brought up without values, relationships that last so long to then die, leaving collateral damage, namely the children. Grandparents from the last generation left to bring up the children. But as Bell, the protagonist points out, "Who will take care of those children as responsibility has gone by the wayside". (Paraphrased.)McCarthy is a clever and deeply gifted writer. This book is not about an oldman yearning or lamenting for the good days gone past. The book is about basic decency, manners, and respect gone somewhere into the fog...people, in general, including the children, seem to not care anymore, except for themselves.If you have apathy in the masses, Evil grows like weeds in your garden."No Country for Old Men", for those who can still read, is a wake up call to DO something because it appears that our world is headed to Hell in a hand basket.This well written tale is about greed, chance, true evil, the chance do do the right thing, and the collateral damage that evil will create when not stopped.But does anyone care anymore unless it directly touches "Their lives"?In general, from my experience, the answer is an absolute...NO!The plot to this story is known to most and would be redundant to summarise.The Cohen brother's film adaptation of the novel never strays and is right on the mark. McCarthy's book, though, cuts deep, made the issues it raised more real, and that most Western country's belong to the no responsible waste land of a drug-ridden world.It is a depressing novel, yet in the end, Bell's dream, gives us Hope that there is Light in the fog ahead...for all.


No Country for Young Men Either

by colinwoodward
(4/5)

I liked the movie, "No Country for Old Men," so much that I bought the book, which serves as my introduction to the blood-soaked world of Cormac McCarthy."No Country" is a very accessible piece of writing. McCarthy uses modernist techniques, among them the lack of quotation marks when he writes dialogue, but they don't make for difficult reading or obscure his meaning. The novel is written at about an eighth grade level. That's not a criticism; rather, it suggests how straight-forward and economical the story-telling is. One could say the novel uses a Hemingway-like style to examine Faulknerian characters. Inspiration from other writings, however, are at work. One of the book's major themes, that valuable prizes can corrupt those that seek them, is in everything from the Bible (Matthew 16: 26) to Steinbeck's "The Pearl."The novel's plot centers around the Vietnam veteran Moss, who, while hunting antelope, stumbles across dead bodies, a truck full of heroin, and more than two million dollars cash. Moss takes the money, but unfortunately for him, its owner really, really wants it back. McCarthy never makes it clear, but perhaps some of Pablo Escobar's goons are on Moss's trail.Also following him is Anton Chiguhr, a kind of independent contractor killer, who is hired by a shady business man to find the money. The main reason I bought the book was to see McCarthy flesh out more the Chiguhr character and his opposite number, the bounty hunter Wells. But he doesn't. Perhaps McCarthy wanted Chiguhr to remain mysterious. More than a flesh and blood character, I think, Chiguhr is a symbol for death, the grim reaper made flesh. And as with death, he is remorseless, unstoppable, prolific, and omnipresent. We can't really dislike Chiguhr, only fear him. He is a force of nature, the novel's most fascinating character, who toys with his victims by giving them a choice: a flip of the coin will decide your fate. Choose wrongly and you die, choose correctly and you live.The hard-boiled nature of the novel is similar to the traditional crime novel, but what separates it from pulp writing is another theme: is human society, in the era of drive-by-shootings and drug wars, getting worse? The overwhelmed Sheriff Bell thinks it is--even though Bell, who is two steps behind Moss and his pursuers, fought in the most destructive war in history, WWII. Bell sees portents of doom everywhere. He laments the lack of common manners (saying "sir" and "Ma'am") and the sight of youths walking down the street with colored hair and nose piercings. The murder he is investigating, as he sees it, is a new kind of violence, a new trend in human behavior. His is not a country for old men. Given the violence that saturates this book, it really isn't a country for any man. Yet, toward the end of the book, Bell's uncle says life has always been hard, situations violent, people made to suffer. For him, a crippled old man who has survived many hardships, murder, greed, and misery are nothing new.The movie is very faithful to the book. It is even an improvement on it, since the action and suspense plays better on the screen, I think, than the written page. "No Country for Old Men"is not ambitious enough to be a great book, but it whets your appetite. I will be reading another McCarthy novel very soon.


A dark Western crime thriller

by Cory D. Slipman
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthy using a succinct, unfetterd writing style demonstrates why he is considered the finest American contemporary literary talent on the scene today. He creates a somber storyline set in west Texas in the 1980's which describes a society that has degenerated in the face of crime, drugs and violence.The plot is woven around the actions of three main characters. Llewelyn Moss is a retired ex-welder and Vietnam vet who stumbles upon a failed drug deal in the desert that left behind mutiple dead bodies, a cache of heroin and a case containing more than 2 million in cash. Against his better judgement, he absconds the cash and is pursued by psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh, who is commissioned to recover the money. Chigurh who lives by a warped sense of morality has no enemies, having killed anyone that unfortunately steps into his path.Through the third main character Terrell county sheriff Ed Tom Bell we get insight into the deterioration of the life that had been basically unchanged for aeons in this remote Texas locale. The drug related murders have occurred in Bell's jurisdiction. He soon figures out what happened and is trying to protect Moss from the doom stalking him in the guise of the monstrous killer Chigurh.McCarthy using a plain, simple, unextravagant writing technique, nonetheless is able to produce deep and penetrating descriptive prose depicting his well developed characters and a pulsating storyline set into a palpable setting.


Cinematographer's dream, reader's nightmare...

by C. Quinn
(3/5)

Reading this book, I could see why it must have made a magnificent movie- it reads like a cinematogepher's dream. That said, I wasn't a huge fan of the voice, the lack of punctuation, and the need to count lines of dialogue in places to figure out who was talking. The book is violent, the language spare, and after finishing it, I may just rent the movie after all.


One of the best books I've ever read

by Crichton Rand "CR"
(5/5)

Such an interesting writing style. No real punctuation. The ending was realistic rather than Hollywood. Lots of depth in this one.


A good book once you get past the writing style

by Crystal S.
(3/5)

This was a good book. It took me a while to get used to his writing style of no/little punctuation (quotation marks, commas, apostrophes etc.) I was less excited about the parts of the book that were being narrated by the Sheriff than the actual story. I was also very unhappy with how the book ended. Still, it was a good book and I'll see the movie which is supposed to be great and dead on with the book.


Meandering & Tiresome Story

by C. Stephans
(2/5)

I was unimpressed by this book. I didn't think it delivered a meaningful plot or significant character development. The story in fact seems truncated. Each time the writer begins to allow for interesting connections to characters they end with the death of the character or a change of scene. The antagonist of the story is more robotic than human. He resembles the terminator (1st one) in his relentless killing and stamina. He lacks personality, history or apparent purpose.Each part of the book begins with a soliloquy by the Sheriff that are not revelatory or profound. The final chapters of the book are told by the Sheriff and include his musings on the old times v. modernity. These lack insight and connection to the plot, as well as anything to intrigue readers.The ending and the way the book deals with the antoganist and other characters is unsatisfying. The book seems like a half-hearted attempt and left me scratching my head at the point of it all.


Noir Wannabe

by Dallan Santos
(3/5)

The book, for the most part, reads fast and is generally entertaining, but it should have been put through a good editor's wringer. All Bell's hokey knee-slapping monologues and the endless pages of pointless meandering driveling dialogue should have been cut, cut, cut. That would have reduced it by a third, to the size the meagre plot could sustain. The actual central plot problem of take the money and run is a good one, but McCarthy weighs it down to the point it's a getaway car with four flat tires. Also, the story and Moss's credibility both take a plunge when he has you know who is his sight at the hotel and does nothing. (He may as well have said: "Okay, Sugar, turn around and put your hands over your eyes and count to a hundred. No peeking.") Big mistake. Also, for all Chigurh's bloodletting, I found him surprisingly non-menacing. Maybe it was the tension-releasing conversations he had with his victims before shooting them. And there were numerous small but wearing mistakes. I know Texas is considered a tad delinquent, but can you really buy a vehicle from a dealership and go to a notary without identification?Still, this is Cormac McCarthy, and even at his worst, he's worth the effort ("Reach me that machinegun from under the seat." Hilarious). I just think he could have had a beautiful little black diamond here for his collection, and he seems to have rushed it, taken shortcuts, and did not engage a merciless second pair of eyes to help him polish it out. And that's a shame.


A beautiful, gripping work of literature

by DanD
(5/5)

Llewelyn Moss discovers a satchel containing 2.4 million dollars. Being a typical good-old-boy, with some war experience behind him, he takes the money and runs. On his trail is Anton Chigurh, a psycopathic hitman who carries a cattle gun, and is equipped with an equally-deadly conscience. On the trail of both men is Sheriff Bell, a WWII vet who sees Chigurh as symbolic of society's increasing disregard for rhyme and reason.There is enough action in "No Country For Old Men" to keep readers glued to the pages. However, as one may expect from a Cormac McCarthy novel, it is not the action that lures in the true readers. So here it is, folks, casual readers beware: This is NOT an action thriller. Yes, there's action; yes, there's so much tension you can barely stand it. But the action is symbolic; it's purpose is to make you think, not just to entertain your short attention span. This is a novel that will stay with you long after you read it. So if you are simply wanting a crime-drama, pass this one up. It is a social commentary piece disguised as an action/thriller.My one regret about reading this book is that I saw the movie first. Don't get me wrong, I loved the film; both the book and the movie are new favorites of mine in their respective media. But seeing the movie first gave away what was coming. Fortunately, I have McCarthy's firm grasp of the written word to fall back on. True, his style takes some getting used to; no apostraphes in contractions, no quotation marks, no naming of characters unless absolutely necessary, a strange reluctance to use commas. But all of it makes the reading unique. If you are a true literature lover, you will delight in McCarthy's unique, rivetting style. His writing is made to focus your attention; no multi-tasking with his books. You are giving 100% to the reading, which is how it should be done anyways.So there. Hopefully you've been fore-warned. "No Country For Old Men" is a true gem of literature; it is insightful and gripping, a page-turner that truly makes you THINK. Some readers aren't comfortable thinking; they prefer sugar-coated tales where everything ends well, even if it doesn't make sense, even if it betrays the heart and soul of the story. McCarthy doesn't betray the story. "No Country For Old Men" is an example of literature that stays true to itself, that takes no prisoners and makes no sacrifices. Read it and learn, folks. This is the stuff that literature is made of.


Blood Meridian Lite

by Daniel Myers
(3/5)

First off, the title for this book comes from the first line of the Yeats poem "Sailing to Byzantium." I haven't read any other review that bothers to mention this rather, it would seem, significant fact. -So, there it is.-One might do well to read or reread that poem before embarking on this book.The above beng mentioned, I simply can't recommend this book to anyone in search of literature. - Fast-paced, page-turning action and sophomoric interior monologues? Then, it's for you. - Otherwise, this book is simply a pale shadow of Blood Meridian.Chigurh, the "psychopathic" killer, is such an obvious, watered-down replacement for The Judge in Blood Meridian that he's much more than an embarassment in this novel. - He even uses the exact wording as does The Judge about the "right currrency" not being money. It's blood, of course. But Chigurh is no Judge. He's already boxed into this meaningless diagnosis of "psychopathic" near the beginning of the book; whereas the Judge is the moving philosophical protagonist in Blood Meridian and remains a Delphic figure to the end. Without The Judge, there would be no Blood Meridian.-If you don't buy all this, try thinking of Chigurh as Delphic, in that adjective's original sense. It quite obviously just won't do.McCarthy should have ceased writing after Suttree, to my mind his greatest work, perhaps even the greatest postwar American novel of the Twentieth century. His books have diminished increasingly in quality since he found megastar success with The Border Trilogy. I am constantly reminded when contemplating McCarthy's downward spiral of the poem penned by Malcolm Lowry after he succeeded in publishing his 20th Century masterpiece, Under The Volcano:Success is like some horrible disaster...Destroying the house of the soul, exposing that you have worked for only this.O, that I had never suffered this treacherous kiss, and been left in darkness to countinually founder and fail.Perhaps I should give Mcarthy the benefit of the doubt, as the novel was originally 600 pages before cutting. Who knows what lurks in those cuts? His current agent, Amanda Urban, and her agency, ICM, brook no long, meandering works of art. Trust me: I have a letter from her in re my first novel (still unpublished) informing me that I am a "great writer" but that my work is "unmarketable."But I don't have the 600 pages. All I have is what got the imprimatur here, and it simply isn't worth the read. All I can say, sadly, is to return to those books for which McCarthy will be remembered: Blood Meridian and Suttree.


"You know how this is going to turn out, don't you?"

by Dash Manchette
(4/5)

Cormac McCarthy has never been well known for happy and optimistic writing. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is not going to change that reputation. It is a dark work in which the massive loss of blood and human life is exceeded by the loss of hope for humanity.When Llewelyn Moss comes across more than two million dollars in a drug deal gone bad in the middle of the desert, he knows he should not take the money. But the temptation just proves too great and so the manhunt begins. Moss, however, greatly underestimated the tenacity and, more ominously, the psychopathy, of the person on his tail. The killer Chigurh is among the most disgusting and vile human beings ever to appear in fiction. A man so totally without regard for human life as to be almost beyond description. Moss is no match for a man such as this and, as Chigurh himself puts it, the promise of high profits tends to make men overestimate their abilities in a field like this.The other main character, Sheriff Bell, is also looking for Moss. Bell is an older man from a different time. Despite having been a lawman for decades, he sees in Chigurh a different type of evil that had not existed until recently. Bell tries to make sense of a world in which even murderers can be so breathtakingly heinous. Knowing that Chigurh is not an isolated figure but a new type of man which society will see more of, Sheriff Bell is unsure that his old school sense of honor will be able to stop the tide that is rising and of which Chigurh is but a drop.NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is written in the sparse stripped down style familiar to fans of McCarthy. The action moves fast with characters on high speed collision courses with each other, while minor characters can do nothing more than watch and hope to walk away alive. Few of them do.


Holy Cats!

by Dave Schwinghammer "Dave Schwinghammer"
(5/5)

If you like your conflicts fully resolved, you may want to look elsewhere; if you're bothered by unconventional punctuation, you may be irritated by this book; if you despise jump cuts and point of view shifts, you may find yourself rereading sections of this book to catch your bearings. Otherwise, however, you may find this one of the most original books you've read in years.The story begins when Llewelyn Moss stumbles across the aftermath of a drug shootout while out antelope hunting. He follows a trail out into the desert at the end of which he finds a dead man and 2.4 million dollars. What he doesn't find (until it's too late) is the bug hidden in the money. Soon he has a dauntless hit man on his tail. The bodies pile up like cord wood. This part of the story is pretty conventional. Llewelyn Moss is likable and smart. He seems to anticipate the killer's every move, until he meets a fourteen-year-old, female hitchhiker, who proves to be too much of a distraction.About two-thirds of the way through the book, the focus switches from Llewelyn to Sheriff Bell, who's trying to save Llewelyn from himself. There's more quirky point of view stuff going on here as McCarthy has Bell tell us what he's thinking in first person, then switches immediately to third, still using Bell as a focus. Bell philosophizes about how he's never seen criminals quite as bad as these drug pushers. He never really believed in Satan until confronted with these people. McCarthy does like to preach occasionally and Bell is a willing stand-in; he indicts not only the drug pushers, but also the people who buy them, and he also seems to hint at some kind of organized crime syndicate that is intentionally chipping away at the American character, hence the title NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.I have to admit that I was completely caught off guard by what happened to Llewelyn Moss. It happens after a jump cut, and I kept thinking McCarthy was playing some kind of trick on the reader. No such luck. McCarthy is just as ruthless as Chigurh, the hit man. And there's another surprise in story when it comes time to resolve Sheriff Bell's story arc. You won't believe that one either.


Whipped Through That One

by D. D. Burlin
(4/5)

Excellence one comes to expect from Mr. McCarthy. Quick-paced and gory, this book felt like I was reading a Coen brothers movie - oh, wait... and I haven't even seen the movie.


Not just for Old Men

by Desmond Keats
(4/5)

This is a good book. Although the movie does it a grand justice by presenting it in the way it was done, the book itself is also a treat and very pleasant to read. Enough has been said about McCarthy's excellent ability to write a brilliant storyline with obscure auguries of death. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in such matters.


In a hopeless world someone has to carry the fire

by deudad
(5/5)

No Country for Old Men is a story of one man's fight against a society that no longer upholds the morals that it used to. Cormac McCarthy paints an illustrious picture of how he sees it with a dark brooding representation of our world today.The year is 1980, and the setting is western Texas. Llewellyn Moss is hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, but instead finds eight Mexican dope-dealers shot up, a load of heroine, and more than $2 million in cash. He takes the money and it changes everything.Only after two more people are murdered does a victim's burning care lead Sheriff Ed Tom Bell to the disaster in the desert, and he realizes how desperately Moss and his young wife need protection.Anton Chigurh knows no emotion. He hunts Moss and stops at nothing, unwilling to let anything get in his way. He kills without thought. Nothing can stop him.It is Ed Tom Bell pitted against an enemy he knows he cannot stop.The story revolves around three characters: Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Llewellyn Moss, and the antagonist, Anton Chigurh. The plot, as you can see, is relatively simple, but with McCarthy's brilliant prose, and interesting twists, he moves the story into grounds that other writers wouldn't dare to go, much like he did with The Road. And, also like The Road, Cormac McCarthy tells a dark tale, filled with violence and musings on society.The author certainly accomplished what he set out to do: a mirror of his view of what the world is like now. McCarthy's ideas are brought to light here possibly even stronger than in The Road. This novel seems even more pointed. He serves the purpose of creating a bleak, hopeless setting and calling it society. Then he goes on to put in a character that is only trying to make his way in life. Then the antagonist (a violent, determined psychopath) hunts down the character until he fulfils his needs. It is a truly hopeless situation, and we see that through the eyes of Ed Tom Bell, and hear it when he muses about how the world is changing for the worse with this sudden wave of violence. It is obvious that the author has succeeded incredibly to create the story world, and build on to make an argument, or at least a statement.As always, Cormac's writing is astounding. I still am amazed as to how he can make a situation that does not have much going on, into a brilliant piece of prose. He can reveal so much about someone's character through just a few lines of dialogue. He moves from scene to scene flawlessly. I can see no fault whatsoever in his writing, in his character development, and especially in the way he describes scenery. Simply amazing.I can see no weaknesses in the book as a whole, as to how the book is written, plot, and characters, et cetera. I think the only weakness in the book is his general view of life. Yes, McCarthy is using a hyperbole to make a pint, but it is an awfully hopeless point. I can see that Cormac believes that the situation the world is now is one without hope. In the ending he describes a sequence where Ed Tom Bell has a dream, and in that dream he is carrying in fire. I think that symbolizes a faint hope that McCarthy wants to believe in.This book was very moving, in the sense that it made really think. McCarthy's books really seem to make you think. In The Road it was about a father's undying love for his son, and now in No Country for Old Men it is wondering if there is any hope for our world, and if we can really do anything about it. And I do think that these are things worth thinking about.I would highly recommend this book for readers who are looking for a deep, thought-provoking book with a definite statement. There are a few cautions, like violence and some language. Most of the violence is extremely brutal. McCarthy is the kind of author that has no qualms about throwing things at his character that may not be very enjoyable, to say the least. People get killed in numerous ways. After all, this is a thriller involving a serial killer.But if you can get past the violence and appreciate how well the book is crafted, you can enjoy this book for what it is. Because McCarthy pours his soul into what he writes, the result is something worth putting the time into. I read No Country for Old Men with the assurance that I wasn't getting into something that was a fake. And despite what his worldview may be, if the author writes from his heart, we'll find something we can be immersed in for however long it takes to read it from cove to cover.And that's what McCarthy has brought us. A violent, yet almost poetic, musing of how he views society and the direction its taking; something I feel is worth looking into.


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

by D. F SHAFER "don"
(5/5)

"The man stepped away from the vehicle. Chigurh could see the doubt come into his eyes at this bloodstained figure before him but it came too late. He placed his hand on the man's head like a faith healer. The pneumatic hiss and click of the plunger sounded like a door closing. The man slid soundlessly to the ground, a round hole in his forehead from which blood bubbled and ran down into his eyes carrying with it his slowly uncoupling world visible to see. Chigurh wiped his hands with his handkerchief. I just didn't want you to get blood on the car, he said."And so we are introduced to Anton Chigurh - pronounced like sugar - and his slaughter house killing weapon of choice. "No Country for Old Men" does not get any gentler as the story moved through its 300+ pages. In the end Chigurh, Sheriff Bell and his wife Loretta are still alive while most of the other characters have met violent, graphic death.Having read most of Mr. McCarthy's books, "Blood Meridian" as opposed to the trilogy always seemed to me the most violent, graphic and soul rending. That was until I read this one. It is a sparse masterpiece portraying a world gone mad with narcotic's dealers warring amongst themselves and collateral damage right and left. The descriptions of the characters are set in the same prose as the descriptions of Texas. You can get out your map and follow the action from El Paso to Houston and San Saba to Eagle Pass. I've driven all those roads and the descriptions are spot on.This book is a fantastic read. But, be warned, once you pick it up you will NOT want to put it down. I didn't!


Movie is better, read book first if you can.

by DH
(3/5)

Good book, but I think the movie was actually better. Saw the movie first, and there were some things done better in the book and vice versa. But in the end the movie wins. The Road is still the best McCarthy novel I've read.


Intriguing story, flat ending

by Dick Marti
(4/5)

This book had me hooked from beginning to end. I quickly adapted to the writing style and the absence of most punctuation. The action was so good that I kept thinking this would make a good movie---until I got to the ending, which reminded me of "Hannibal". The ending is just plain flat. What became of Chigurh? I found myself thumbing back thru the book to see if I had missed something. It's a good read, worth 4 stars.


Morality Thriller (generic spoiler)

by Donal Fagan
(5/5)

At first, No Country read like another, "average Joe finds bag of money" yarn. Eventually I realized how the Sheriff's war story matched his life of service as a peace officer. Heroic as he was, he just couldn't save those that were already either dying or dead.I had already been exposed to McCarthy's very spare punctuation by reading The Road, but I wasn't prepared for this lingering study of many violent deaths. The descriptions of hovering, inexorable death still haunt me when I'm alone.


"Bad people can't be governed at all."

by E. Bukowsky "booklover10"
(4/5)

Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" is set on the Texas-Mexican border, and his description of the desolate, raw, and forbidding landscape serves as the perfect backdrop for the catastrophic events that ensue. This is a good vs. evil narrative with an allegorical component. The good is exemplified by Sheriff Bell, a man of integrity whose musings appear throughout the book in italics. He served in World War II, is devoted to his beloved wife, Loretta, and now tries to keep the peace in his normally quiet county.Everything changes one day when a welder named Llewelyn Moss comes upon a scene of carnage while hunting antelope near the Rio Grande. It seems that a drug deal involving Mexican black tar, a type of heroin, went terribly wrong. Instead of going home and reporting the incident to the police, Moss decides to take a case filled with millions of dollars. He soon finds out that he has brought a heap of trouble on himself and his wife, Carla Jean.The elusive Anton Chigurh, a one-man execution squad, represents evil. He is after Moss, not only to retrieve the drug money, but also to punish Moss for having the temerity to inconvenience him. Chigurh is a man who murders anyone who gets in his way, and he sometimes kills people for no reason at all. He calmly tells one victim, "When I came into your life, your life was over." This insidiously brilliant and remorseless sociopath is like a ghost. He appears and disappears at will, and he remains, at all times, several steps ahead of the hapless authorities."No Country for Old Men" is about a nation that has lost its moral center. Bell represents the old fashioned values of integrity, hard work, community, and compassion that have helped make America such a great country. Chigurh represents a new culture of narcissism, greed, isolation, self-gratification, and violence. After seeing the result of this criminal's sadistic handiwork, Bell is almost at a loss for words.The cryptic writing style is unusual and it takes some getting used to. Eschewing quotation marks completely, the author has Moss, the sheriff, and others speak in their native Southern dialects, complete with misspellings and incorrect grammar, and McCarthy often switches from one character to another without the normal transitions. Fortunately, he includes some passages in the third person that help clarify the plot to some extent. However, much more is implied than is stated, and the reader must work hard to make sense of it all.McCarthy's understated eloquence, sharply delineated characters, and weighty themes lend "No Country for Old Men" undeniable power and resonance. This novel is an allegory for the sickness of our times, when the fabric of American society has been torn to shreds in so many ways. A reporter asks Sheriff Bell, "How come you let crime get so out of hand in your county?" He answers, "It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners." The author makes us think about many things in addition to bad manners, such as fate, luck, the unfortunate choices we make, religious belief, and death. It's a heavy load for one book, but McCarthy's thoughtfulness and unique vision make it work.


An Excellent Work, but far from his Best

by Edward W. Jawer
(4/5)

Cormac McCarthy's excellent new Novel, "No Country for Old Men" is receiving generally outstanding reviews. That it is indeed a fine piece of work, should not assure readers that he is at his best here.The Story: A lone hunter finds in the desert, the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong. He arrives to find dead bodies, burnt out cars, and two million in cash. When he leaves the scene with the money, the story is in play. In a whirlwind of non stop action, the tragedy unfolds, and leads to its sad conclusion. Although different in style and content from previous work, it continues to explore violence, goodness, and godliness, themes which have pervaded his work almost from the beginning.As in the earlier tales from the Border Trilogy, we have the adventurer, innocent of the role he plays. There are the Violent and Cruel, whose roles are less rather to bring any sense of justice, than to live out their legacy of barbaric cruelty. Lastly, there is "Chorus", here in the form of the gentle Sheriff, who between his crusade against evil, plays Thespian to the reader, a much used tactic in McMarthy's work.Among the loyal group of readers who consider Cormack McCarthy's work unique and monumental, there is a larger segment that has shown marked indifference. How Unfortunate. McMarthy has found a way to integrate spellbinding storytelling, with a core belief that violence by man against man is neither caused, nor judged by God, and that the Lord is impassive in the face of evil. He who judges and acts is man himself, guided by a force within him; his own personal God or Devil.What lessens this work is the relative absence of character development, which has shone so brightly in earlier work. "Blood Meridian", as violent and bloody a work in recent memory, pictures a man, (Judge Holden), as a supreme example of the Devil on Earth. Cruel beyond description, he was revealed nevertheless, as a man one felt as a real and compelling person. In The Border Trilogy , characters came alive with such force that a reader could feel a kinship, with even the minor people who drifted in and out of the scenarios."No Country for Old Men" is new McCarthy, this time a pulp fiction page turner, with twists, and even comic interludes. Missing however is the genius McCarthy can evoke when he records the plain and idiomaic speech of his actors, and which brings them so brightly to life.In the end, McCarthy continues his assertion that God, or the Devil will reveal himself as he inhabits every man. Men are born, and grow, with God and truth in their bones, or soulless and depraved, and neither can be learned or instilled.


Blasphemy - the movie is better than the book!

by Eliza Bennet
(3/5)

No Country for Old Men was fascinating storytelling, but not easy to read. It was riveting, stark, violent, and very suspenseful. The author created unusual characters - Bell, Moss, and Chigurh. Bell and Moss both were offered with different levels of character flaws, and both were likable in their own ways. Chigurh was a machine with only slight glimpses of humanity, very well drawn. The drawback of the book is that Cormac McCarthy didn't use quotation marks around the dialog, a literary device that drives me crazy when trying to read. After finishing it, I watched the movie. While I could answer questions that my companion had about the story that wasn't explained well, I liked the screen version better. Perhaps though, reading the book first is the way to better enjoy the movie. This book is recommended, especially to fans of Cormac McCarthy.


Shoot em up with cowboys and a great plot

by Elkin "Elkin"
(4/5)

This Cormac McCarthy story was also great (The Road was also a good one)! In this book, he tells the tale of what would happen if you ran into a jackpot! That is what the main character runs into, a jackpot (suitcase full of money), but, is it really worth it is the question Cormac poses to the reader. The story is also sprinkled with great dialogue and interesting characters, like the psychotic killer and the proud sheriff. All in all, it is an awesome story, and I highly recommend it.


Distracting problems with the plot

by Eric Maroney
(4/5)

Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men certainly doesn't let the reader down in several crucial areas of novel construction. Tone, setting, character, are impeccably drawn. McCarthy has a unique way of situating his characters in a time and place, so much so that pulling them out of it would not only be absurd, but stupid. Sheriff Bell's soliloquies are an excellent example. From them, the novel gets much of its moral,temporal and local tone. Sheriff Bell gets to comment on the general action, providing a mooring frame for the reader. It really couldn't have been done any better.If the novel slips anywhere, it is on the level of plot, and to a lesser degree, character motivation. Why do the bodies of the drug dealers stay so long out in the desert, and why must be return to them three times? Why does Carson Wells essentially hand himself over to Chigurh? Why does the novel turn away from Moss' killing, smothering it in remembrances and the chatter of other characters?These are small flaws, perhaps, but they do mar this novel. They prevent No Country from Old Men from being a great novel; they knock it down a peg to the ranks of the very good novel.


Stripped-Down Storytelling

by Eric Wilson "novelist"
(5/5)

After watching the film version of this book, I decided to go back and dig deeper by reading the novel. I'm glad I did."No Country for Old Men" is stripped-down storytelling, sparse in punctuation and narrative, giving the tale a raw rhythm that I found amazing. Slipped in between scenes of chilling action, we get glimpses into the introspective reflections of a sheriff who has to deal with the aftermath of changing morals--and lack thereof. Some readers seem to find those passages boring, whereas I found them to be great commentaries on a shifting mindset in our society.The story itself is reflected accurately (for the most part) in the film. Moss, a tough-minded man who never backs down from a challenge, finds himself in possession of over two million dollars after stumbling upon a vicious scene in the desert. Soon, he is being hunted by a man with no remorse. Chigurh is a ruthless creation, one that McCarthy pulls off to amazing effect. As Moss and Chigurh's paths veer toward a confrontation, others pay the price by getting in the way.The movie varied on some minor elements, but each of those elements annoyed me in the movie. While the film is done masterfully on many levels, that string of inconsistencies left me frustrated by the end. The book, on the other hand, does not make those missteps. It gives us more info where we need it, and doesn't try to manufacture the false suspense (such as Chigurh behind the hotel room door) that the movie attempted.After reading the equally sparse, yet hopeful, "The Road," I find myself as moved by McCarthy's ability in this bone-chilling story with a moral thread that tries to find purchase through the sheriff's voice. It's time for me to go back and explore more of this writer's intriguing voice.


This man can write

by E.S. Kraay "I yam what I yam."
(4/5)

Traveling home from Peru several months ago, a fellow traveler told me that Blood Meridian was ranked the #1 book in the 20th century. I'd not read anything my Cormac McCarthy and decided to start out with No Country for Old Men simply because I liked the title. I am a slow reader, but I could not put this book down and finished it in record time. The story is interesting, but I absolutely love the way Mr. McCarthy writes. I can think of no better example of "word economy" than his prose. Mr. McCarthy refuses to waste words. As a result, this book was fast-paced and to the point. Character development was taut and as rapid as the story itself.I've found a new author, and I began The Road the following evening. Looking for a good story? This will fill the bill. As importantly, Mr. McCarthy's prose will not waste your time. I've read authors who need 1,000 pages to tell a 100 page story. Mr. McCarthy chooses his words wisely and will take you through the tale with no time to spare. Good book, good story, good characters, great writing.


A deceptively simple story with anything-but-simple implications

by gammyraye
(4/5)

The surface story is simple: Llewelyn, an amiable young welder, goes hunting and happens upon the scene of a drug deal gone wrong in the middle of the West-Texas badlands. With dead bodies everywhere, he discovers the money, over $2 million. He decides to keep it. Bad decision.Now everyone is after Llewelyn--the drug suppliers, the drug buyers, and the conscientious Sheriff Bell, who realizes Llewelyn's danger and feels duty-bound to try to help him. The mysterious Chigurh becomes the hand of fate, dispensing "justice" as he sees it. Sheriff Bell is his opposite, as he attempts to dispense "mercy."On the other hand, No Country for Old Men is more complicated than it at first appears because it operates on so many levels. It is a first-rate crime thriller, in the Raymond Chandler style. It is an examination of the life-consequences of decisions. It is a meditation on aging and on changing culture. Even the title can be viewed from different perspectives. It is the first line of a poem by Yeats, in which he uses a voyage to Byzantium to symbolize a late-life quest to examine his own soul. The title can also be understood to reflect the inability of Sheriff Bell to comprehend and defeat modern evils.After I read a Cormac McCarthy novel, I always vow to myself never to read another one. He is depressing; he is ultra-violent. But his prose is so good, so powerful. His novels have multiple implications. They stay in your mind.


Badlands

by Gary Griffiths
(5/5)

"No Country for Old Men" is a powerful and poignant novel that you'll not easily forget.Llewelyn Moss is a young Texan welder who, while hunting, comes across a multiple murder with over $2M in cash left from an apparent drug deal gone bad. Narrowly escaping the owners returning to the scene to reclaim their "product" and cash, this is ostensibly the story of Moss' life on the run as he flees with the booty. But any similarity to this and standard pop thriller fare ends with this loose plot: McCarthy builds a brutal an unforgiving story with equal doses of social commentary, homespun southwestern wisdom, frustration, and despair. This is forceful literature wrapped in western shell.McCarthy's staccato dialogue in Texan slang is as bleak and unadorned as the southwest Texas borderland of which he writes. Few fictional bad guys can rival McCarthy's Anton Chigurh, the psychopathic hired assassin who leaves an untold number of dead in his wake dispatched through his own twisted brand of justice. On the other side of the ledger, aging county Sheriff Ed Tom Bell muses philosophically on his inadequacies in combating a drug trade that has spiraled far out of control, and an increasing permissive culture spinning more rapidly into decline. McCarthy lures us into the trap of believing this is another tired tale of revenge and redemption, and then hits the unsuspecting reader with twists as subtle as a head shot from Chigurh's ubiquitous cattle prod. The colloquial dialogue and somewhat non-linearity of the story requires some concentration, but therein lies much of this story's power and appeal. "No Country for Old Men" is not a "pretty" novel: McCarthy is not here to inspire or send a message of hope, justice, or fairness. He simply tells it like it is.


An amoral thriller

by Gary Malone
(3/5)

It is said that when the nineteenth-century Spanish General Narvaez was asked on his deathbed if he forgave his enemies, his response was: 'I have none. I have had them all shot.' Towards the end of Cormac McCarthy's novel, when hired gun Anton Chigurh declares: 'I have no enemies. I don't permit such a thing', the same thing is meant. [p. 253]Chigurh is a killer pursuing trailer-trash Texan Llewllyn Moss. Moss has stumbled upon a drug deal gone wrong whilst out hunting antelope one day. A trail of dead bodies leads him to a briefcase with a seven-figure sum of cash in it. Moss decides to run off with the loot: the chase begins. In the background, ageing sherrif Tom Bell laments the whirlpool of violence he has thus been sucked into. His thoughts and reminiscences crenelate the sequence of chapters, providing what is meant to be the moral centre of the book.I bought this book for two reasons. Reviews indicated that it was both an excellent thriller, and a story that had a moral undergirding. In summary: it had a good plot and it left you with something to think about.As a thriller, the book is certainly superior to nearly anything you'd see on the shelves these days. It moves at a cracking, almost impatient pace and hardly lags for a moment. But one could scarcely say that the McGuffin driving the plot is original. A stolen/pursued briefcase (typically full of cash) has been done to death before in novels and films such as Psycho, What's Up Doc, Pulp Fiction, Ronin, A Simple Plan, and (surprise, surprise) Fargo.Anton Chigurh is the main character in a book with no heroes. Although he is an arch-villain, it's fairly plain that McCarthy has not written him with the intention that the reader should despise him. Rather, his aura is one of awe-inspiring turpitude, and his image is consecrated with all the most ruthlessly cool dialogue and scene-stealing moments. While dispatching a victim 'Chigurh shot him three times so fast it sounded like one long gunshot' [p. 103]; after he climbs seventeen flights of stairs he is 'breathing no harder than if he'd just got up out of a chair' [p. 198]; moments after being blasted from a distance by Chigurh, Moss says to himself: 'Damn, what a shot.' [p. 114] Even his victims admire him: this is Anton Der Ubermensch.But Chigurh's character has been sketched too hurriedly. The much-misunderstood word 'psychopath' is hurled about. Anyone familiar with the writings of Dr. Robert Hare on the issue would know that most diagnosable psychopaths are not luridly violent, merely ruthlessly unprincipled and self-serving. Yet on p. 141 we have Carson Wells (whom seems to know Chigurh better than anyone else in the book) profiling him as 'psychopathic' and then twelve pages later telling Moss that 'You could even say that he has principles.' That's just lazy.So awful is Chigurh that his moral surroundings must be correspondingly lowered: half the people he kills are themselves criminals, and his main nemeses are a sheriff with a dark past (Bell) and a thief and manslaughterer (Moss, who manages to unknowingly shoot an old lady [see p. 151]). This backdrop serves the dual purpose of (i) not making Chigurh look too cartoonishly evil; and (ii) not alienating this chicly fascinating killer from the reader too much. Thus, one gets the impression that in creating Chigurh McCarthy first and foremost set out to deliberately create an impressively amoral black hole in human form, but then allowed the gravitational field exerted by him to morally distort the characters around him. That smacks of poor discipline.Despite these cavils, however, the book is written with a wonderfully laconic style that makes for very brisk and engrossing reading. Where many other authors would have gone into distracting descriptions of the largely irrelevant, McCarthy has been wisely economic with the details. The plot ends in a bizarrely unsatisfactory way, and it's not clear what sort of lesson we're meant to draw from it all. Thus one could say that the story lacks a moral. And morals.


Watch the movie then read this

by G. David Hanks "BG DAVE"
(5/5)

This is a fantastic book that was made into a very good movie. McCarthy is not for everyone. He is dark, violent, and his punctuation is . . .unique. The voice is great and the characters are unforgettable. The scene between Anton and Wells is searing.


A fast paced thriller

by George Hamilton "Author of: Secrets From The ...
(3/5)

No slow start in this thriller - the murder of a deputy and escape of a sadistic killer; the fortuitous find by the hunter, Moss, amidst the corps of a Mexican drugs war gone wrong; propels the reader into the heart of the action immediately. But then Moss makes a stupid decision, and the hunter becomes the hunted.The writing style is spare, with short clipped sentences that help to keep the action moving apace.Sheriff Bell is investigating the deaths, which are occurring all over the state, and he is trying to get to Moss before the sadistic killer does. He appears to have an affinity for Moss and his young wife, Carla Jean, it could be because they remind him of himself and his wife when they were younger. But as the gruesome end unfolds, we learn that Sheriff Bell carries a secret, he made an error of judgment when he was younger and it has haunted him all his life, and he wants to save Moss and Carla Jean from making a similar error.I enjoyed the novel, but I think the film was better, mainly because whilst a film can be carried by plot and action, I think a novel needs to be carried by a stronger theme throughout. The theme which links Moss' actions to actions taken by Sheriff Bell when he was younger feels tagged on near the end. A week after finishing this book I wasn't still thinking about the theme in the way I did when I read The Road by the same author.George Hamilton is author of Secrets From The Dust


Good writer - unsatisfactory book

by G "Gnostic"
(3/5)

McCarthy's appeal is lost on me. I have read a lot of fiction and poetry and have written one review (of a poetry collection) for a literature journal. The start of "No Country for Old Men" is excellent. It reminded me of James Crumley's early work and "The Last Good Kiss" and the "Wrong Case" should be read by everyone who likes what I refer to as junk (pulp/noir) literature. And junk literature is my favorite genre. I had high hopes for "No Country" and McCarthy does write well. Moss is an appealing character but ultimately his actions are unbelievable. He is a Vietnam (three tours) sniper who doesn't drop the hammer on a killer? Ultimately the nihilism and the holes in the plot overwhelm what could have been a great novel. Also, the character of the invincible, soulless killer is trite and threadbare. Evil men exist but here we have a dreary demon. Also, some of the weapons mentioned which are common now would not have been available in the mid "80's" -- which I think is the time period in which the novel is set. In fact, the novel actually seems to occur in some alternate universe. Ultimately, I think it succeeds only as an allegory of evil, unresolved and boring. The hero does not have to triumph or even survive but we need to have learned something about a life, or living, if a novel is to be successful.


A novel with excellent writing and depth

by G. Henson
(5/5)

This is an excellently written novel. McCarthy not only can plot a riveting story, but he creates characters that are strikingly believable. Some of the more evil ones can scare from the page. Like McCarthy's "The Road," many of these characters are loners who want to believe they are islands unto themselves, but find their lives intersecting with those of others. Many of the characters are unsavory, and with the possible exception of Sheriff Bell, I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time with them, but nonetheless you are interested in the outcome of their lives. McCarthy is not, however, who ties everything up with a bow, but also readers will be hard pressed to say they saw the various endings of those lives coming. This one may not be for everybody, but I find McCarthy to be one of the best authors of his day along with James Lee Burke.


Dark masterpiece

by Glenn Russell
(5/5)

My first contact with this work of fiction was listening to a podcast with 3 young philosophers and Eric Petrie, a university professor who has made a study of Cormac McCarthy's dark novel set in Texas in 1980. This fascinating discussion motivated me not only to read the book but listen to the audiobook performed by Tom Stechschulte. I'm glad I did. Stechschute's reading is spot-on, particularly his portrayal of one of the main characters, a good old boy by the name of Sherriff Bell.Since there are over 500 reviews here already, in the spirit of freshness, I'd like to share a few observations of a philosophical nature. My observations are in light of what a contemporary British philosopher, Simon May, has to say about the nature of love. According to May, love isn't what philosophers like Plato say it is, that is, love being a longing for the Good and Beautiful; rather, May argues love has a wider range: we fall in love inspired by an anchoring for our life, giving us a home in the world. Such a love is worth dying for, since we want so much to be rooted in the world with a feeling of being fully alive.So, keeping Simon May's idea of love in mind, let's take a look at McCarthy's novel. An entire essay could be written for each main character, but, in the interest of concision, I'll limit my remarks to a few sentences on each man's way of living and loving:Llewelyn Moss is a 37 year old welder who served as a sniper in the army in Viet Nam. Moss is out in the desert with his sniper rifle hunting game when he sees something unusual off in the distance--- a bunch of cars and trucks. He walks down to have a closer look and finds the aftermath of a drug deal gone bad - men and even dogs filled with bullets and covered with blood. Moss then comes across a briefcase filled with $100 bills. He takes the money and knows this is the moment his life will be changed forever. Why would he do such a thing? I see one big reason Moss takes the money is that by such action he will be skyrocketed into a world where the intensity of being alive (or, put another way, his love of intensity) is a thousand times greater than being a welder. Having had an experience of life-and-death intensity in Viet Nam, Moss knows the feeling well.Anton Chigurh, also a Viet Nam veteran, is the man from the drug world who comes after Moss. As we follow Chigurh in the story, it quickly becomes clear he sees himself as a grim-reaper; anybody who stands before him, if he so chooses, has come face-to-face with their own death. Well, not exactly his choice alone. Chigurh will occasionally flip a coin and ask the person to call it. Chigurh lives by a standard of life-and-death honesty to his promises and expects others to do the same. If anybody else shows the least hesitation to face their own choices in life and/or the reality of their own death, then, well, by Chigurh's standards, they might as well be dead. We would have to go a long way to find a character in literature, perhaps Richard III, who is equally the embodiment of pure evil. Love? Chigurh loves death, true necrophilia, and shares his love whenever the occasion presents itself - in the course of this McCarthy novel, Chigurh kills men and women left and right.Sheriff Bell is a World War II veteran who sees his county losing its moral glue. And moral glue anchors Sherriff Bell's life and gives him a home in the world. He reflects toward the end of the story, "These old people I talk to, if you could of told em that there would be people on the streets of our Texas towns with green hair and bones in their noses speakin a language they couldnt even understand, well, they just flat out wouldnt of believed you. But what if you'd of told em it was their own grandchildren?" We also learn what especially anchors Bell's life (what Bell loves) is a prime military virtue: loyalty to your men. And Bell tells his old uncle his regret in life -- when a Sergeant in the war he had a choice: stick with his men or save his own life. Since overwhelming odds were all of his men were dead, he made the choice to save himself by leaving. Bell says he has been reflecting on this event over the years and concludes he violated the code of loyalty. He goes on to say that if he had to do it over again, he would have stayed with his men and died.These observations about the nature of love and grounding one's life are made as a kind of invitation for anybody to read this novel and see where you stand philosophically on these matters. Is love only love for the Beautiful and Good, or can love have, as Simon May puts forth (and illustrated by the objects of love of these 3 men in the novel), a more expansive and even darker range?


A Song for the Aging

by Grady Harp
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthy in his current novel NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN distills all that was fine in his previous novels, siphoning off the rambling verbal romance with the countryside, and keying in on character in a manner far more successful than ever. His language is so pungent and spare while saying volumes that this book could literally be turned into a script for a film without much doctoring. He tells a fascinatingly gory tale of crime in the realm of drug trafficking along the border of Texas and Mexico, a story so vividly painted in words that the reader may feel the need to turn the head aside to avoid the gruesome details, and yet excellent as this narrative is, the main punch that makes this novel so fine is the use of italicized musings by one old Sheriff Bell who reflects on the changes in his hometown and in the resultant spirit of mankind which seems to be heading toward destruction of society as we know (or have known) it.The story involves youngish welder Lewellyn Moss who happens across murdered bodies and cars, finding an obvious heroin deal gone bad, the money for the payoff (some 2+ million dollars) left behind in a bag. In a moment of fate Moss decides to take the money and run, telling only his wife of his plans. How he proceeds through the chase by special agents and one evil plunderer who kills everything in his path that deters his seizing the money is the grisly bulk of the story. No sooner do we meet characters than they are killed - and the path of death spreads out like a plague from the intial site of the drug deal.This is as descriptive and entrancing a crime novel as you will find, but that doesn't seem to be McCarthy's driver. A consummate storyteller, he pauses at various times during this story to allow the reader to breathe and during each entr'acte he places words in the language of Bell that muse on how war changes men, how decisions made spontaneously can cripple the mind for life, and how the current (set in the 1980s) climate has become so violent that salvation may not be feasible. The wisdom falls simply out of the mouths of the old men: "You think when you wake up in the morning yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it's made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who's layin there?" And on the subject of war: "I was too young for one war and too old for the next one. But I seen what come out of it. You can be patriotic and still believe that some things cost more than what they're worth. Ask them Gold Star mothers what they paid and what they got for it. You always pay too much. Particularly for promises. There aint no such thing as a bargain promise....I always thought when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didnt. I dont blame him. If I was him I'd have the same opinion about me he does."Cormac McCarthy's ease of writing here makes this particular novel utterly irresistible. Few writers can match the naturalness of his prose and poetry of his content. In this reader's opinion, this is McCarthy's finest achievement. Recommended without reservation. Grady Harp, August 05


Overt Cynicism Bogs Down an Otherwise Compelling Novel

by Gregory Baird
(3/5)

Picture one of those super-violent torture movies (Hostel, Saw, The Hills Have Eyes, etc.), slap on a veneer of philosophical thinking and a dose of genuine writing skill and you've got a pretty good idea of what you'll find in Cormac McCarthy's neo-western epic "No Country for Old Men." Perhaps it's not quite fair to equate this book to those torture movies since there are no scalpel-or-hacksaw-wielding maniacs, creepy desert mutants, or elaborate traps that will force you to cut off your own foot to escape, but I do feel that the comparison is appropriate because make no mistake, these characters are being made to suffer, and suffer they do. Brain matter and viscera spray the walls more than once, the phrase "right between the eyes" becomes a grim - and frequent - reality, and bodies are so riddled with bullets that it feels like watching Sonny Corleone get shot up at the turnstile over and over again. The villain even finds some creatively gruesome uses for a cattle gun.That villain is a ruthless killer by the name of Anton Chigurh (which is apparently pronounced like `sugar') - and boy is he a nasty one. There are only a handful of literary villains powerful enough that their presence can give you goose-bumps, and Chigurh is one of them. Too bad he lacks the personality and/or back-story of, say, a Hannibal Lecter that would have made him qualify as a truly classic bad guy. Caught up in his path is Llewellyn Moss, a hardened and hard-up Vietnam vet who comes across more than two million dollars and a load of heroin in the back of a van whose drivers have been shot up and left for dead. Why was the van's cargo left behind by the people who did the shooting? We aren't meant to ask questions like that, I guess. Needless to say, Llewellyn takes the money and runs afoul of both Chigurh and the Mexican dope-dealers who are also after it - endangering not only his life, but that of his saintly young wife, Carla Jean. Yet while all of the action takes place between Chigurh and Llewellyn, the main protagonist is actually Sheriff Bell, a WWII vet whose musings on the carnage left by Chigurh frame the novel and help get across its themes. Too bad his storyline feels so disparate since he's perpetually two or three steps behind the people he is chasing."I believe that whatever you do in your life it will get back to you. If you live long enough it will." Punishment is a major theme in "No Country for Old Men." Are the bad things that happen to us actually retribution for past sins? How, then, do we explain the bad things that happen to good people? Why are they being punished too? Does God exist, and if so how could he allow such terrible things to occur? These are meaty questions that deserve to be asked, but ultimately this novel is too cynical to be very poignant. I never would have thought it possible for McCarthy to write a bleaker book than his Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Road," but darned if this one isn't it. The difference, and what makes "The Road" a masterpiece and "No Country" a misfire, is that every page of "The Road" has a consuming sense of hope burning through to the reader even in its darkest moments. "No Country for Old Men" is just a relentless downer.Grade: C-


More Casualties in the War on Drugs

by Grey Wolffe "Zeb Kantrowitz"
(4/5)

From reading synopsies of this book you would think it was about drugs, drug money and manhunts. But though the books raps around a busted drug deal and $2.4 million that's gone missing, it's really about America and what is happening to this country as a result of drugs and the Drug Cartels. All the violence in the book (of which there is more than enough to keep Sam Pekinpah happy) goes down to the lust for money and the people who are involved in this trade having little or no regard for other peoples lives.Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (a WW2 ETO veteran) has been the law in his county for most of the last thirty odd years (and before that his daddy was). He has seen how the drug trade has encroached on the west Texas desert towns and its effect on everyone and everything. People begin to mind their own business and/or fear for their lives when they hear cars and planes moving in the desert at night. The money that the trade brings can by anything and anyone.When three cars are found outside of his hometown with eight or nine dead bodies, they cars all shot up with illegal machine pistols, and both the drugs and money missing; everyone knows that someone will come looking for both, and it won't be pretty if they don't find it.The money is found by Llwellyn Moss (a 'Nam vet and ex-sniper) who was out hunting for antelope when he found the cars and bodies. He's 36, a part- time mechanic, with a nineteen year old wife; and he knows that some one will want that money back, and they are not going to ask nicely.McCarthy does a great job with Wells and Moss, but the other main character and boy is he one is named Chigurh (rhymes with sugar) and he is just to much of a psychopath to be believable. He's what we called in 'Nam, a 'phantom' or 'ghost'. These were special forces guys who would go out into 'Indian Country-the boonies' and execute North Vietnamese and Viet Cong officers. Many of them lived in the 'highlands' with the 'Yards(the Hmong) and hardly ever came back 'inside'. They were reputed to have been used in Laos, Cambodia, the North and even infiltrated into China to wreck havoc with the transportation systems bringing weapons into North Vietnam. These guys were scary, we used to say they had yellow eyes that glowed in the dark. Nobody, messed with these guys.He therefore is not a believable character. They are just not sociable enough even to be a hitman because they are too unstable. The FBI/CIA/ATF has been reported to have taken more than one of them out because they represented a clear and present danger to the country. But because he represents evil incarnate, it makes the book seem more like a fantasy then a modern story of good and evil.Interesting but not quite up to the Trilogy.


This is a great book

by Grey W. Satterfield Jr.
(5/5)

Until recently, I had not read any of McCarthy's books but In recent weeks I have read both, "The Road" and now, "No Country for Old Men." I confess that it was the Coen brothers' great film version of No Country, which got me onto McCarthy. I'm glad it did.As others have noted, "No Country for Old Men" is dense and, at times, hard to understand. So is the movie. Nevertheless, this story is a richly rewarding exploration into the randomness of life, the unintended consequences our actions often bring about, and sheer, terrifying evil.The story traces Llewellyn Moss from his finding $2.4 million as a result of having come upon the scene of a drug deal gone wrong. Unfortunately for Llewellyn, this places him between the Mexican drug dealers who were selling the drugs, and Anton Chigurh, who had been hired to recover the money for the buyers.Chigurh is one of literature's more chilling characters. He is very smart, his ability to avoid detection and do what he wishes almost occult. He is also remorseless and so crazy that, as a character in the book asks right before Chigurh kills him, "Do have any idea how f*****g crazy you are?" Chigurh is a force of nature, a perfect storm of evil. At another time, when someone asks him about his enemies, Chigurh explains, "I don't have enemies, I take care of them." Indeed, Chigurh ruthlessly kills anyone he encounters who might be able to link him to one of his many brutal crimes. His weapon of choice is a pneumatically powered stun gun, of the sort used on cattle in slaughter houses.Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is another memorable character. He is the sheriff of the county where Llewellyn lives with his young wife. As part of his investigation of the crime, Bell contacts Bell's wife, Carla Jean, and asks her to help him find Llewellyn. What arises from all of this is the core of the story, so I won't give it away. Suffice it to say, that it's dark and scary, like so much of the rest of the book. Bell is haunted by changing times, which he no longer understands, and the horrifying specter of Chigurh, so much so that he resigns as sheriff because he has had enough.I should add that the book is not without its share of quiet humor. Some of the dialog is slyly funny, which satisfied me as to why the Coen brothers found it appealing.The critical acclaim and many awards this book has received were richly deserved, it seems to me. "No Country for Old Men" is by any measure a great book. Highly recommended.


action-packed western thriller

by Harriet Klausner
(5/5)

In 1980, Llewelyn Moss hunts antelope in Western Texas near the Rio Grande. However, instead of locating a buck, Moss finds several corpses, a major heroin stash and $2.4 million. Moss figures finder's keepers and takes the cash leaving behind the dead and the illegal drugs figuring both could be more trouble than he wants to deal with.However the cartel that owns the money sends former Special Forces soldier Wells to find the loot and kill the thief. They also send vicious killing machine, psychopathic poster boy Chigurh to insure the thief is brutalized. Finally, aging Sheriff Bell seeks Moss for questioning and to keep him alive.Several years have passed since Cormac McCarthy completed his fabulous Border Trilogy. The highly regarded author returns to the same locale with the thrilling NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. The four prime testosterone players are potent protagonists who the audience anticipates a convergance while wondering who will be left standing once the war turns full throttle. Fans of modern-day High Noon will enjoy this action-packed western thriller from the moment Moss becomes the prey of two totally different professionals and the title character sheriff ready to retire, but still doing his duty.Harriet Klausner


Literature at its best

by H. Cassell
(5/5)

There's so much to this novel that any review or description will fail to do it justice. McCarthy does many things with near perfection: dialogue (oh! his dialogue!), suffering, the American West, doom, beauty, humor, and violence, to name only a handful. All of these familiar, essential McCarthy elements are present here, but this is a different kind of book than McCarthy has written before."No Country for Old Men" is a thriller but it resists so many of the temptations and cliches of popular thrillers. It is gritty and violent, without reveling in its violence; its bad guy is chillingly evil without being boastfully so; and Sheriff Bell is the right combination of admirable guy and flawed hero. It is also quicker and easier to read than McCarthy's previous novels, but to read it superficially would be a mistake, as you'll miss so many powerful literary allusions that dot the landscape. Even though you know how this novel is going to end (more or less), McCarthy keeps you engaged with taut writing and mesmerizing prose. Not many writers have that ability.Cormac McCarthy isn't for everyone, with his disdain for quotation marks and apostrophes, the improper (but true to life) grammar that invades characters' speech, and the affinity he has for creating compoundwords. He gives few introductions to his characters and their circumstances, leaving much for the reader to deduce alone--quite a change from typical dumbed-down fiction.I think the best parts of McCarthy's books are the endings. Things don't fall perfectly into place and there's a lot of room for interpretation. I much prefer this to force-fed, off-into-the-sunset conclusions that are so appealing to writers. I wonder what those who complained so heatedly about it were expecting? Well, not to worry, when it comes to a big screen near you (as it undoubtedly will), Hollywood in all its infinite wisdom will surely slap a conclusion on it that Answers All Your Questions.I finished this book two days ago and I'm thinking about it. That, to me, is a hallmark of great fiction, which "No Country for Old Men" is.


A Page-turner

by H. F. Corbin "Foster Corbin"
(5/5)

A reviewer once said tht the people Bobbie Ann Mason writes about would never read her novels. The same could be said of the characters in Cormac McCarthy's latest novel. For me such a statement is not a criticism of either writer. McCarthy's people lead hard, blue-collar lives. They eat open-faced roast beef sandwiches with gravy and mashed potatoes, along with "soupbeans" and "good cornbread." As boys they played "mumbledypeg." They lie on "pallets." They don't have a dog "in this hunt"McCarthy creates the character of Llewelyn Moss, a thirty-six-year-old welder married to Carla Jean, who at nineteen is wise beyond her years. He happens quite by accident upon two million dollars in drug money and makes a very bad decision, i.e., he decides to keep the cash, thereby setting the stage for a catastrophe, not only for him but a lot of other people as well.Each chapter in this tightly written narrative as sparse as the Texas landscape McCarthy writes about opens with the thoughts of Sheriff Bell, a friend of Moss, and who has the impossible task of trying to stop the hemorrhaging of illegal drugs across the border from Mexico into Texas. He ultimately accepts defeat and resigns as sheriff, believing indeed, to quote Yeats, that this is no country for old men.Sheriff Bell is reminiscent of Reverend Ames in the novel GILEAD and in his own way is just as decent. He too contemplates his own mortality and the world as he sees it and is sustained by the love of a good woman. "I believe that whatever you do in your life it will get back to you. If you live long enough it will. Perhaps God only speaks only to those who need him the most. And "you fix what you can fix and you let the rest go." Bell on money: "I think I know where we're headed. We're bein bought with our own money. . . But it [money] will put you in bed with people you ought not to be there with." Finally, he praises his wife Loretta: "I reckon I thought that because I was older and the man that she would learn from me and in many respects she has. But I know where the debt lies." Bell's is not a life badly lived.If would be a shame if Clint Eastwood did not direct a movie made from this novel and play the part of Sheriff Bell.


A lucid and compelling read

by HORAK
(5/5)

While hunting near the Rio Grande Llewlyn Moss stumbles upon a heroin transaction gone wrong: trucks shot up and several dead bodies, some of them Mexican. Inside one of the trucks Moss finds a leather document case level full of hundred dollar banknotes in packets fastened with bank tape stamped each with the denomination $ 10,000. When Moss decides to leave the scene of the crime with the money little does he suspect that this is the beginning of a wild and bloody manhunt between him and Anton Chigurh who is determined to get hold of the money.Although a standard western good-guy bad-guy plot at first sight, this novel is serious literature with an absorbing and chilling plot which can be seen as a study of a burning American rage and how common that rage has become. Chigurh is a truly sinister character and the novel meditates on the fight between good and evil in men and society. McCarthy's language is stunningly economical. Characters are often defined by a single line of conversation and places made vivid within the confine of a sentence. And he is very good at capturing the tenor of the south Texan dialogue.


LITERARY NEED NOT EQUAL DISSATISFYING

by Jack Of Alltrades "Just another soul"
(1/5)

Literary novels are rarely fun to read and popular novels are rarely well crafted. This one errs on both sides of the fence. I much preferred Sisters of Glass to this one. Success can and does ruin good writers.


Dystopian Doom Drenched Fiction - But Superb Writing

by James Barton Phelps
(5/5)

I read the book once-not carefully - and knew I didn't get it. Then I read it again with some care; and when I put it down that second time it bothered me that I still didn't know what the book was really about. Then I saw the movie and it cleared up a lot of it; but there were still things I didn't understand - locations, time lines, identities., who if anyone has the money at the end of the book Above all you need a map of West Texas to follow the story; and you need to consult it often. And now I have gone back once again to clear some things up and think about what McCarthy was really trying to say, if anything. And I'm still not sure. But I need to get this review off my mind. So to the extent that McCarthy was writing for a knowing audience the book is a flop. To the extent that once again McCarthy was showing off his superb writing skills - particularly his ability to give us a dystopian story, to write doom drenched fiction it was a success. Would I read it again? Probably. Would I recommend it to you? Depends.About McCarthy as a writer: No one writing today can say so much or describe so much on one page as McCarthy - and in words of few syllables. Nor can anyone writing today bring the reader into the picture as well as McCarthy nor sketch a character as well nor write conversation so well that you can almost hear the Texas twang, the rural patois of a good old boy Texas lawman. Read a page of McCarthy describing Llewellyn Moss's first view of the scene of four burned shot-up trucks surrounded by three dead bodies and one wounded man in the Texas desert and you are right there. Listen to Sheriff Ed Tom Bell talk to his uncle Ellis and you are in the room with them. I just wish he would be clearer. Was this a requiem for the good old days in West Texas? Was it a tribute to the men of that time? Was it a study of evil? (Frankly I have the same questions in respect to his fascination with evil in the only other McCarthy books I have read - The Road and Blood Horizon ) Was sit a Jeremiad against the hippie generation? The narcotics trade? Or was it just a good story interspersed with a lot of philosophy, giving Melville a run for his money? I guess it was all of these things. But I wish now that, having put the book down, I really knew what he was trying to tell me.The obvious story is fairly clear; Moss finds the trucks and the men in the Texas desert just this side of the border. Everyone is dead except the wounded man asking for water. (Moss has none.) One of the trucks is loaded with bricks of cocaine. There is a man lying dead by a briefcase under a tree. The briefcase holds 2.3 million in hundred dollar bills. Moss takes it. He returns that night with water, but the man has been shot and the cocaine is gone. He realizes too late that he may not be alone, all terrain four wheelers with lights are in the vicinity and he is spotted. He runs. And a lot of the rest of the narrative is the chase. Obviously two sides have been cheated - one of the drugs, one of the money - and both are out to find Moss and the money. The principle agent of the chase is a psychopathic killer with almost supernatural powers - Anton Chigurth who, armed with a compressed air bottle connected to a cattle stun gun and a sawed off shotgun, manages in two hundred blood stained pages to kill Moss, his wife, his mother in law, a deputy, an innocent citizen, two or three hotel clerks, the business man behind the drug dealing - all in separate killings - and then three Mexicans in a gun fight all together; and if you can tell me after reading this book how Chigurth managed to find all these people (even though a transponder was hidden in the cash and accounts for his presence in at lest one of he killings) I'll buy you a good dinner at a place of your choice. McCarthy, being the man he thinks he is, doesn't have to explain. Chigurth just appears And there is no denouement, no satisfaction, no justice, no catharsis Though injured Chigurth just walks away out of the pages. Evil, points out McCarthy, is still out there - and always will be.That's the narrative; but it's not the story. The story is that West Texas has changed so much since the end of World War II to 1980 (the period in which the narrative is set) that it is no longer a country for old men; and that is lamentable. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a man who is sure to steal your heart, tells the story in his own words, about how things are now, how things were then, what men should be like, about his opinions on life in first person italicized ruminations which begin and end the book and which are often interspersed into the narrative. They are the guts of what McCarthy has to say about life; and they are worth reading. The rest of the stuff is just well written bloody crime stuff. You'll love Ed Tom and adore his wife Lorraine who, though unready, cheerfully goes into retirement with Ed Tom who, after thirty-five years of being a sheriff. finds it is no country for old men.JBP - December 2007


Great!

by James "Net Guy"
(5/5)

I strongly reccomend this book and movie. This author is amazing. He also wrote 'The Road' which is amazing!


Unreadable

by Jared
(1/5)

This is the second book by Cormac McCarthy I have read, and I am very disappointed and confused on why so many people like his books. I struggled to get through this book. I felt the plot was good, but the way he writes it is so boring, that it is unreadable. Just never brought me in like so many good authors do.


When hell comes to town...

by J. Bosiljevac
(5/5)

This is the story of a small town of simple people, "common as dirt," the narrator says, and he means that as a good thing, and what happens when hell comes down the road. Set along the Texas-Mexican border, the story starts when Llewelyn Moss, a welder by trade and hunter by hobby, finds in the desert amongst several bullet-riddled trucks, nine dead bodies, a trunk full of dope, and 2.4 million dollars in cash. He takes the cash, and his life and that of the town is turned inside out.This book is a lament for the old days and the old ways. The simpler times. It is about what happens to kind, faithful, honest people when they face the real evils of the modern world. The odds are not favorable when good folks face off against men who kill for a living, and the good do not fare well. But Mccarthy juxtaposes the violence and death and darkness with simple, genuine love. The point it makes is neither simple nor particularly hopeful.NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN moves like a pop crime novel, but is written and has the depth of great literature. As always, Mccarthy's description of the Texas landscape is poetic and his dialogue sharp and insightful. I read the book in two days and can't wait to see the movie.


McCarthy at his best

by J. Canestrino
(5/5)

This is Cormac McCarthy at his best. Having started with The Road and then All The Pretty Horses I was looking forward to this book. The dialogue is sparse, the scene descriptions are beautiful and the violence gratuitous. Character and plot development are better than average for the author.


When is evil too much to face?

by J. Carroll "Jack"
(4/5)

I have very conflicted feelings about this book. The stark settings and the no nonsense dialogue, the trap that money creates for Moss, the meditations of Sheriff Bell on the nature of life in the 21st century and the fact that he no longer has a place in it, are all pure genius. It is easy to enter this dark world where the tension never lets up and feel your pulse start to race as the strain Moss is under increases with each page and where anyone else may be collateral damage; McCarthy creates this world and you can't wait to escape it as each event brings you closer to the inevitable ending. The problem for me is the embodiment of all this evil is just too inhuman. I don't mean in his behavior, people are capable of great evil, rather it is the "Terminator" like approach he takes; despite wounds and circumstances that would cause a human being to lay low or give up, Chigurh continues on. It just cut into the believability a bit and I found myself being distracted by this machine-like killer, occasionally to the detriment of my involvement in the story. But I always found myself being pulled back in and even though I knew where it would all finish, I was there to the bitter end.


A remarkable MRI of America--truth not ny times

by J. Clemons "clotblaster"
(5/5)

I am one of the few of who red C.M. back in the 60's. That such a literary phenomenen could escape the radar screen of critcs and academics who were mesmerized by John Barth, T. Pynchon, Bellow etc. shows all of us that true talent, whether Beckett or Pound, is eschewed by politically correct professors et al. who have been with us for much longer than we realize. P.C. critics did not recognize his first three novels because they are, sad to say, more interested in p.c. correct authors. Sutree is a great novel, up there with The Great Gatsby and Huck Finn. I read many reviews these days who compare McCarthy with Faulkner and Hemingway. Faulkner is in a few of his novels an outstanding author: e.g. Light in August, Absalom, Absalom and to a certain extent, The Sound and the Fury( which gets A for effort but C for accomplishment). Hemingway is a good writer celebrated because he is accessible. Joyce, anyone. Has anyone read Beckett? Of course not. Updike writes well but does he have anything to say: NO. Everyone of McCarthy's novels is very good to great. But Hemingway--has any author been more overrated? He is the Southey of our time. Another factor is televison and movies--this dulled the critics'and academics' senses so that they thought Jaws and The Godfather were "great" movies---they may be, but reading critics inevitably lost all moorings, and believed that Pauline Kael was the great critic from 1950 to the present. They used her wildly erratic criteria, to analyzes novels, plays,etc. Speaking of plays: would anyone in his right mind trade any of McCarthy's novels for any of Albee's plays. Of course not. There are not Ben Jonsons in our time--we are left with critics such as Richard Eder (writing in the L.A Times) who criticized All the Pretty Horses because the Spanish was not right. His review of All the Pretty... should be studied as the way the left deals with an individual author who doesn't lionize Mexicans and makes a 16 year old white boy the unalloyedhero, who goes deep in Mexico and is able to break horses that Mexican can not. OH my god!!! As for his most recent book it, in my opininion, speaks plainly to our times. C.M. avoids illegal immigration and uses a drug deal gone awry to show us how bad people do triumph (remember Stalin or Hitler--yes they lost eventually, but what carnage they left in their wake). C.M. is saying that Sheriff Bell is only accepting REALITY. The outlaws, the miscreants, the evil ones (yes, there is evil) are not only becoming dominant, but the good ones like the Sheriff are helpless to stop them. Think 9/ll, British transport, Spanish train, Iran, N. Korea, China(flying below the radar because big business makes tons of moolah). Today we have drugs innudating our country--but what drug does C.M. choose to focus on: cheap, diluted Mexican Heroin. We live in cheapened times, where crystal meth is the fastest growing drug in America. While the Fed. government, spends billions to supposedly interdict foreign drug imports, right here in our own back yard drugs are made, sold and used. How much money does the gov't spend on cheap heroin from Mexico (almost none, because to do so would be politically incorrect or meth manufactured ubiquitously in the U.S.? virtually nil. Better to keep the sheep population of America worried about cocaine from Columbia and heroin from Afghanistan.MCarthy's book is both truth and a parable. Chirgurrah is real and we may not be in danger of gun shots in the forehead, but we are in danger of devauling life, so that murderers are celebrated (thing Dead Man Walking) and death is a celebrity (o.j., peterson etc.). Americans can't come home and read Shakespeare or Keats, because, like Meth., t.v. and dvds it is easier to addict to cheap thrills, reaching its nadir in reality t.v. The L.A. Times, the New York times couldn't thrash Old Men, but their degraded politics made it impossible for them to praise this novel which reveals so much about what we are willing to tolerate, unless the heartless killer hits us (he wont,will he?). He doesn't have to kill us physically,because our souls are already rotting and most are dead. Read the book. It's easy. Read it again and try to find a Hugh Kenner to explain it to you."


Gave this old man a few more gray hairs

by Jean E. Pouliot
(5/5)

First of all, if you saw the movie adaptation of this marvelous book, you'll realize just how faithful the film version was to the Cormac's plot and characters. I can't swear to it, but it was almost a scene for scene, word for word adaptation. Second, the story stands on its own, apart from the film's visuals. Cormac McCarthy's bleak vision of the modern world, voiced by the narrator, Sherriff Ed Bell, leaves no doubt that he thinks life was better in the old days. Today's world -- in which lack of respect for authority, tradition and the land figure sharply - is becoming less and less habitable for people like Bell. He understands his world less and less. But he understands enough to know what he is up against in Anton Chigurh - the remorseless killer on the loose on the Texas plains."No Country for Old Men" can be read as hairy yarn about a drug deal gone bad and one good man's decision to deviate from the path of light. But the book is a reflection on death, old age and change as well. Like death, Chigurh is cleverly cruel, relentless, unstoppable and shows partiality for neither age nor gender. He deals death with a facility and cool brutality that is stunning and stomach turning. Only by dumb chance can his predations be deferred.I listened to the unabridged audio version of the book. Narrator Tom Stechschulte was utterly amazing, bringing to life the dozen-odd characters in his dry, spare Texas intonation. Gorgeous to listen to.


...a complex tangle of disordered lives....

by jeanne-scott
(4/5)

Cormac McCarthy creates an austere landscape that serves as the backdrop for the lives of four men who play against the severity of the Texas desert. On the surface the desert is severe and simple, but in reality the desert is a complex microcosm, where everything is intricately connected. Any incidence of change, no matter how minute results in a chain of events that is seemingly unstoppable, affecting things far beyond it's seeming boundaries.Llewelyn Moss is a young man that stumbles upon a drug deal gone sour. Surrounded by dead men, and an immense amoutn of drugs and cash, Moss takes the money and runs. Moss is pursued by two men, Wells and Chigurh, both with the same intention, Moss must be eliminated. Wells is a former special forces man who is hired by one side of the failed drug deal. Chigurh is an ice cold killer, hired by another side, whose only desire is to leave no witnesses alive. Wells and Chigurh are involved in a convoluted dance as they pursue each other and Moss. As Moss doggedly pursues his chosen path he knows that he is relinquishing his life, but once his decision has been made, there is no undoing it. Sheriff Bell is an "old time" sheriff who feels a moral responsibility for those in his county, no matter what the situation may be. As Sheriff Bell attempts to salvage Moss, Bell acts not as a judge nor an arbiter, but as an observer of a complex tangle of disordered lives.He recounts a story on the problems in schools today vs. the problems in school in the 1930's......"my feelin' about that is that anybody can't tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a whole lot bigger of a problem that what I've got." He reflects on the direction he feels the country is taking in a conversation he has with an older woman who claims she wants a country where her granddaughter will be free to have an abortion. ".....And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt...not only will she be able to have an abortion, she'll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation."The story plunges into the raging lives of these men, replete with bloody gunfights, innocence slaughtered and lives destroyed and yet a spark of hope remains. This novel is vivid, detailed yet austere and it is brutally honest in it's depth. McCarthy has conceived a heart felt look at the changes wrought over time by a degradation of social mores, when the desire for drugs and money supercedes everything humane. Yet through it all, the Sheriff keeps the flicker of hope and the reality of love alive with his intimate appreciation for the spiritual truth in life that is his wife. Her love and commitment are to him like the smallest drops of rain in the desert, bringing forth a lush blossoming beauty that authenticates a hope for the future.


`If the rule you followed led you to this of what use was the rule?'

by Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected"
(5/5)

Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, stumbles across a drug deal gone horribly wrong. Amongst the dead bodies and abandoned vehicles he finds one badly wounded man who asks for water. Moss responds that he doesn't have any, and continues searching. He finds heroin, and then finds a man, dead beneath a tree with a caseload of cash. Moss chooses to take the money, and thus begins a chain of events which cannot then be stopped. Moss may be an opportunistic thief, but he is not totally without conscience. Later he returns to the scene with water for the dying man only to find that he has been murdered. Moss is seen, and the ensuing chase is the beginning of a hunt which forms much of the balance of the novel.`Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of destruction, and I don't want to confront him.'The other central characters are: Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a man haunted by aspects of his own past, who investigates the drug crime. Anton Chigurh, a murderer with his own absolutist code of honour who is tracking the money. Both converge on Moss. Bell is trying to make amends for the past by protecting his community while Chigurh will murder almost everyone who tries to prevent him from recovering the money. Chigurh is the most enigmatic of the three. We are not privy to his motivation, and the few insights we get into his justification is unsettling. Chigurh is relentless, self-sufficient and utterly focussed.`When I came into your life your life was over.'Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is the closest to a hero that the novel possesses, but the world is changing in ways he is not comfortable with, and he is hampered by memories of the past. Bell tries to help Moss and his wife Carla Jean but they are naive about what they are facing and by the time Bell puzzles out all of the clues it is too late.It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of this novel and to appreciate the broader issues behind the regional setting. I found this an unsettling novel because the ending is not a conclusion.`I don't know where you're at because I don't know who you are.'Jennifer Cameron-Smith


No country for old men

by Jeremy Micheal
(5/5)

Cormac mccarthy's imagnitive well written book about a reluctant frontier texan's rags to riches tale filled with suppense as the main charecter MOSS who tries to stay one step ahead of the henchmen who are looking for there money ,all in all the story devlops well it has good charecter development not to mention well written definatly worth reading


Noir on the plains

by Jerry Saperstein
(5/5)

Years back, Kirk Douglas starred in a dark masterpiece called "Lonely Are The Brave." A cowboy was living out the old code in a modern era. The Dalton Trumbull screenplay and Douglas's performance left me sad for the passing of an age.Cormac McCarthy evokes this passing of ages theme in "No Country For Old Men."Llewelyn Moss, a welder from small-town nowhere is out hunting antelope when he comes across a modern day massacre. No circled wagons here. Three shot-up vehicles with dead littering the ground, a stash of heroin in one of the vehicles and a satchel containing cash. Lots of cash. Moss takes the cash and, predictably, his life changes from the hum-drum to the deadly.Moss sends his teenaged wife Carla Jean off to presumed safety in Odessa, while Moss himself takes off to lose his pursuers.There's a gang that is never quite identified hunting Moss. They weave in and out of the story, generally depositing their own corpses over the landscape.Hunting everyone is Anton Chiurgh, a human version of Jaws, a killing machine.Enter Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, an old-fashioned lawman in a world that has changed beyond his recognition. And Wells, a former Special Forces officer who has been hired by one of the drug dealers to hunt down Chiurgh, the missing drugs and money.The writing style is unique: not a single quote mark anywhere to mark off dialog. A lot of stream of conciousness as Sheriff Bell reviews his life and the world that he once lived in and what it has become.The action meanders throughout a dreary landscape of people with what might be considered small lives, but may have been the best of all lives.The streets and roads are littered with bodies as Chiurgh makes his deadly way. Chiurgh hovers above everything as a symbol of malevolent evil. His presence, invisible as it is to most people, changes everything."No Country For Old Men" is successful not only as a mystery, but as a lament for times gone by, an indictment of the evil that drug trafficking is, the corrosive effects of money and corruption.A recurrent theme throughout the novel is that people have given up reading, listening or watching the news. They just have had their fill of bad news.This is a great mystery and a social statement that will have have heads nodding. Excellent read.Jerry


Poorly written gibberish

by Jesse B Ellyson
(1/5)

The lack of punctuation and the absolutely atrocious grammar made this book completely incomprehensible. I'm not a fan of "experimental English" and, frankly, can't understand how books like this ever get published.My advice? Spare yourself the agony of this book and just watch the movie.


Sometimes it is better just to walk away!

by jjceo
(5/5)

Llewelyn Moss is out haunting in the foothills of the desert when he finds a massacre. It is a circle of cars with dead bodies all around, automatic weapons and only one survivor who is near death. Moss sees a blood trail leading away from the site and follows it to a dead man leaning against a tree. He has a large catalog case filled with over two million dollars. Unable to resist the temptation he takes the money.Later on that night he feels sorry that he did not help the one surviving victim and returns to give him water. Moss is discovered by the drug gang's partners and thus begins a run for his life. A professional hit man is called in to retrieve the money and kill Moss. The killer is a relentless murderer who will do anything to get the money and complete his contract....Cormac McCarthy is an outstanding author and this book is filled with very good characters. The hit man, Anton Chigurh, is a cold blooded serial killer who feels no emotion for his victims at all. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell longs for the old days before the drug business made his life more difficult and dangerous. Moss is hunted by multiple killers and also the drug cartel who all want the money. Sometimes it is better to just walk away and avoid the temptation that faced Llewelyn Moss!This is a suspenseful novel and you will be involved in the character of Moss while he runs for his life and tries to protect his family. It is an outstanding book and I recommend it to you.I listened to the audio CD version read by Tom Stechshulte and my wife and I enjoyed it.


A 'literary crime novel hybrid' that may not appeal to everyone

by J. Norburn
(4/5)

I really enjoyed this novel but I can see how it won't appeal to everyone.Readers expecting a conventional crime thriller will be perplexed by the `pretentious absence of italics and the creative liberties taken with punctuation' that are often regarded as hallmarks of serious literature (not to mention a series of first person narratives, ruminating on the state of the modern world). Add to this; an ending that is largely unresolved (and what is resolved, is resolved in rather unpleasant fashion) and readers expecting a standard thriller are likely to complain that the novel is an incoherent mess.Readers of literature may be put off by the subject matter. While not a conventional crime thriller, there is an abundance of graphic violence in this novel. On its surface, No Country for Old Men is a straightforward cat and mouse chase involving a suitcase full of drug money. McCarthy is arguably a little heavy handed and preachy regarding his larger themes. Readers expecting a denser, more complex novel are likely to complain that No Country for Old Men lacks substance and subtlety.No Country for Old Men is a strange hybrid. Is it a crime novel elevated by McCarthy's lean, lucid prose? Or is it an unusually accessible, fast paced literary achievement? For some readers, it will be neither. For me, it scored on both counts.The novel is set in the early 1980's (before the use of cell phones - although McCarthy seems to have overlooked this at one point in the novel), just as narcotic use in North America is exploding. Bell, a sheriff in rural West Texas, sees the world changing around him and views the rampant drug trade as a catalyst for society's downward spiral. He laments a simpler time and is haunted by his past.Bottom line: I was mesmerized by McCarthy's sparse, compelling prose and was swept up by the chase. The dialogue, which carries most of the narrative, is sharp and insightful. The sheriff's expository reflections are admittedly homespun and heavy handed, but they serve as a sturdy foundation for the novel. I may not fully agree with Bell's view of the world, but I found No Country for Old Men to be a fascinating and immensely entertaining novel.I haven't seen the movie yet but I am a big fan of Fargo and look forward to seeing it soon.


the raw gritty modern western thriller

by Joe Sherry
(5/5)

When you categorize a novel as genre fiction you minimize it. Whether it is a science fiction novel, a western, or a mystery, the book is diminished because you say the book is a good western and not just a good novel. This allows for the categorization of Literature with a capital L and then sub-genres. But the "finest" novels are alwas Literature. If the author is really good, then his or her work can defy a genre categorization. Toni Morrison, for example, does not write "African American" fiction, she just writes good books. Cormac McCarthy does not write "westerns", he writes good books and tells a good story. No Country for Old Men is no exception. McCarthy nails this one, a modern day "western".Names are almost unimportant here. The basic story is that a man comes across the aftermath of a bloodbath. Something bad went down and there are multiple vehicles, multiple dead bodies, the disappearance of some drugs, and a suitcase filled with more than two million dollars. He takes the suitcase. He disappears. Searching for him is the town sheriff who only wants to make sure that this man is okay and nothing bad happens to him. Searching for him is a bounty hunter of sorts, a man who leaves a trail of death in his wake. Searching for him is a man trying to recover the money to the rightful (or wrongful) owner. This man knows that people will be after him. Two million dollars does not disappear without people taking notice.Cormac McCarthy writes a minimalist novel. Descriptions are spare, dialogue terse. Words are not wasted here. One running technique in McCarthy's writing is that dialogue is not in quotation marks but just flows as part of the sentence. At first it is a little jarring but after a chapter or two it just blends right in and adds to the story rather than distracts. What is most effective with No Country for Old Men is that McCarthy builds tension as the danger to the protagonist grows but shocks the reader with explosive acts of violence which change the course of the novel at each instant. There is raw power in No Country for Old Men. By the end of the novel we see that everything is a shade of grey, there are no white hats and no black hats here. And in the end I wished that McCarthy had spent another fifty pages telling this story.-Joe Sherry


violent but good

by John-78
(5/5)

Excellent audio book, read to perfection by gravel-voiced Ted Stetchschulte. There's a lot of decisions to make when you roll up on the aftermath of a major drug deal gone bad (dead people, drugs, millions of dollars)in a barren deserted area in West Texas. Lots of violence happens which I normally don't care for, but doesn't seem superfluous in the great writing and storyline. The characters were very vivid and the dialogue sunk you into the West Texas landscape like you were watching it all on a movie screen. I can see why they made this into a movie (I haven't seen it yet), hope they did the book justice.


Skilled, mesmerizing writing...

by John Bowes
(4/5)

is enough reason to read this fine thriller. A rumination on the evil that exists and those sworn to protect us. A very good book.


good, but not McCarthy's best

by John E. Vidale "conventional Earth scientist"
(4/5)

I read this book, bought because I enjoyed five or so of McCarthy's previous books, on last night's flight back from Boston to Seattle.The action was as crisp as always, relentless and engaging. But maybe it was the crowded airborne quarters, or more likely some of the themes just didn't resonate, and I was not completely satisfied in the end. Specifically, the theme that the 60's and the drug trade are leading society to leave Christian ways and descend into hopeless lawlessness seemed quaint and out of step with reality. A few too many door cylinders were shot out, and guns silenced, as well.Nevertheless, the weaving of morality and amorality, calculation and miscalculation, and growing to maturity into an action tale was head and shoulders above most books that are bestsellers.


What rough beast?

by John Green "Jesnnot"
(5/5)

SPOILERSIt's been said that this is a thriller with deeper meanings. I partly agree, but it's certainly no conventional thriller, because one of the guys we're kind of rooting for is killed of the way through, and the sheriff/hero quits with the really bad guy still around and about. The villain is the only man standing at the end.Maybe one of McCarthy's themes is that character doesn't really change. At bottom, you remain pretty much what you've always been-perhaps what you're destined to be. In any case, Bell finds himself acting the same as he did in WWII on an occasion for which he got a medal. But only he knows that he "cut and run." And now, after 36 years, he's doing the same thing. Here's the way Bell thinks of it to himself:"I thought if I lived my life in the strictest way I knew how then I would not ever again have a thing that would eat on me thataway. I said that I was twenty-one years old and I was entitled to one mistake, particularly if I could learn from it and become the sort of man I had it in my mind to be. Well, I was wrong about all of that. Now I am to quit and a good part of it just knowin that I wont be called on to hunt this man. I reckon he's a man. So you could say to me that I aint changed a bit and I dont know that I would even have an argument about that. Thirty-six years. That's a painful thing to know."IOW, he walks away because of fear, and in a sense he's once again leaving people he's responsible for behind. And yet, Bell is a good sheriff, one of the best. But now he's finds himself facing evil the like of which he's never faced before.McCarthy's vision is bleak. Even the best of us is not that good, the bravest of us not that heroic. And our failures tend to repeat themselves. I've read that McCarthy is a Catholic. But his vision, like that other Catholic writer, Graham Greene, is more Calvinist than Catholic. Despite our struggles, Evil will have its way with us.Yeats too is relevant. Not just "Sailing to Byzantium," from which the title is taken, but also "The Second Coming." One way of looking at NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is that shows the rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem.


No Country for Nobody

by john purcell "johneric99"
(5/5)

This is the first Cormac McCarthy novel I have read. I only became aware of him due to the movie. This is an excellent book, mostly due to the incredible development and growth of the Sheriff Bell character. Bell has been a soldier and sheriff all his life, and now he is starting to re-think some important decisions that he made. Like many of us, he does not understand or approve of the changes in our society, especially the culture of drugs, violence, and indifference.A native West Texas actor Tommy Lee Jones was perfectly cast as the sheriff. It is time to forgive his ridiculous support for Al Gore Jr and concede that he is the perfect man for this role.The movie focuses on the chase sequence involving Chigur, Wells, and Moss, which is intense and taut. Moss never really understands the danger that he is in, and fails to take bold action when it is presented. Like almost everyone in this thing, Wells ends up dead, almost immediately after he is introduced.The novel has a lot more insight into Bell's character. We learn that he has been living a lie since the war and has many other demons to contend with.


The Unpunished

by John Van Wagner
(4/5)

If you blink you'll miss it, but there's a good deed contemplated in Cormac Mcarthy's scorching, chilling novel "No Country for Old Men". The fact that the deed is never done does nothing to undermine it's significance. Passing through the desert, the protaganist Llewelyn Moss comes across a scene of raw carnage, the result of a ruthless battle among vermin drug dealers. Discarded amid the corpses he finds a bag full with more than two million dollars. And then he discovers that one corpse lives still.By the time Llewelyn, flush with his new wealth, returns to the scene of the crime to aid the survivor, his decision doesn't surprise, but it does apall. With spare prose that bolsters the book's brutal honesty, Mcarthy draws characters that become instantly knowable. The author demonstrates how few words it takes to define the mind or the world of the good man. For such a man there is no choice but to try to save.It's a tender impulse, but a stupid one. For the tender have little chance against the brutal, especially the monster the author has in store. Anton Chigurh would be a caricature, if McCarthy didn't do such a meticulous job of taking us inside the villain's mind and soul, demonstrating just how functional, and therefore how terrifying, he is.It's Chigurh's money that Llewelyn is holding, and with a fatalistic resolve that seems knowing enough to be self-destructive, Llewelyn taunts him into a spellbinding hunt across the desert. The journey ventures into the darkest depths of human depravity, with only the tiniest flashlights of good illuminating the overwhelming might of the horror.Don't look for the happy ending in "No Country for Old Men". And get emotionally involved with the characters at your peril. But let the stark, powerful sentences and simple philosophies of the prime observer of the piece, Sherriff Bell, open up the possibility that good might not overcome all. The fact of good's existence, hidden and cowed deep within some touched souls, might be all we have.


Not one of his best.

by Jonathan Carr
(3/5)

This book troubled me. It was the least interesting of all the McCarthy I've read.Briefly, it is the story of a man, Llewelyn Moss, who is antelope hunting when he finds the after-effects of a drug deal gone bad. Llewelyn follows a blood trail that leads him to a dead man with a bag of money--some two million dollars. Llewelyn takes the money. And the bad guys chase him down.On the surface, there's plenty to like about this book. Lots of talk about guns and cars. Horses. Lots of violence--though the violence is pretty pedestrian compared to some of McCarthy's other work. The men are simple and plain spoken and moral in a cowboy sort of way. It is a very readable book, and approachable for McCarthy.The thing that bothers most people--the unexpected twist about half way through the book--didn't bother me at all. I have come to expect such things from McCarthy and I appreciate them. Were this twist to be anything different, it would undermine the premise of the book and be distinctly un-McCarthy.But all in all, book feels unfinished. As though it is an early draft. It lacks the depth of his other work. There are moments that feel genuine--one of the final scenes, when the Sheriff visits his wheelchair bound uncle and confesses his cowardice in battle. This scene rings true. There are other moments. But taken as a whole it feels skeletal.I've heard or read someplace that they are going to make a movie out of the book, and I can't help but wonder if that is part of it. Did McCarthy send the thing off before it was done? Was it written with a film script in mind? I don't know. I like to think that somebody like McCarthy is above such things, but now that he is rich and famous and getting on in years, you never know.


A short review for a short book

by Jonathan M. Lourie
(3/5)

No Country for Old Men is Steinbeck's Pearl set in the southwest with a lead character, Llewelyn Moss, who is a bit more morally ambiguous. Moss finds a suitcase of $2 million in cash admist the violent remnants of a drug deal gone bad and then takes it and runs to seek a better life for him and his wife. His morals, however, cause him to go back to the scene of the crime (how stupid is this) where he is discovered by the smartest and coldest killer ever created, an agent of destruction with no soul, who proceeds to hunt Moss down. Of course, there is the smart and good hearted Sheriff Bell, who seems to understand what is going on for the most part, and provides a kind of narrative to the events as they unfold, as he tries to help Moss and his wife. Mr. McCarthy is a great writer and I just do not think this is one of his better books. I preferred his other books, like "All the Pretty Horses" and "The Crossing", both of which I thought were brilliant, filled with wonderful imagery. Instead, this book seems ready made for some action packed blood soaked Hollywood movie. I guess I just expect more from a writer of this caliber.


Confusion Reigns

by Jon Gerloff
(2/5)

A friend of mine and I have been debating this book for awhile. He called it a modern day classic western (an oxymoran, but hey)while I was just confused. I seemed to have missed some major chunks of plot. Like the ones that connect the story into something cogent. Or, maybe I missed an intricate one-liner hidden amoungst the terse prose that would have explained everything. I know there's a couple of bad guys and there are a couple of good guys, and the bad guys are killing the good guys and the other bad guys over some heroin money found by one of the good guys. Some of good guys die early on in the book and then you're left to root for an aging sheriff who ruminates without much advancement of the plot. Or did I miss the point of that also? I've never been the biggest Cormac McCarthy fan, and now I know why. Read it and see for yourself.


A sum greater than its parts

by Jordan M. Poss
(5/5)

No Country for Old Men is an unusual novel, especially for Cormac McCarthy. The book bears all his trademarks--terse dialogue, barren settings, gruesome violence, and desperate people in desperate situations--but it moves at a much faster pace than any of his other books. There is more genuine humor in both the action and the dialogue, and the characters have far more depth than most of his past works. No Country for Old Men is also fairly short--I read it in two days--and much easier to understand than, say, Blood Meridian.The story is a vintage Hollywood chase: common man stumbles onto crime scene, gets himself in over his head when he absconds with over $2 million in cash, and finds himself the next hit of a merciless contract killer. McCarthy takes what could be derivative material and rises above it, writing an excellent story that features not only chilling violence and tough characters, but some really moving moments--such as the encounter between the hitman and his target's wife--and some surprisingly deep philosophical questions. As with McCarthy's other work, No Country for Old Men sometimes reads like a good mix of Faulkner and the Bible--a good mix indeed.While this book will probably not become the classic that something like Blood Meridian has, it is certainly a good read, especially for those of us seeking to escape the drudgery of everyday life. Highly recommended.


fast,brutal,and compelling

by Joseph Bernstein
(5/5)

I read this novel straight through which is very unusual for me.It was my first experience of McCarthy's writing and I think it is first rate,but not for the squeamish-people like Anton Chigurh are around in greater numbers than one can imagine-spawned by wars and prisons or plain old psychopathic personality-the author has created a villain who is unfortunately realistic-not safely depicted as a creature who could exist only in the imagination.The basis of the book concerns drug trafficking,always a good starting point for generating amoral behavior.The counterpoint to Chigurh is Sherrif Bell,an old school cop with just the kind of self doubt and imperfections that make him trustworthy.Don't look for a formulaic story here-McCarthy tells an oft told tale in a new and effective way-if you're looking for a story of justice triumphant you won't find it here,but you will find one hard hitting story nonetheless.


More McCarthy Sensationalism

by Joseph E Botts
(2/5)

I have now read several of Cormac McCarthy's books, and have not finished some others. I forced myself to finish this distasteful piece of fiction in hopes that somewhere, at the end perhaps, there might be some redeeming quality that justified the waste of time spent in reading it. But as usual, this book is no better than the rest. Like all of his books, he uses some kind of sensationalism rather than skill and fails to present a complete, or at least interesting, plot that never fully develops; finally leaving the reader dangling for some kind of deep meaning that is only provided in the imagination of the reader. In making this novel as brutal and bloody as possible, the sensationalism approaches the same sickening effect that the extreme cruelty and even cannibalism achieves in his other works. Among the impressionable, sensationalism can sometimes replace a great deal of writing skill.It makes me think of the words of Pablo Picasso, when he said that once he became well-known, people imagined some deep meaning for his work that was simply not there. It is another example of the story of the Kings Clothing where everyone agrees to a popular falsehood. In this case, it is McCarthy that benefits.If there is any redeeming quality to any of his work that I have read, it is in McCarthy's familiarity with the southwestern dialogue and the area. For that alone, I give him two stars. I would rather give him a cold beer and ask him to hang it up..


Great work with a few let downs...........

by J. Probst "Jserialkiller"
(4/5)

*PLOT SPOILERS*I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It's written in the style i would expect from Cormac McCarthy, a quick easy read. McCarthy does an excellent job of painting the early 80's border towns and an even better job of explaining character intentions through the eyes of other characters as well as through their actions. I was a little displeased that one of my favorite characters was executed so quickly (Welles). At the same time i found it unusual that i began to care more about what happened to Chigurh than i did about what happened to Moss. That left me very happy with the ending.


Short, Intense, and Among McCarthy's Best

by J. Robinson
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode island and grew up in Tennessee, but now lives in Tesuque, New Mexico. He is viewed by many as one of the more unusual and most talented of the current American writers. For example, Harold Bloom has written a number of things positive things about McCarthy. I selected this book after reading Pretty Horses. I was interested in some of his more recent novels.This is McCarthy's ninth novel published in 2005. It is about a sheriff in Texas and a series of murders related to a drug deal that ended in the killing of over eight people.McCarthy has developed his trademark prose where he writes long rambling sentences to describe the natural setting and between these passages he uses mixed narrative and dialogue. McCarthy uses what is called polysyndeton, or the use of several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted. It is a stylistic scheme used to slow down the tempo.That complicated literary style is mostly missing in the present novel. Instead, prose is short and the story is filled with colloquial English. The structure is a series of recollections by the sheriff that are spaced between chapters of action, i.e.: mostly dialogue and killing. It takes a while to get into the swing of the message from McCarthy but I liked his technique of inserting the monologue by the sheriff in italics in separate chapters to divide the action. His recollections provide a parallel story about the sheriff and his career. We assume that the sheriff is "the old man" in the title.So, this is a pretty dark novel about crime and murder in Texas. It is less complicated than some of MCarthy's earlier works and is written in a different fashion than earlier works by the author.I have read a number of his novels. The present read is very compelling and the book is hard to put down. It is among his best works and I highly recommend the book.


The Most Accessible McCarthy

by J. Smallridge
(5/5)

This is not only more accessible than most of McCarthy's books, it is a terrifically entertaining read with so much pre-meditated action that it moves briskly along toward a brutal conclusion. The sense of desolation and loss comes across on almost every page and the McCarthy finds a way to make the setting so empty -- yet, with compelling characters -- that is a wonder to see how he pulls it off.


"I think if you were Satan and you were settin around tryin to think up somethin that would just bring the human race to its

by Julee Rudolf "book snob"
(3/5)

knees what you would probably would come up with is narcotics."Thirty-six year old welder Llewelyn Moss stumbles upon a grisly crime scene, obviously drug-related, in south Texas while out hunting one day. The lone survivor, barely breathing, asks him for water. Without obliging, Moss follows a blood trail to yet another casualty who happens to be in possession of a briefcase filled with millions in cash. He takes the money and runs, hides the dough, and returns to the scene, presumably to take care of the near-dead man. Moss realizes he's in a heap of trouble when he discovers that the last man standing (actually, sitting) has since been murdered. Several players want his money and his life, including the ruthless, vindictive Anton Chigurh and a seemingly reasonable hired hit man, Carson Wells. Sheriff Bell, within whose jurisdiction the drug deal went bad, rounds out the cast of major characters as the primary law enforcement officer on the case. Lots of blood, many lives, and this reader's interest are lost before it ends. Although McCarthy's unusual writing style is always a welcome diversion from the usual, the story continues beyond what is necessary, the angle involving Sheriff Bell is not very interesting and the point, if there was one, never became clear. No Country for Old Men was by far my least favorite of the three novels of his I've read. Much better: The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Homicide by David Simon.


A Bleak Country

by Julie Merilatt "julzddm"
(4/5)

I decided to jump on the No Country For Old Men bandwagon since the film recently received great critical acclaim and I loved McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Road. This novel is every bit McCarthy's style. One example being the way he writes dialogue: with out quotation marks, straightforward conversations, and stylized dialogue reflecting the heavy southern accents. A majority of the book is in third person, with short chapters written from Sheriff Bell's perspective.The plot is a fast-paced cat-and-mouse chase between Mexican drug dealers, the psychotic Anton Chigurh, hit-man Carson Wells, Sheriff Bell, and the unfortunate Llewelyn Moss. Moss discovers a drug bust gone wrong and absconds with a briefcase full of millions of dollars. But Chigurh, Wells, and the dealers are also on the trail of that money, and no one will stand in their way to get it back. Meanwhile, Sheriff Bell is trying to protect Moss and his young wife, knowing full well the degree of danger they are in. The trails crisscross through Texas and the body count continually rises. I don't want to give anything else away, so I'll advise you to read it for yourself. McCarthy is a talented writer who deserves your attention.


Great Author

by K. A. Maguire
(5/5)

McCarthy is a man to be reckoned with--powerful imagery and character development achieved through dialog alone--sparse prose that is able to obtain and sustain a significant amount of action--while at the same time having a fast-paced plot to make it a true page-turner. Pure Genius.


An Emotional gripping story!

by Kathy Dawson
(4/5)

I consider Cormac McCarthy's books a must read and they hold a special place in my library. In the novel "No Country for Old Men" I thought the story was powerful and a emotional story. A story that I will not soon forget. Midway through the book I was beginning to get tired of all the killings, but with the author's writing style he kept focused on the story and I was reminded that this was not a mass market thriller that I was reading. Mr. McCarthy was developing a ruthless story coupled with social observations, Texan's perception of disappointments and despair. Highly recommend this book.


best of Cormac..

by Kerry O. Burns
(5/5)

my favorite Cormac McCarthy book..gritty, harsh, blunt and bitter..a gem..McCarthy's world is a desolate wasteland inhabitated by harsh men and even harsher realities..not for the faint of heart...


Three Parts Crime Novel, One Part Conservative Rant

by Kevin Joseph
(4/5)

The strength of this novel is the compelling crime story depicting the violent aftermath of a botched drug deal near the Mexican border. Moss, a good-hearted welder, stumbles across over two million dollars in drug money, and his impulsive decision to grab the money puts a quick end to the quiet trailer park life he leads with his fetching young wife. A hit man named Chigurh, whose bottomless evil reaches Satanic proportions, tracks Moss relentlessly, creating a riveting cat-and-mouse thriller that keeps you flying through the pages.Interspersed throughout the story, however, are various introspective passages told from the point of view of County Sheriff Bell, an older man whose limitless goodness and patriarchal approach to law enforcement is meant to serve as a dichotomy to Chigurh's extreme badness. (In that sense, neither the Sheriff nor Chigurh is a very believeable character, seeming instead to serve as stand-ins for God and Satan.) Toward the end of the story, Bell's ruminations on the dire moral climate of the United States become more and more frequent, until the crime story line abruptly disappears and the reader is left with pages and pages of reactionary polemic in the closing chapters.Don't get me wrong, McCarthy does many things exceptionally well in this novel; his unadorned writing style and blue collar dialogue are truly masterful. I just wish he had toned down the rhetoric and instead spent his energy on constructing a more interesting way to end this story. I'll be curious to see how the film adaptation dealt with the anti-climactic ending.


Let The Blood Flow

by Kevin Tipple
(4/5)

"Yeah, Wendell said. I guess you ought to be careful cussin the dead.I would say at the least there probably aint no luck in it.It's just a bunch of Mexican drugrunners.They were. They aint now.I aint sure what you're saying.I'm just saying that whatever they were the only thing they are now is dead.I'll have to sleep on that."(No Country For Old Men, Page 73)Sleep is something in short supply in this violence filled book.Llewelyn Moss while on a hunt for antelope manages to wound one and is forced to chase it across the West Texas desert country. Instead of finding the antelope dead or dying he finds the results of a drug deal gone bad. To the south of him lie the mountains of Mexico and their stark beauty as well as the surrounding stark beauty of the desert country he walks in as he closes in on three off road vehicles and numerous bodies. He investigates and discovers the dead, the dying, the drugs and a large amount of money. He decides to take the money and run.Huge mistake.For Sheriff Ed Tom Bell society at large, as well as the folks that populate his county next to the Rio Grande, have changed so much that he doesn't know what makes sense anymore. Already facing the twilight of his law enforcement career and burdened by what he did in the war, he feels helpless to stop the killing. With Moss on the run and a number of parties looking to get the money as well as the suddenly now missing drugs and not caring who dies in the process, this caring Sheriff seems always two steps behind.But their paths do cross, as do numerous other paths in this highly atmospheric read. What follows is an engaging and often very violent read as the bodies pile up on a trail that leads into Mexico and back and forth across Southwest and West Texas. While the read does occasionally confuse the reader due to the author's absolute refusal to use quotation marks and his rare use of identifier tags such as "he said," etc., the novel provides a complex study of morality.Much of this is done through the deeply complex character of Sheriff Bell. Simplifying greatly which does a disservice to the character and the novel, this is a man who knows that he has always done the best he could and yet wonders if he could have done more. He also wonders why so much was sacrificed in war to have society as it stands today. He wonders why the country he fought for has so many folks willing to dope themselves up among other philosophical issues. His conflicted character is in contrast to the killer Chigurh, who along with killing a number of people innocent and guilty alike, offers his own brand of absolute certainty in wisdom regarding himself and the world he inhabits. Somewhere in the middle is the character Llewelyn Moss, who far from perfect, gives in to temptation and sets lose a secondary wave of death and wonders what fate had to do with all of it.The result is an engrossing story where amidst everything else, a world that makes no sense on one hand and perfect sense on the other is contemplated. Those looking for escapist fun need to look in other places and steer wide of this book. The novel is one of those examples that abound in good literature-a work that makes the reader think.Kevin R. Tipple 2005


Book can't hold a candle to the movie

by kjsem78
(2/5)

This is a rare case of the movie being better than the book. The movie made me think about it for days afterwards and I absolutely loved the symbolism, characters, cinematography, message, ets. So, being an ardent reader I decided to pick up the novel. I have never read Cormac McCarthy before but if his other books are like this one I don't want to read any more of his work.I found his curt, simple dialogue to be irritating. A character would say a few words, then the other one would say a few words, and the "conversation" would continue like this. Not every exchange was like this but there were enough to be quite annoying. It was also bothersome that at times it was difficult to follow who was saying what. McCarthy rarely helps us out by saying, "Moss replied," or "Bell said". This may not seem like a big deal, but I found it phenomenally distracting and I had to re-read on a number of occasions.Next, the lack of quotation marks was also distracting. I tried to get past it at first but it bothered me more and more as the story went on.McCarthy also had a tendency for run-on sentences. As someone else pointed out, he consistently used the word "and" to piece sentences together and the sentences just rambled on.Lastly, although written well, alot of the dialogue is plain tedious. Bell's soliloquys are just boring and you grow tired of his whining about things (I liked how in the movie he isn't portrayed as such a griper). I thought many of the conversations in the book worked MUCH better on screen as well. For example, in the book, when Moss speaks with the hitchhiker, and when Bell visits an old family member, I didn't think I was going to be able to stay awake.I suppose I could see how others could like this book, but you have to be prepared for McCarthy's writing style. There was really nothing about his unique style that I found redeeming.


Don't forget the humor

by K. L. Cotugno
(5/5)

With a novel as unremittingly grim as this one, it is truly a revelation to come upon, granted very rarely, flashes of humor that make you bark with laughter because it is so unexpected. Whether it's a turn of phrase or a plot point that cannot be resolved any other way, McCarthy interjects wit in a way that cannot be described as any other way but surgical.


Scary Good

by K. M. Filkins-Sanders "geroprof"
(5/5)

This is a scary good book and movie by Cormac McCarthy. If you haven't read the book, read it, if you haven't seen the movie, see it


An Engaging and Thought-Provoking Book

by K. Scott Proctor
(4/5)

"No Country for Old Men" is a unique book. Utilizing a staccato and direct writing style, Cormac McCarthy covers many weighty topics under the umbrella of a disarmingly direct and powerful storyline.Topics such as life and death, good and evil and choice versus chance are all touched upon over the course of this novel. Beneath the veneer of this action-driven story lie many questions of significant scale and scope. The combination of "big questions" and parsimonious verse make this an engaging and thought-provoking book.


Western Noir with the perfect characters, setting and plot

by Lady Maxwell
(5/5)

I loved loved loved this book.The plot, the setting and most of all the characters were all written perfectly.The plot was good because unlike most stories where the protagonist, who is usually an ordinary man who stumbles onto millions of dollars and end up doing idiotic, unfathomable and sometimes superhuman things such as kill everyone along the way in order to keep the money, and then somehow get away with it; here the protoganist (Llewelyn Moss) is only trying to stay alive for as long as he can with the money he found because he knows that so long as he has the money, they will never stop hunting him. As Llewelyn said: If you lost $2 million dollars, when would you stop looking for it? Never.Since the money is from a drug deal gone wrong, the setting is perfect and beliavable in the bare deserted Texas prairie. McCarthy does such a wonderful job at capturing the various main characters personalities that even though the novel is written in dialogue form, you can tell which character is talking without him describing who it is. The only minor problem is that with so many characters, the characters with minor yet vital roles can be a little hard to follow.The only thing more perfect than this book was the adaptation of the novel into the Coen brother's movie. Although for the most part faithful to the book, there are some changes in the movie version. I usually don't like the movie adaptation of a novel, but this one was done so perfectly that it might even surpass the novel itself. The portrayal of the character by Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones could not have been more perfect.If you read this book, I guarantee you would want to run out and watch the movie. But if you can only do one, I would suggest you watch the movie. The movie captures the story and provides you with the visual perfectly.


a complex novel that tries to do too much...

by lazza
(4/5)

If you've seen the film 'No Country for Old Men' then the book from which it was adapted will have little in the way of surprises, or actually the only surprise would be at how faithful the film adaptation was to the original story. But for those who haven't seen it, 'No Country for Old Men' is about a drug smuggling episode that went bad and its terrible aftermath of killings by a crazed monster looking for the man who stole the loot. It all takes in west Texas circa 1980. There is a sheriff who tries in vain to catch up to the bad guys and, well, shakes his head at how ugly the world has become.I will say that there is one aspect of the book that is bit more pronounced than the movie. The author goes into the head of our frustrated and disgusted sheriff to a much greater extent, which actually doesn't add to the overall story or reading enjoyment. What basically reads as a terrific yet horrific action story is mixed with almost philosophical thoughts by the sheriff character. I'm not sure what the author was trying to achieve but I suspect he didn't succeed. All it did was tarnish an otherwise excellent read.Bottom line: see the movie instead.


Southwest Scorcher

by Leland "Pattern Watcher"
(5/5)

Here is a great book by Cormac McCarthy. It has been made into a movie. I'm looking forward to seeing it. It will be very interesting to see if it tracks the book. In fact, to see if it can track the book.This was my first exposure to Cormac McCarthy's novels. The first thing that struck me was that the man never saw a quotation mark he liked. Nor a lot of complete sentences. Believe it or not, this style carried over into dialog. Very few he saids. Very few references to proper names. Complete sentences as scarce as hen's teeth. Run on sentences like pebbles on a beach. Not since e e cummings have we had such rebellion against Strunk and White, the writing guide.But guess what. It works. What a narrative this is! From the time his character Llewelyn Moss finds a couple of trucks of dead and dying drug runners in the desert and skips off with a couple of million dollars of drug money, and all through the heart pounding chase by the minions of the self-described owners of the money, McCarthy, with his staccato style, batters the senses and storms the emotions, virtually from the first page to the last. And all the while, sprinkling Southwestern homespun philosophy -- McCarthyisms I came to call them -- that kept me pondering and smiling.I've tried in this report to mimic McCarthy's style. To a degree. A poor job I have to admit. But maybe you'll get the picture. Or not. Unless you read the book. Do it. You'll like it.


Choice and Destiny at the Crossroad

by Leonard Seet
(4/5)

Choice and destiny at the crossroad?When Moss comes upon a drug deal gone bad and takes the $2.4 million, he sets in motion a chain of events that neither he nor Sheriff Bell could stop. And the psychopathic killer Chigurh, who follows a universal code of conduct and tries to control every event, believes he is taking the only possible course: to eliminate Moss and retrieve the money. He gives Moss the choice to surrender and die or to fight and risk his wife's life also. After Moss died, Chigurh arrives to kill his wife Carla Jean. When she persuades him not to kill her, he says he gave his word to Moss that he would kill her. He believes that killing her is the only "justice," the only destiny for him and for Carla Jean. Except he allows her to pick heads or tails on a coin toss. She picks the wrong side and he kills her. The irony is that a drunk driver runs a red light and smashes the car into Chigurh's truck and severely injures him. A random event. Neither he nor the driver planned it. Chigurh is one of the most eerie and enigmatic characters in fiction. He retrieves the money and returns it to the drug dealer, taking only a percentage as a fee. Because he believes he is "making things right."And Bell, a local sheriff used to helping old women get their cats off the trees, can only watch the events unfold, watch the shootouts in the motels and watch Chigurh kill Moss and then Carla Jean. He realizes the drug deals are beyond him and Chigurh is certainly beyond him and the land that he lives in is changing and he no longer understands it. He feels he is getting old and he quits and retires and spends his time with his wife.McCarthy's writing style empowers the novel and pushes No Country for Old Men beyond just a crime drama, a cop and robber story. The bare dialogues sustain the tension and push the plot forward. The barren sentences reflect the harsh Texas-Mexico border and the rugged and relentless characters and the bloody and grim scenes. To create an austere beauty that saddens yet mesmerizes the reader.The world of No Country for Old Men, like the worlds of McCarthy's other novels, is harsh and cruel and its inhabitants must struggle to survive, and when they fail they perish. No redemption through courage and heroism. Moss struggled and lost and he lost his life and his wife's life. Bell retreated and he didn't lose but didn't win either. Choice and destiny?No Country for Old Men is an essential American novel by an essential American writer. And despite the blood and gory, I recommend it as a reflection on our changing times.


Chigurh is the most evil character, a reminder that some people have no remorse

by Loretto Leary "Celticwoman"
(4/5)

In true McCarthy style the sparsity of language does not detract from the powerful prose. Though lack of quotation marks makes it difficult to understand who the narrator is in certain places, Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men is a powerful story.Sheriff Bell remembers a time when his small border town was not caught amid the violence of drug trade. Bell's investigation of a drug deal gone wrong brings him on the heels of Llewelyn Moss, a resident of Bell's town. Moss discovers the bodies of drug gang members during a hunting trip in the desert. A duffel bag filled with money sits beside a dying man who begs Moss for water. Moss takes the duffel bag and begins his trek back to his home. But he has been spotted by Anton Chigurh, a hired killer who will get rid of any witnesses and return the money to its rightful owner.Moss knows he can't stay in his mobile home because Chigurh will find him and kill him. Moss hits the road, follwed by Sherrif Bell and Chigurh.This is a violent book. A reminder that things change rapidly from one generation to the next. It is a book that will make you return to sections to sort out who is who initially, but by the end you will have no doubt as to who is the killer and who is the law man. I believe the title of the book comes from a W B Yeats poem, Sailing to Byzantium which begins with the lines:THAT is no country for old men. The youngIn one another's arms, birds in the trees- Those dying generations - at their song,The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer longWhatever is begotten, born, and dies.Caught in that sensual music all neglectMonuments of unageing intellect.


Another amazing book from this brilliant author

by Lorna Freestone "Scottie lass"
(5/5)

From the first sentence this book is impossible to put down. It is a real thriller and so much more. The images of the countryside are vivid even though the language is sparse, each word carefully chosen. The Sheriff is beautifully drawn as a sympathetic but flawed human being. The assassin makes your skin crawl. Only one ending is possible but getting there is an awful journey.


A Great Read

by LufiaX7
(5/5)

There's something about the simplicity of the prose that lends perfectly to the setting and the characters. Oddly enough I've encountered other writers with a style of writing that was similar and I didn't care for it, but somehow within the narrative of McCarthy's stories I love the choppy, disjointed rhythm. And while I felt there were certain parts of the story that didn't really need to be there and didn't add much to the book (something I think the movie rectified well), it overall came together quite nicely.The descriptions of the look and feel of those characters and a small slice of their world, the realistic approach to said characters, and that ending (I expected something a bit different I have to admit) have all ended up making this one of my favorite books."It's not about knowin where you are. It's about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody's. You don't start over. That's what it's about. Ever step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it."I think that quote from this book sums up the entirely of it perfectly. The consequences of the decisions every character makes, whether intentional or not, good or bad or otherwise, are unavoidable. Things unfold the way they do because of every choice they make. Sounds simple enough, but I think that concept was developed wonderfully in this story.Sure, not having the typical "good guys overcome" ending might frustrate some people, but like with McCarthy's "The Road" I find myself once again appreciating the honesty behind all of it.


Hunters Hunted And Hunting

by Mark Eremite "This Is A Display Model Only"
(4/5)

If you do your homework on "No Country For Old Men," you'll hear a lot about Good vs. Evil, it might be described as a "vibrant thriller" or a "harrowing" read.I disagree with most of that, but not in the spirit of discontent. Anyone familiar with McCarthy knows that the man's prose creates incredible novels in the same way that stars create barely luminescent night skies. If there's one thing anyone can agree on, it's that McCarthy never says more than he needs to. And what he does say, well, you can bet it means more than maybe it appears to.I became interested in this book when I heard that my favorite filmmakers, the Coen brothers, were adapting it for the screen. After reading the novel, I can say they won't have to do much work. The book's stark simplicity certainly fits the Coen milieu (I'm thinking of theirBlood Simple (Director's Cut)days).At heart, the book is the story of two men -- a small town sherrif named Bell and a philosophically dispassionate killer named Chigurh. Both of them are looking for Llewelyn Moss, a Vietnam veteran who stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong in the dry-baked hills near the Rio Grande. Moss leaves with two million dollars that don't belong to him. Thus begins the chase.All three men are short on words, and they inhabit their own moral worlds with an unforgiving practicality that makes them equally arresting. Their goals are different, their fears and hopes and drives, but it seems to me that they are each, at heart, the embodiment of the same unrelenting spirit. Perhaps McCarthy is showing us how divergent similar lives can be when they are guided by different stars.It's a bleak novel, but it moves fast and without fanfare. McCarthy doesn't dwell on much, except for perhaps Sherrif Bell, whose internal monologues punctuate each chapter break. McCarthy is an expert at making a point without the need for a pulpit; he has too much respect for his readers to spell things out with clumsy narration or dialogue. But in this book, specifically in Bell's disquiet ruminations, McCarthy comes dangerously close to preaching.I'm not just talking about Christianity or God, although that's certainly a part of it. There's a definite sense that McCarthy is mourning the decay of modern civilization, perhaps even trying to guess at the social reasons for a world that seems ever intent on swallowing itself whole. Bell's monologues flip and flop like a landed fish trying to gulp its last breaths, so it could be said that McCarthy is only posing questions for the reader to carry away on their own. But it's easy to see the occasional hints (the symbolism of the book is pretty overt) and nudges (all of the book's most quotable lines read like philosophical signposts). In that sense, this is perhaps McCarthy's most commercial work, and although that means more are likely to get it, it also means it's less likely to warrant the getting.The stark, sandy setting of the book is no accident, as McCarthy's writing could be described in similar terms. And although the ambiguous sentiments of the book's larger purposes may occasionally cloy, it still bears the unmistakable print of a craftsman's hands. Also, like most McCarthy books, the ending is deeply satisfying in spite of its yawning lack of conclusion. Readers interested in traditional resolutions will probably be put off by the slight shrug of the last few pages, but I daresay those same readers will find the aftertaste of those pages to be almost as absorbing as the book itself.


*Blood Meridian* for Dummies...

by Mark Nadja "Literary Outlaw, author *Hardcore...
(3/5)

Okay, not quite, but...almost.Let me say right at the start, this is a fine book, a compelling read, and well worth your time. Its entertainment with a kick and a moral...a thinking man's thriller that doesnt let up for a page.So why the medicore rating?If this were any other author, I'd probably give this book 4 stars, or maybe even 5, but because its Cormac McCarthy, I hold him to a higher--perhaps even impossible--standard. The standard of his own previous work, specifically, his novel *Blood Meridian.* Its unfair, I know it, an author usually has only one novel like *Blood Meridian* in him. But as any number of characters from McCarthy's own books will tell you, including the monstrous killer stalking this one, lifes not fair. No its not, not in the end.Fact is, McCarthy already said everything he says in *No Country for Old Men* in *Blood Meridian,* only he said it better, more poetically, thunderously, and forever in the former. *Blood Meridian* is a novel for the ages--and *No Country for Old Men* is a novel for maybe two months or so. It reads much like a movie-script, and one can almost see this book turned into a blockbuster thriller--and, as such, its a perfectly legitimate, if watered-down re-statement of McCarthy's major themes. You almost get the feeling he was slumming it in this novel, dumbing it all down for the mass market, making his version of "Silence of the Lambs."If you havent read *Blood Meridian* yet...read this book. It's the place to start--its the primer, an introduction to the futile struggle between good and evil. Then get yourself a copy of *Blood Meridian,* that's the post-graduate text.


Naturalism or existentialism

by Mary E. Sibley
(5/5)

Llewelyn Moss finds money and guns, including a submachine gun. He wants his wife, Carly Jean, to go to Odessa to wait for him. He feels at least two groups of people are looking for him, not including various law enforcement officials. He uses two motels to stay ahead of everyone. He alters a Winchester shotgun in anticipation of a fight. The care he takes, the planning, reminds the reader of Ernest Hemingway's characters preparing to go hunting or fishing. One is also reminded of THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE in terms of the author's use of descriptive detail to show carnage.The bodies at the site of Llewelyn Moss's discovery of the money and the guns are seen by Sheriff Bell and others. It is determined they have been there for four or five days. Heroin is found in the back of the vehicle. Texas Rangers are on the way to the scene. Moss finds the sending unit, the transponder, in the packs of money. He reflects to himself that he has been running on luck. He anticipates that someone like Anton will enter his room by stealth, but he hasn't factored in that Anton is a crack shot and highly motivated to injure him. Moss is hit at least three times and retreats to a hospital in Mexico. The sheriff warns Carla Jean that her husband is in an extremely dangerous position.Cormac McCarthy begins his work with the promising notion of an everyman encountering a stash of money, drugs, and guns, seemingly his for the taking. The problem is that criminals, of all people, don't like being inconvenienced and they certainly don't like being crime victims. In the end one character, a man who seeks to prevent injury, comes to question his own capacity to pursue his vocation.


Not for the faint of heart

by Mary Reinert
(4/5)

I picked this book up at the library after seeing a preview of the upcoming movie starring Tommy Lee Jones. Therefore as I read the face and voice of Tommy Lee Jones became a part of the book -- which might have actually helped me get into this.As others have summarized the story, it is way violent, brutal, depressing, and cold. However, there are some real jewels of wit, compassion, and wisdom scattered throughout. The one thing that made me give this a 4 rather than 5 was the sometimes too lengthy and detailed description of guns and weapons. I don't have a clue about one gun from the next; however, I'm sure someone more familiar with this would appreciate this.This is not my favorite book of all time, but I'm glad I read it. It's a fast paced crime/detective novel that is well written and has some places that are impossible to put down. I'm anxiously awaiting the movie.


"Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of destruction."

by Mary Whipple
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthy's first novel since completing the Border Trilogy in 1998 is a dramatic change of pace. Gone is the focus on the wild Texas plains and the encroachment of civilization. Gone are the lyrical descriptions of untamed nature and young love. Gone is the belief that love and hope have a fighting chance in life's mythic struggles. Instead, we have a much darker, more pessimistic vision, set in Texas in the 1980s, a microcosm in which drugs and violence have so changed "civilization" that the local sheriff believes "we're looking at something we really aint even seen before."Forty-five-year-old Sheriff Ed Tom Bell must deal with the growing amorality affecting his small border town as a result of the drug trade. The old "rules" do not apply, and Bell faces a wave of violence involving at least ten murders. Running parallel with Bell's investigation of these murders is the story of Llewelyn Moss, a resident of Bell's town, who, while hunting in the countryside, has uncovered a bloody massacre and a truck containing a huge shipment of heroin. He has also discovered and stolen a case containing two million dollars of drug money, which results in his frantic run from hired hitmen. Hunting Moss is Anton Chigurh, a sociopathic cartel avenger, a Satan who will stop at nothing, the antithesis of the thoughtful and kindly Bell. A rival hitman named Wells is, in turn, stalking Chigurh.By far McCarthy's most exciting and suspenseful novel in recent years, the story speeds along, the body count rising in shocking scenes of depravity. Bell's first person musings about crime, society, and the people around him break the tension periodically, allowing the reader to ponder the wider implications of the action and to see it as a symbolic struggle for man's soul between good and evil, love and hate, God and Satan. As the violence continues and Bell becomes more discouraged, he visits his elderly Uncle Ellis, a former deputy sheriff and war veteran, and as they talk about World War I and the Vietnam War, where they were willing to give their lives for a presumably winnable cause, the contrast between those battles and this battle on the home front is seen in broader and bleaker perspective.McCarthy's desire to preserve traditional values, and his grim vision of the present and future, reflect a view of life that many readers will not share. The artistry the reader has seen in McCarthy's thematic development throughout the rest of the novel is sacrificed in the last forty pages, in which Bell's overt warnings and cautionary remarks about the future sound preachy. Still, the novel is breathtaking in its construction, and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is one of McCarthy's best-drawn characters. (4.5 stars) n Mary Whipple


"this country has got a strange kind of history and a damned bloody one too"

by Matt Beatty
(5/5)

I had seen the movie first. That's just the way it is. But, as much as I love the Coen brothers--the book is better. Movie is well-acted, -filmed, and -executed, but the book hits on an emotional level that is different. That is deeper and more cutting. In spite of the violence and the bits of hopelessness or disenchantment sparkled throughout.McCarthy's prose is more reigned in here. More like The Road, less likeBlood MeridianandThe Crossing. McCarthy uses landscape again, as a character, but this time it is more of the emptiness of the landscape than its promise. It is there but it leads on and on. To borders and other foreign places, where law can only contain itself within its own madeup boundaries and jurisdictions. It is flat and rolling at the same time. Seemingly made up of nothing. Something to cross to get to the next place.Every character is principled, in their own distinct ways. Moss has taken this money, this opportunity, and he will stand by that decision. He won't take the easy way out or back down. He will follow it through till the end. He is loyal and capable yet headstrong. Chigurh is more than just his foil -- they are too similar. Chigurh has sociopathic tendencies, but he is driven by logic. If he makes a promise, he keeps that promise. He *has* to. And Bell is the reliable, wise old owl type. He has seen much, but he hasn't seen it all. He comes from an uncorrupted day, a time and place that he can't reconcile with the modern day, the modern way. What he sees as a *lack* of principles (or morals) in others, when taken from their perspective, it may be precisely the opposite.These three characters dance a merry-go-round of locations and emotions. Bell (the hero) never even meets Chigurh (the villain). It's good meets bad--but not really. There is no succinct, clean resolution. You can't shut these pages and feel that everything has been tidied up.And this is why he's Cormac McCarthy. And I love him so.--- ---"You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it's made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who's layin there?" (227) -- Moss"this country has got a strange kind of history and a damned bloody one too" (284) -- Bell"I always thought when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didnt. I dont blame him. If I was him I'd have the same opinion about me that he does." (267)"You always pay too much. Particularly for promises. There aint no such thing as a bargain promise." (267)


5 stars until McCarthy hits the brakes

by M. Emrich "embo55"
(4/5)

So the book's title is "No Country for Old Men", but McCarthy doesn't decide to hammer that concept in until the last 60 pages or so. Before that is one of the most violent and exciting noir stories that I have ever read. It's as if he said hmm I've written this beach novel, and now I've got to make it literary. I like his literary, but he does damned good beach novel as well. I'll tell you this. I've never read anything quite like this book. The way the exciting part ends and the lecture about how the country has gone to ka-ka takes over is weird. I sure will be interested to see how the Coen's handle filming the subject. My guess is they'll embellish the noir and downplay Sheriff Bell's philosophizing, and it'll be one of those rare cases of the movie being better than the book.


Spooky. Maybe More Than I Cared to Know.

by Miami Bob "Resurgent Reading"
(5/5)

A collision of violence is the best way of describing this author's work. Perhaps the antithesis to romance novels, this author peels deep into the corrupt acts of depraved souls. You like it raw and red - this book rivals the classics like Robert Stone'sDog Soldiersor Flannery O'Connor'sWise Blood: A Novel.People being killed for little or no reason is not unique in this novel. And, unlike most novels, the volume of needless murders is greater than anyone may imagine in a novel of a mere 300 pages.You really never learn much about the killer. He speaks little - he is something akin to Frederick Forsyth's Jackal. But, like the Jackal, he can make guns from scratch, search you out in a city of people, shoot like the best sniper, and kill without trepidation.The belief that such people walk our streets is disturbing. One critic, William J. Cobb, aptly stated this novel is . . . "a heated story that brands the reader's mind as if seared by a knife heated upon campfire flames."The hitman who defies death time after time may be what one character described. "Somewhere in the world is the most invincible man. Just as somewhere is the most vulnerable." When that person asks another hunter of men if the hitman called Chirgurh is dangerous, the curt response is "He's a psychopathic killer, but so what? There's plenty of them around."Are there? If so, that is more information than most of us want to know. The underbelly of American society, where people live and act like Chirgurh , is a society we wish to have hidden from us - in spite of television's clear attempt to reveal more of this world on prime time.In the end, there is little ending to the murdering - just retrospection by the narrator - the sheriff who retires having never solved these many murders. And, by such a void, we can only conclude that Chirgurh, and those like him, walk our streets, eat in our restaurants, and frequent our places. Spooky.


What Our World Has Come To

by Michael C. Tighe "Bookbinger"
(3/5)

I am a great fan of Cormac McCarthy's writing, and "No Country for Old Men" is a strange novel, as his books almost always are. It is a gripping page-turner, and I finished it in three days, a fast read for me, but in the end I was disappointed.The story has part openings in the voice of an undereducated Texas sheriff, with lots of double negatives, "ever" for "every" and "kindly" for "kind of," and "set" for "sit." The diction seemed a bit strained to me at times, but one critic called the book "The most accessible of all his works." I actually found the sheriff's philosophical ramplings impenetrable at times.The plot involves a two-million-dollar drug deal gone awry and a Texas cowpoke named Llewelyn Moss stumbling onto the aftermath of a minor massacre and running off with a briefcase filled with the two million in cash. This cowpoke speaks with the same diction as the sheriff. He and his family are hunted down by a ruthless, cold-blooded killer named Chigurh, who speaks the best English.Chigurh -- sounds kindly like sugar -- blows away Mexican drug dealers, lawmen, and anybody else who gets in his way, and represents, essentially, what the world has come to. It's too much for Sheriff Bell, who gives up the chase and retires, while Chigurh gets the money back and wreaks his usual havoc. The novel has been called "profoundly disturbing," I guess because the good guys get killed or quit and the bad guy gets away, after delivering the cash to an unidentified businessman in a fancy office.Is this what our world has come to?


Great read

by Michael Mann
(5/5)

This is one of the best novels I've ever read. It was dark and pretty grim but I wouldn't expect any less from the great Cormac McCarthy.I thought using the three different points if view to tell the story was brilliant. The sheriff, Llewelyn and Chigur were all three compelling characters. The sheriff had a sense of justice based on right and wrong. Chigur had a sense of justice based on a twisted sense of right and wrong. And Llewelyn was stuck in between.As an aside, the Coen brothers did a a great job translating this novel to film.


Eloquent Writer

by M. Meszaros "acadia2431"
(5/5)

The book world is brimming with super-embellished descriptions and writers who spoonfeed their audience every meaningless detail. For me, it's a pleasure to always come back to McCarthy who has honed his craft to the bare, polished bone. I appreciate the challenge McCarthy presents to the reader in imagining for ourselves these characters and their timeless setting. And he is always honest. This book is no exception.


Horrible book

by Mr. Ditto
(1/5)

First book I've *ever* read where I skimmed the last 3 pages because I was completely uninterested and just wanted to get the darn thing over with. The book just kept getting worse and worse.I agree with the previous review saying the book is terrible and doesn't conform to the way stories are told.First annoyance-- dialog that is not in quotation marks. Why would you not conform to that basic standard of writing? What's next? Starting the story on the last page and reading from right-to-left?Story fizzled out.Waste of time. Especially compared to the book I had finished prior to this one: Lonesome Dove-- a true masterpiece from an author who knows how to tell a story.


After the long wait...

by M. Richard Roehl
(4/5)

The things that i didn't like were:- the short length (this was a kind of long 'short story' with everything double-spaced to fill up 250 pages.- quite a few things in the story didn't make sense: he goes back to the desert just to get 'caught'.Can think of many other rather 'far-fetched' things that happen so I found the book rather 'quickly written' (though i really enjoyed it).


McCarthy at his best

by mrliteral
(4/5)

Cormac McCarthy is considered by many to be one of the great living American writers. I, too, think he's good, although probably not as great as some would make him out to be. Certainly, for casual readers, McCarthy can be a bit of a trial as his style is both distinct and not the easiest read (for example, he doesn't use quotation marks; in fact, he hardly uses anything beyond periods and question marks...even commas and apostrophes are rare). For those who want to be introduced to McCarthy, No Country for Old Men is a good place to start. Not only is it simpler to follow, but it's also a really good story.Towards the beginning of the book, Llewellyn Moss is out hunting in the desert near his home when he stumbles upon some dead bodies, the result of a drug deal gone bad. Avoiding the drugs, Moss does help himself to some of the weapons and, more importantly, a couple million dollars in cash. Early the next morning, he revisits the site which is both bad and good: bad, because others are now there and they start hunting him down; and good, because they would probably have found him anyways and at least he is now aware of them.Moss sends his wife away for her safety and goes on the run himself. There are many pursuing him. On the side of the law is Sheriff Bell, a late-middle-aged man who is growing disillusioned about his job and finds himself in the middle of a crime spree that's the worst in his career. More significantly, Moss is also being hunted by Anton Chigurh.To call Chigurh a vicious killer is almost an understatement. Chigurh is a truly nasty person, almost more of a force of nature than a human being. Like a tornado, he leaves only death and destruction in his path, and he seems almost unstoppable. Moss is no lightweight, but Chigurh is on a whole different level.No Country for Old Men is a modern Western with a lot of violence. For the most part, it is a fast-moving story; the ending, however, is a bit of a letdown. For this reason, I am giving this book four starts, albeit a high four stars. If you like action stories with a more "literary" bent, this is a good choice.


McCarthy...Simplified

by Nathan W
(4/5)

While those familiar with Cormac McCarthy's previous efforts have come to expect great things from this celebrated author, 'No Country for Old Men' offers an excellent opportunity for newcomers to begin reading him. No Country for Old Men is somewhat of a transitional work in that, following his 'Border Trilogy' (The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, the Crossing, Cities of the Plain (Everyman's Library)), he is exploring new aspects of literature in both setting and style. We are thrust into a more modernized era in which we can more closely relate to the central themes of the novel as they are still, probably even more so, prevalent in today's society. As for the stylistic changes, gone are the dense, page-long sentences that previously graced McCarthy's works full of Faulknerian qualities. Instead, we are hit with sparse prose. Declarative sentences short and to the point. Quick dialogue. It is this somewhat simpler writing style that makes this McCarthy's most accessible novel yet.If you have been holding out on McCarthy, do yourself a favor and read this book. If you are coming to this novel having read his previous efforts, expect more of the same great McCarthy, but in a somewhat simpler, but far from inferior, manner. Coming from somebody who favors his usual wordiness, this novel was somewhat of a change for me to read. While still enjoyable, I hope he revisits the McCarthy of 'Blood Meridian' (Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West) or 'Suttree' (Suttree). However, lesser McCarthy is still better than the rest of the fiction world so I will take what I can get in the meantime. Recommended reading nonetheless.


BOOK OF THE YEAR 2005...

by NotATameLion
(5/5)

What's up with people writing their own books to review this book? Have you ever seen such long reviews on Amazon? Read a few of these behemoths and I think you'll join me in agreeing that the old adage about the reverse proportionality of profundity and long-windedness still holds true.And to think that all this verbage is about such a spare and stream-lined masterpiece...This book is the best new thing I have read in the past five years. Books like No Country for Old Men make me wish I could write. (Never fear, I won't try and start here.)Cormac McCarthy lights a fuse in the first pages that will have you burning through it to the end. He also delivers the biggest sucker punch since the one Hitchcock threw with Psycho.Buy this book. You'll want to keep your copy.This is the best book to come out this year. This is a story that means something from a writer who knows what he's doing.I give No Country for Old Men my highest recommendation.


The Preacher

by olingerstories
(5/5)

McCarthy is amazing. He is relentless in proclaiming the belief that god is dead, and then shows in graphic detail the darkness of such a world. The writing is unlike anything I have ever read--lyrical, raw, and page turning. I haven't been this excited about reading an author since I first encountered Graham Greene. Greene identified the modern religious dilemna that occurs for many in the Catholic faith; McCarthy identifies the consequence of having no faith at all.


Modern Classic

by Oliver W. Robertson
(5/5)

If you have ever lived in or passed through West Texas, or southern New Mexico you get a feel for the harshness of it's physical and cultural geography. Regional and cultural Geography conditions it denizens. No Country for Old Men defines this geography and it's effects on the people who survive...and in some sense adapt to this harsh but beautiful region. Mccarthy's genius accurately designed the appropriate title of his story. I highly recommend this book for all the Mccarthy fans out there. Add this knowledge to your base of understanding the human condition. I did.


Great Book. Poor Title.

by Ozgard "Oz"
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthey spins a tale of greed and what it brings you. Excellently written. Keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense. Can't miss book of the summer.


No Country for Old Men: Haunting

by Patrick J. Jones
(5/5)

Title: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyPages: 309Time spent on the "to read" shelf: 6 months.Days spent reading it: 3 days.Why I read it: Since I enjoyed The Road so much, I thought I would try some more McCarthy. I also watched the movie (which was phenomenal), so I knew I had a good chance of enjoying the book.Brief review: Cormac McCarthy has become one of my favorite writers after reading just a few of his books. His ability to tell a story is epic. No Country for Old Men traces the story of Llewellyn Moss after he finds two million dollars in a desert drug deal gone wrong. He is chased through the book by the unstoppable Chigurh. Chigurh intends to retrieve the money for his employers and he stops at nothing to make that happen. Chigurh has no real moral compass. He uses a coin to determine the fate of the unlucky souls who he encounters in the chase. In contrast to Chigurh is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. He's an old school sheriff who has no idea how to deal with the evil that he gets a glimpse of in this story.I loved a few things about this book. First, I love the voice of Sheriff Bell. At the beginning of every chapter the sheriff has some rumination or explanation of something from his life. I felt like he was sitting right there next to me explaining the mysteries of the universe. These passages are simply profound and beautiful, especially in contrast to the insanity of cat and mouse that permeates the rest of the book. Second, I love McCarthy's prose. It is sparse at times, but so deep. The conversations between characters often made my heart want to jump out of my chest. The terse dialogue is deceptive, because the words seem to come from the depths of the heart. And since the words are so few, everyone seems to count for a hundred. Third, I love how this tale is more about good versus evil than anything else. It's incredible how the lives of ordinary people are thrown into chaos by seemingly innocuous decisions.I loved this book. I would definitely recommend it, but I realize not everyone will appreciate McCarthy's sparse narrative. I think if you read The Road and were looking for another McCarthy book, this one will probably be pleasing to you. I would also recommend the movie, which was beautifully captured by the Coen Brothers. I watched the movie first, but in hindsight could see where they lifted conversations and situations directly from the novel. It was very true to the source material. My only caution is that it is violent and it will haunt you well after it is finished. I love books that leave you thinking well after they are finished, this was one of those books. It is sure to be a classic.Favorite quote: "I had no say in the matter. Every moment in your life is a turning and every one a choosing. Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn. No line can be erased. I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person's path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning."Stars: 5 out of 5.Final Word: Haunting.


McCarthy Stumbles

by Paul McGrath
(3/5)

Reading Cormac McCarthy can be a little frustrating at times because of his rather unorthodox use (or non-use) of punctuation marks, but at his best--All the Pretty Horses and Blood Meridian immediately come to mind--these flaws are not only surmounted, they indeed contribute to the dreamy, almost supernatural nature of his prose. When he's not at his best though, and No Country for Old Men is not anywhere near McCarthy's best, these problems become very annoying, and are unquestionably detrimental to the novel as a whole.The first and most obvious problem with Old Men is that the story is so basic as to be insipid. Young man hunting on prairie comes across wrecked trucks, dead bodies, and a big, bad, bag of cash. Yep, you guessed it, he takes it. Not exactly a daring, original concept, this. Young man--Moss is his name--then spends the rest of the novel running from the dark forces chasing after him to get their money back. No. They are not just a common gang of drug-dealers--this is a McCarthy story, remember?--but a really, really, REALLY bad; almost superhuman Man of Evil is coming to get him.McCarthy has proved in the past to be very skillful at creating larger-than-life characters that nevertheless remain credible, and he does a very good job of this with the taciturn Moss. As he goes on his journey we learn that Moss is a pretty tough guy--a Viet Nam vet--and we actually begin to believe that he's got a chance. This, of course, is what creates the novel's dramatic tension. Will Moss prevail against the bad guy? Err, the bad, BAD guy? Well, comic books have been known to use this device also.McCarthy has also unfortunately proved that he can't just let a bad guy be bad. Like the judge in Blood Meridian, the bad guy in this one can't just blow anybody's brains out or blast them to death with a shotgun without pontificating on the cruel, random nature of life and how he is somehow the instrument of fate. This tactic is a drag on McCarthy's GOOD novels; in this melodramatic horrorshow, it comes across as just plain nonsense.Look. McCarthy can write. Everybody knows this. You can't really start this book without gulping down the first 75 pages or so like a starving man. But at some point you're going to have to stop and take a deep breath and when you do, you can't help but notice that there's just not a lot of substance here. Maybe it starts with the punctuation. Most readers are willing to spend the time to slowly digest and dissect the dreamy, poetic prose in McCarthy's earlier works, but it's a completely different thing when you're trying to figure out if the fat, Texas sheriff is thinking something banal, saying something banal, or just spitting tobacco juice. The puzzle just isn't that interesting.


Not as good as The Road

by Peter
(3/5)

This is the second book I have read of the author's after his brilliant The Road.Unfortunately, this is a step down in material. I just didn't get into the book at all.A man stumbles across a drug deal gone bad, he seizes the chance to take the drug money but this will involve being on the run for life. Tough choice but he took the money.From there, we get to see the life of the man, Moss, and the people chasing him. The book is reminiscent of James Lee Burke but not nearly at his level.


A tighter read than most McCarthy

by Peter M. Bush "Peter Michael Bush"
(4/5)

I read NCFOM right after finishing BLOOD MERIDIAN, and, I gotta tell you, it was a breath of fresh air. Mostly straight forward story telling that trips along quite nicely. Unlike BM, the reader comes to feel more toward the characters. This leads me to the violence.I break tradition and claim that, while the violence in BM is horrific and in your face, the violence in NCFOM is much more effective. I get a lot of crap from my CormacMac loving friends who strongly disagree, but my contention is that the violence in BM is perpetrated by characters who are not very specific in nature (save for the Judge) and carried out on random people we know nothing about. It is still horrific, but it is distant. Even the minor characters who are murdered in NO COUNTRY seem to me more real. As such, the violence is far more personal and up close. It is much closer and, for me, more devestating.That being said, Anton Chigurh, is no Judge Holden. But don't fault McCarthy on that. They are different characters. The Judge is an agent of focused aggression and chaos. Chigurh is a force of random death. Regardless, he is a solid character who carries an wonderful, otherworldly sense about him.My only beef with NO COUNTRY is the very last chapter where the sheriff tells of the dream of his father. While a beautiful read, it feels tacked on. The book could have ended wonderfully with the previous chapter, but the dream chapter feels like Cormac saying, "I really gotta make this sucker literary. No! More Literary! NO!!! MORE!!!"Other than that, it is a helluva read.


Another great one from the master

by Poogy
(5/5)

The bell hanging on the rope jangled and the glass door banged shut. The three browsing patrons looked up and went back to their books. He pulled his hat off and holding it in front of him walked over to the desk and stood.You looking for somethin?This a bookstore aint it.Yeah, it sayin bookstore on the sign I reckon it jus might be one a them.I'd kindly like a book then.Don't say.Yes I do.No, you don't is why I said that.I kindly beggin your pardon but I do.Well then. Sometimes when a man says he's lookin for a book sometimes he don't know but he might be lookin for something else. Sometimes when he says he's lookin for a book it might be that the book is lookin for him. Sometimes it might be that he and the book are lookin for somethin else entirely.Don't say.I kindly do say.He glanced over out the window and the sun was shining on the steepletop like birth itself on the morning the lord took his first breath when all the world was new like breath from a mare's nostrils at twenty below.If I was lookin for something else I kindly think I'd of knowed it.That may be.It may.It may not.Then if you'll kindly excuse me I'll be goin across the street to the other bookstore now.Now hold on there friend I was just raggin you.And then he shot him.


Worth it

by Rainmaker
(5/5)

Strange book...are we hearing the author's true opinions through Bell or not? Unlike any other book, the characters deaths are almost trivial, which I suppose is one of the points. It's not the ending that counts, it's what you did to get there that does. One of the main men dies and we don't see it or read it, we only get it through the eyes of Bell at the morgue.Also - Is there a distinct similarity between the ending of this book and the "fire in the hold" of Blood Meridian?


A difficult book to read, but excellent story nonetheless

by Ratmammy "The Ratmammy"
(3/5)

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by Cormac McCarthyDecember 31, 2007Rating *** (3 Stars)I think many others have probably given this book a 5 star rating. The reason for my 3 star rating is this - I had a really hard time following the story line. With hardly any distinctive quotation marks and punctuation, I couldn't tell right away who the narrator was for each chapter until half way through each one. There were no quotation marks, so at first I didn't know where dialog began or ended. I know this is an artistic style of writing, but personally I have a hard time following it.And my apologies again to all those who raved about this book, because the story was fantastic. What helped me a lot was watching the movie a few days after finishing the book, and it helped put the chapters together for me. As I watched the movie, I saw that the script followed almost to a tee the original book, including a lot of the dialog. This is the type of book that I think one needs to read more than once to really appreciate it. I do recommend the book to those who are true book fans, and who can appreciate a different style of writing.With all that said, here's a short summary of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Chigurh is a loner, a man that has only one business in mind - killing. Moss is a man that happens to come upon a stash of money in the millions, and while he is perfectly aware that there must be someone out there looking for it, he doesn't immediately know that one of the many who want that money back is Chigurh. Moss also is about to find out how good Chigurh is when it comes to getting what he wants, and getting rid of people who get in his way or detract him from a job well done. There is also the sheriff who knows Moss is on the run, and that Chigurh is on Moss's trail. It's a race against time as the sheriff tries to prevent another killing.This is one very violent story, and while I said I had a difficult time with the writing style, it is still a very good tale and one that I will not forget for many years to come. One thing that stands out is the highly descriptive writing. One can picture in detail every thing that is happening. I suggest that all who read this book watch the movie as well, because both complement each other. I rarely will watch a movie and read a book that the movie was based on, mainly because it's rare to find a movie turn out as good as the original book. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is an exception.


most accessible work by a master

by R. C. Kopf "curtis kopf"
(5/5)

his reclusiveness makes mccarthy less known than other great american novelists, but for many critics, mccarthy is america's greatest living fiction writer. harold bloom has compared him to no less than herman melville.i've always viewed mccarthy as more akin to faulkner, in terms of his focus on the disenfranchised, his geographic confines (american west) and the bleakness of his vision. also, both use biblical and religious language and imagery in their work.for all my admiration of mccarthy, i've found past books both brilliant as well as difficult and extremely bleak. blood meridian, a stunning work, is so filled with violence that i could not pick up another mccarthy work for more than a year.his latest -- No Country -- us intriguing and a boon for me in that it's the most accessible mccarthy novel I've read. it is set in relatively recent times and focuses on cops, criminals and relative innocents caught up in a drug deal gone bad. the first half of the book is stark, action-packed and fast-moving. the second half shifts pace abruptly as it contains little action and is a meditation on good & evil, accountability and fate seen thru the eyes of the novel's protagonist sheriff bell.what i found most promising is what appears to be an attempt by mccarthy to make his message and vision more understandable. in addition, as dark as it is, i found it to be his most hopeful work.i highly recommend it.


I did finally get through it...

by Reader "toronto-reader"
(2/5)

Here's my original review:"Now, I usually love Cormac's writings (I read Blood Meridian five or six times) but I just couldn't get into No Country For Old Men. It just bored the life out of me. I finally gave up partway through. To the readers who love this book, sorry."I went back and finished the book. If I could, I would upgrade it to 3 stars out of 5. Although I did in the end enjoy it, I was disappointed. The ending didn't make any sense to me. It reminds me of Cities of the Plain where McCarthy tacked on a bit of bs at the end so that, as one reviewer noted, unfortunate college students could be forced to write essays trying to interpret what McCarthy "means".In No Country For Old Men, why do all the characters seem talk like Judge Holden from Blood Meridian? Here's an example from page 253, where Chigurh is spouting some Holden-like philosophical gibberish:"Not everyone is suited to this line of work. The prospect of outsized profits leads people to exaggerate their own capabilities. In their minds. They pretend to themselves that they are in control of events where perhaps they are not. And it is always on's stance upon uncertain ground that invites the attentions of one's enemies. Or discourages it." That could be Judge Holden talking, no?Or here's something from page 227:"You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days its made out of. Nothin else." That could be Judge Holden lecturing the Kid around the campfire in Blood Meridian.In summary, it's an ok read, but I think I'll go back and re-read Blood Meridan now....


A great easy read

by Richard
(4/5)

No Country For Old Men is a real easy read. The action is relentless, and the bad guy is pretty much up there with Shawrzennegger's Terminator for his relentless pursuit of the hero.Once you get used to Cormac McCarthy's style of writing (no punctuation marks and excessively long passages in italics) then this is a real treat that fully deserved its foray in to the film world courtesy of the Coen Brothers. It's only a shame the book isn't a little bit longer.


Great Start - Good Middle - Where is the ending?? 2-3 Stars only!!

by Richard L. Martin
(3/5)

Wow - I could NOT put this book down. My edition is 309 pages and I read the first 247 pages and declared that this was the best book that I had read this year. I was commenting to friends that they should read it ASAP. The Characterizations were sharp - The Dialogue between "Sugar" and a Store clerk is Outstanding - you can actually feel the tension - the mounting terror. All the characters are developed well - you can't wait to get through the ending of the book to see how it all turns out.It Doesn't - none of the logic plot works - people and events just stumble around and nothing happens - there is no logic as how or why. The last 50 pages is a whining ramble of The good Old Sheriff - early on - a very admirable character - who can't grow up and away from his past. "Things didn't turn out like I thought they would"this is a repeated serious mantra by the Sheriiff that is suppose to explain so much in the book You've got to be kidding !!- this almost child like whine destroys all feeling for this guy and the story. The Author obviously did not know how to finish the story and it ends with not even a fizzle.I invite comments on this ending which was worse than Nelson Demeele's last book.(...)


Old Man's Blues

by R. J MOSS
(4/5)

Film noir auteurs will have snapped up options on McCarthy's,'Old Men'; Sean Penn high in the queue. There's a perfect voice-over for the disillusioned, Sheriff Bell, the rapid scene shuffling about the Tex-Mex border, for most of us an exotic location shot, a seemingly endless spate of blood splashing around decrepit ,motels and desert dust, and the inexplicable, indestructible and immoral assassin, Anton Chigurh(pronounced, we're told,as 'Sugar'). It's,'Blood Meridian', a century on. The Judge, now dressed as Chigurh, with his horse traded for a high-powered four wheeler. In a country and a culture founded on violence, the sins of the grandfathers have been visited upon their descendants. Over this bleak course, the language of that culture, and of McCarthy, has been stripped to the bone, as if the author has capitulated from literature to film scripting. In this sense, the book might have been written by someone else. Lengthy passages have the stirring prosaic rhythm of merely recounting a scene's contents found in William Wharton, for instance. McCarthy's former poetic diction has been exhausted. The pessimism here, the despairing at the severed social contract, of problems insurmountable by agencies elected to protect their citizens from them, is indeed, as harrowing as the cover blurb claims.


Godawful at best

by Rob "Coolerking"
(1/5)

This seemed like the perfect book for me. I'm past fifty (old man) and not only have I grown up in West Texas, but I own land in the very area this story takes place. Unfortunately this familiarity with the subject matter is a large part of what made this story suck so badly. So many details strain credulity. No one could be out in that land without water on them if they are walking a distance. No one has a rifle capable of hitting a bullseye at 1200 yards unless the rifle weighs at least 24lbs. and has at least a 24X scope on it (and are one of the top 3 marksmen in the world!) and no one could find anyone running for the Rio Grande (itself incredibly unlikely) at night in that part of Texas. Don't even get started on his hike on the Mexican side from those parched canyonlands to Acuna-totally unbelievable in the time alotted. Then there's McCarthy's relentless repetition of particular words like "glassing" the landscape and the incessant driving into and out of the "caldera". Just what the hell is a caldera? I had to look it up. Shows you it ain't a word anybody ever heard anyone in three generations of West Texans ever use. Then there's the spectacular flaw of the Sheriff stopping his vehicle on the Amistad bridge on HWY 90 to ponder the situation. Only one problem, that bridge is two-lane with nowhere to pull over. If he stopped there, most likely an eighteen-wheeler would have plowed into him. McCarthy's almost complete disregard for accuracy in the specific setting he has chosen baffles me. I admit, good storytelling can overcome glaring mistakes, but No Country comes up short in that department also. It could have just been called "Oh, Those Kids Today!" the way it incessantly goes on about these young-uns today and how bad their behavior is. The Sheriff's inner monologue was like sitting in on a Middle-School teacher's lounge and listening to them complain about the kids in class. It got so bad, I just skimmed about the last 20 pages and by the end, realized I hadn't missed anything.


How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?

by Robert Beveridge "xterminal"
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (Knopf, 2005)The defining trait of every Cormac McCarthy novel to date is that it has defined the notion that the more difficult a book is to read, the more rewarding it will be than any author's work since Gunter Grass completed the Danzig Trilogy. When I got a new McCarthy novel, I sat myself down and prepared for three months of struggling with language, but knew that I would have, at the end, read one of the finest, most fulfilling novels I had read that year.Now, eight years since his last published work, McCarthy drops No Country for Old Men on the heads of an unsuspecting public. And McCarthy has created in this book something he has never created before: a truly readable novel. I got through the three hundred five pages (and it's slight for a McCarthy, too-- perhaps his shortest book since Child of God) in slightly over two weeks. It took me twice that to read Child of God, for heaven's sake.One might reasonably expect that an increase in the readability (which of course translates to "commercial accessibility") of McCarthy's output might lead to a concomitant decrease in the satisfaction one gets from a McCarthy novel. I can very happily say that such has not in the least occurred. While No Country for Old Men is not the pinnacle of brilliance that was Blood Meridian, very few novels are, and it is almost unfair to compare anything, even McCarthy's other works, to the perfection of Blood Meridian. No Country for Old Men, however, easily holds its own with the rest of McCarthy's considerable opus.The book centers, as much as it can center, on Ed Tom Bell, the sheriff of a small border county in Texas. One of the residents of said county, Llewellyn Moss, stumbles upon a drug deal gone very bad out in the desert. He finds a cache of money in the wreckage and takes it for himself, triggering a manhunt both by hired assassin Anton Chigurh and by Bell, who wants to bring Moss in and protect him. Bell is the key character only by virtue of the fact that he gets the most screen time (a short monologue of Bell's opens each of the novel's thirteen chapters); Moss and Chigurh also get a good amount of time, along with some minor characters.The story is told, as fans of McCarthy's will not be surprised to find, in impressionist fashion. In a Cormac McCarthy novel, there is no such thing as a climax, a denouement, or any of the other literary terms you hear even less often than those. There is a narrative, and McCarthy spins it, telling you as much by the pieces of the story he leaves out as by those he relates, forcing the reader to fill in a number of details, looking for things that don't really exist. It is a country that is solely McCarthy's, at this point in time, and he treads it well. But he's carved out a new section of this territory, one that's closer to what you're used to reading. This book is more a conventional thriller, as much as anything McCarthy writes can be called "conventional," and it seems the holes one expects with impressionist writing are slightly smaller (with one exception, early on in the novel, that will be easily recognizable).To heap any Cormac McCarthy novel with the usual superlatives ("a stunning achievement" keeps buzzing around in my head) would be to do a disservice to the novel. Charles Hatton said of Secretariat, after his record-shattering Belmont Stakes victory, "his only point of reference is himself." Cormac McCarthy is one of the handful of living American novelists (Wendy Walker, Kathe Koja, and Barry Hannah being the other three I'm aware of) to whom that statement can be applied without reservation. No Country for Old Men does McCarthy's corpus justice. Read it. ****


The evil that men do.

by Robert C. Olson
(4/5)

A very heavy read not for the faint of heart. Dark, brooding, and menacing; Cormac McCarthy looks into the soul of his characters in No Country for Old Men and finds them all wanting. From Moss who stumbles onto 2 million dollars from a dope deal gone bad in the desert, to Sheriff Bell who just wants to protect those he serves but deep down has his own demons to slay. Bell comes closest to being an "of-the-people" type hero but in the end realizes that time has passed him by as today's brutal outlaws are a vicious breed unto themselves. Which brings us to Anton Chigurh (which rhymes with sugar), A nasty, evil man who lives by his own law and rules. A killing machine that simply eliminates anyone who "might" be a problem. Which is why he is never caught - NO witnesses! Chigurh has been hired to find the money and bring it back to those evil men who paid it for the lost dope. Moss who found it thinks he can simply disappear. But like the novel "A Simple Plan" nothing is a easy as it appears and Chigurh has other ideas and hunts Moss down. As people die one by one, Sheriff Bell realizes that although he is a good lawman today's outlaws are a different breed; beyond bad or ruthless simply evil to the core. In the end Bell is left to ponder what has happened to his world and decides that it is time to retire.While reading this dark story I was reminded of something Edmund Burke wrote, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing." Sometimes good men do all they can and evil still triumphs. Why? Because it can.This is a very heavy story not to be read lightly. Good guys do not win and bad guys do. I liked Sheriff Bell and saw in him the unfairness of it all. He felt compelled to protect the people he served but the evil he was fighting was simply too great.Mr. McCarthy writes in a dialectal style which gives flavor to the story and his characters. I liked it. I also enjoyed Sheriff Bell's views of life that he gave at the beginning of several chapters. It was refreshing and insightful. Of all the characters, Sheriff Bell's wife exuded the most inner strength. I wish Mr. McCarthy would have developed her more.Excellent story but a lot of violence. All germane to the plot but can turn off squeamish readers. No sex, but also a great deal of coarse language.All in all a recommend. Cormac McCarthy is one of America's top literary writers whose style and character development is noteworthy. Not a happy read but realistically gritty.


SAD, WHAT MIGHT'VE BEEN

by Roger Angle
(2/5)

A weak, confusing and largely pointless story from one of our greatest writers. I just feel so sorry. My condolences, Mr. McCarthy. Your immense talent has mostly deserted you here.The worst of it, as a friend of mine says, is that you can see the book it might've been. It probably could not have been as richly rewarding as his great novels, "Blood Meridian" and "Suttree," but it could've been a lot better than this. (A similar book that is much more successful is Kem Nunn's "Tijuana Straits.")Still, "No Country For Old Men" has its moments. Even for all its faults, it's much better than the usual bestseller cheese.


Nicely complements the excellent film

by Ronald H. Clark
(5/5)

As much as I enjoyed the film version of this Cormac McCarthy novel, I left the theater with a number of questions about the plot and the characters. I found the novel itself to more than adequately address the gaps I had detected in the film. For one thing, the central character of Sheriff Bell (and what was motivating him) became much more developed. Also the central theme of the story, namely that drug cartels had gotten so large, powerful and rich that we are rapidly approaching the point when conventional law enforcement, especially those legendary Texas country sheriffs, is simply unequipped effectively to deal with them. The Wells character became much more understandable after reading the novel. And even Chigurh, the apparently sociopathetic almost robotic gunman, emerged with much greater clarity after reading the novel. McCarthy writes dialogue ("The Road" is another example) that is quite unique--it is flat as a pancake, very rapid fire, epigrammatic, and yet with the exception of Hemingway, comes the closest to capturing the way people actually speak (without the burden of trying to decipher Texas accents so prevalent in the film). So, the book enriches one's understanding of the film, adds some additional scenes not in the film (such as Moss confronting Chigurh face-to-face) and clears up the mystery of how Moss dies. On its own, the novel is a great story which grabs and holds the reader. Quite a yarn to say the least!


The Good Guys Do Not Win All The Time

by Sancti Spiritus
(5/5)

My astounding first book from the virtuoso, Cormac McCarthy. The book is so interesting, and fast paced that the pages almost turn themselves. The violence is gripping. The characters well drawn, and interesting. The antagonist is well sculpted, and about the most demonic bad guy I have read on a written page. Bravo!


A very violent and frightening future foretold!

by Savvy-Suz "A Book holds a house of Gold."
(5/5)

Sheriff Bell knows EVIL when he sees it and he clearly doesn't want to live this feared future.He tells the reader at the beginning of this very disturbing and deftly rendered novel...."Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet ofdestruction and I don't want to confront him. I know he's real. I have seen his work. I walked in front of those eyes once.I won't do it again."Cormac McCarthy is a master storyteller, but not always readily accessible. He makes you work. He excecises the gray matter in your headand spins you around a bit before you the hard landing. But, boy, what a ride you get!Those little seeds he plants spark into a revelatory cerebral stimulus which just stays and stays and then shadows after you....long after you've put the book back on the shelf.Called his most straightforward and uncomplicated novel, don't expect to get off that easy.....this story is no picnic for the casual reader!Steel yourself for plenty of unfathomable grim and grisly scenes in the crimson painted desert.It is a fast paced and furious narrative that both shocks and surprises with it's blood-spattered, gaping drama.Not for the faint of heart.Where are we headed? McCarthy tells us that "We're bein bought with our own money."........."Money that can buy whole countries."He leaves us with some pretty simple, but salient thoughts at the end when the Sheriff answers a reporter's question about how crime has gotten so out of hand."It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners. Any time you quit hearin Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight. I told her."......."you finally get into the sort of breakdown in mercantile ethics that leaves people settin around out in the desert dead in their vehicles and by then it's just too late."A very wise and sensible warning to a scary 'lookin' future........a future fraught with violence and drugs.


Texas Noir

by sbissell3
(4/5)

I'm not much of a fan of McCarthy, his `Border Trilogy' was more of a bored trilogy in my opinion, but I did really enjoy `The Road' recently. When I saw that the Coen brothers were making a movie of this book I figured I'd better read it quick. That is not hard to do; it is only the double spacing and seemingly endless one sentence paragraphs that stretch this out to 300 pages. If normal spacing and style were used, it would be a longish short story. It's a pretty interesting read albeit a bit hard to follow; obtuse usually, opaque at times. There is a truly evil bad guy and a protagonist who you root for knowing all the time he won't make it. I enjoyed it, but if you really like Texas Noir, try Joe R. Landsdale, author of `Bubba Ho-Tep,' one of the greatest horror short stories every and the basis of the incredible Bruce Campbell movie.Just a word about `literary critics.' If you were to believe some of the blurbs about this book you'd think it was an American Masterpiece. It is good short crime fiction, just as `The Road' is a good, short, post-apocalyptic SciFi novel. Don't be fooled by the Literati who would have you believe McCarthy writes on tablets of stone.


Starts good, then falls apart

by Schtinky "Schtinky"
(3/5)

'No Country For Old Men' starts fast, with a violent murder of a young deputy by a chained prisoner. Then it switches to Llewelyn Moss, who's out hunting antelope when he stumbles across three trucks and multiple dead men in the middle of nowhere. In the back of one truck is Mexican brown heroin, in the back of another two million dollars in a case. Moss takes the money and heads home, but after waking up in the middle of the night decides to go back to the scene. Big mistake, this time he's not alone, and the drug dealers are searching the land for him. After a narrow escape, Moss sends his wife to Odessa and takes off for Del Rio. Unfortunately, on his tail is Anton Chigurh, the deputy-killer.All this happens within the jurisdiction of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. Sheriff Bell's thoughts and reflections are scattered through the book inbetween chapters, giving us an inside to his character unavailable from other characters. Bell works hard on tracking down both Moss and Chigurh, always seeming just slightly behind the fleeing thief and his drug dealer tail.While the book starts out fast, it slowly decelerates into too much reflection and not enough action. After an abrupt incident, it becomes nothing more than random, scrawled musings through to the end of the book; rather like an unfinished thought. My guess is that the author, entitling the book 'No Country For Old Men' meant to focus on the changing times of Bell's jurisdiction and how he handled his job and personal life through the changes, but it didn't work with the rest of the book. Too many empty clothes hangers left in this closet.A word about the author's writing style: Cormac McCarthy is quickly becoming one of the most popular authors of present time, however, I still find his writing style slightly annoying. No quotes for dialogue, no indicator of who's speaking, so there's no division between prose and speech. However, he captures the good ol' boy conversations and laid-back mentality of the characters quite well. I recommend checking it out from the library rather than a purchase.


More Meat on the Bone than First Glance Indicates

by Scott Schiefelbein
(5/5)

Cormac McCarthy's latest novel, "No Country For Old Men," is a lean, mean piece of work that can almost get lost through its well-publicized "accessibility." Yes, it's "accessible" in that unlike other McCarthy works, you don't have to puzzle over passages and McCarthy's unusual syntax just to figure out what the heck is going on. Rather, the pages fly by as spare dialogue dominates the work and keeps the action moving forward. I finished the book in a bare fraction of the time that it took for me to read McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" -- which I admit was slow going. But while I enjoyed "No Country," I couldn't help but feel that I had missed something.So I dove back into the novel for a second go-round, and the second reading took much longer than the first. Without giving an exegesis of the novel, let me just say that certain passages, such as a dialogue in a diner shortly before a shootout, or a scene where a key character almost inexplicably returns to a location visited previously, are much more pregnant with meaning the more you savour McCarthy's words. The brevity of the dialogue forces the reader to linger over the multiple meanings and implications of the words, and to consider what was not said as much as what was.While not as titanic as "Blood Meridian" or as operatic as the Border Trilogy, "No Country" is vintage McCarthy. Look for the usual evocative descriptions of the Southwestern landscape, and as usual McCarthy's "action" scenes are among the best in the business thanks to his spare prose. The book does not arrive at the anticipated climax one would expect after the opening chapters, and principal characters have unexpected fates.Sheriff Bell, the aging narrator of much of the novel, is a fully realized character, and his ruminations on justice and the state of the world are worthy expressions and analyses of the complex, often bizarre world we live in. Bell speaks for himself, but when you understand where he's coming from, his words gain a certain universality.I can't say that "No Country" is as good as "Blood Meridian," but that doesn't keep me from giving this five stars. For one thing, it doesn't have anything approaching "Meridian's" maddeningly confusing epilogue attached to it. While I wish a few items had been included in the novel, I trust McCarthy to leave out what should be left out, and to let his choices work for me. Very few authors have earned, or deserve, that kind of trust.


An Expert With Minimalism

by Scott William Foley
(5/5)

This was my first book by Cormac McCarthy, and I must admit he has won a reader for life.No Country For Old Men explodes with subtly and simplicity as it offers us Moss, a man who finds a drug deal gone bad in the middle of nowhere along the Mexican border. Dead bodies are everywhere, and when he finds a case full of millions of dollars, he can't help himself. As you can imagine, there are numerable parties who'd like that money back. And so the hunt for Moss begins.Dialogue is terse, details are sparing, yet the story is absolutely riveting and I could not put it down. For some McCarthy's violence and unapologetic disregard for his characters' safety may be upsetting, but I loved his dedication to giving us the story as it could only unfold.We tend to shower accolades upon authors who give us specific descriptions on every conceivable object within a story. I personally found McCarthy's expertise with minimalism refreshing and quite admirable.I completely recommend you read No Country For Old Men.~Scott William Foley, author of Souls Triumphant


Where are we going?

by Simone Oltolina
(3/5)

Just like "Blood Meridian", NCFOM is a book of atmospheres, more than a straight-out plot-driven novel. There is a plot, of course, but it's fairly banal and, in different hands, it would read as a generic thriller about a man who finds some drug money and takes it, only to be chased-down by a contract hit man.McCarthy's terse dialogues, together with the beautiful description of the landscapes (with its gothic, almost mythological vibe) add a lyrical, otherworldly dimension to the whole book.NCFOM turns out to be a novel about the Zeitgeist, about our deeply corrupted moral (or so the author seem to imply), about the dawn (or maybe the spread) of a new, soulless, man (which Anton Chigurh embodies).It's an unsettling, deeply pessimistic novel, punctuated by the considerations of the "old man" of the title, who might be an alter-ego of McCarthy himself and who seems to regret a time long gone.


A Man Could Lose His Soul...

by Sir Charles Panther "Life is hard. It's hard...
(5/5)

Man finds lots of money. Man runs, is pursued. Many casualties ensue.I came to McCarthy by way ofThe Road (Oprah's Book Club), which was one of the most profoundly moving things I've read in fifteen years; I find myself thinking of that book and its setting, questions and issues almost daily. Through it I became aware of McCarthy's other work, and was eager to get to it. Then came the Coen brothers' brilliantNo Country for Old Men, and I had to move this up in the reading queue. I did save the film until after I was done with the book, and I'm glad I did; this is better.As in The Road, there are many unanswered questions about aspects of the story off the main narrative line--who did what, where characters and events came from, where they go, what happens next, etc. They are tantalizing, an aspect I have found that keeps McCarthy's work in my head, sorting through the unexplained, wondering in which way these superfluous stories could have gone. They are a great hook, providing tangential snippets of context to a circuitous, unpredictable yet headlong single story line.This story is deceptive, beginning as a very west Texas noir tale of adventure. I was reminded of James Dickey's magnificentDELIVERANCE (BLOOMSBURY FILM CLASSICS S.). But while Deliverance was Dickey's rumination on what exactly it means to be a man in the age of the office job, Lay Z Boy recliners and strip malls, McCarthy posits a much more simple question: are you ready to be a man when the time comes?When Life--with that capital L--comes at you and delivers unbidden the horrific, tragic or sublimely blissful, will you be ready? Can you make yourself ready; is there any way to prepare? And if you think you're ready, are you really? McCarthy asks: what have you done, and in the same breath, what have you not done? What have you overlooked, and what--this is crucial--happens to you and others depending on how ready you are? What are you prepared to do? How far will you go?Being ready means being prepared to act instantly, outside of cultural and societal norms, against your upbringing and your education, at the most basic level, not unthinkingly, but unflinchingly and uncompromisingly. Can you strip it all away, and if you do what does that make you? Can you come back?This is where a man can lose his soul. Both The Road and this work make it clear that there is a point where a man chooses to keep or forfeit his humanity, his dignity, when he chooses decency over barbarism. McCarthy's exploration shows that when the choice--made consciously--is for dignity and righteousness, ultimately it is self-destructive.McCarthy's work has a place for those who hold on to that uniquely human core of decency, who see what really needs to be done, the ugly and brutal which may need to be done for survival, and in essence condemn themselves, usually wittingly, by remaining true to decency and the care/service of others. Death is coming for us all, only a matter of time, so why not take a stand and choose your time and place, and do it with a self-determined honor, with a clean slate? There may be a reckoning--that's really as far as I see McCarthy going down that road of Good v. Evil, God v. Satan--but if there is, these decisions will tip that scale, and for those that remain behind you live on as an example of the right choice.The book's style is sparse, matching the desert and scrubland the story inhabits. McCarthy's narrative convention of not using quotations is here, but is neither a distraction nor does it lend to confusion. The narrative structure is essentially cinematic, with the sheriff-narrator providing a voiceover context, the real depth of the story, and the chapters often moving in parallel. The dialog flows as easily and effortlessly as Elmore Leonard's best, and there is no question as to what is happening in the narrative.Surprisingly, the "action," the main story, was done well before the book was. The bulk of the book and the story of money, guns and blood exists as the extended setup for one man's rumination on life's purpose, the existence of God, and what it means to be true to yourself, those you love, and those you serve. This is the last 40-odd pages of the book, and where the deepest contemplation lies. There is a lot going on here, with a lot of to my reading earnest exploration of a man's purpose, his honor, his character, and ultimately his identity. Is God out there? And if he is, and if he's the kind of guy we've all been told he is, how is it that life plays out in these ways?Bottom line: This is no happy, light and frothy, stereotypically inane TV-style read of a luckless loner who makes good after some minor tribulation. The story is stark and dark, violent and unflinching, just as life is. McCarthy poses a pessimistic vision of where we are and where we are headed, and explores whether the noble choice of decency and selflessness is tenable, even though it seems to be suicidal.


Violent and tender

by Sirin
(3/5)

This is the first Cormac McCarthy I have read so I will only sketch a few thoughts, and defer to his long term fans who can set this violent, hard boiled novel in context.The novel is a fascinating one for the British reader, especially this one who is far more familiar with the Mandarin, East Coast saturated prose of Roth, Updike and Bellow. McCarthy is far more of a Western stylist, more John McCain than Hilary Clinton - the omission of inverted commas for speech, and the reluctant witholding of commas is a striking, honest, spare style that he moulds into formidable impact. His careful poetic sentences are almost Biblical in their cadences. At times he seems to be straining for gravitas through theatrical, portentous prose to give weight to what is essentially a page turning modern day western.The plot does grip - the late Kingsley Amis would have approved of this book since it is spattered with shots ringing out. Lewellen Moss, out antelope hunting in 1980s West Texas, finds the carnage of a drug shoot out and a case of money. He takes the case, and knows he is putting his life on the line, but does it anyway. Sure enough, a ripping plot takes off involving the cooly psychopathic assasin Chigurgh (pronounced 'Sugar'), another hit man set out to pursue him, and flaling along behind, as ever, the police. Sheriff Bell is a grandaddy figure, who cuts a tender pose in amongst the carnage with his italicised reflections on the moral decline of the Great American West - drugs, the decline of parental values, and so on.There is a female character - Lewellen's wife, Carla Jean, but she is lightly sketched and fulfils a fairly stereotypical second fiddle wife to the hero who enters the action full blooded.All in all, an interesting introduction to this writer's works. But I need to move on to his more grandiose works - Blood Meridian, and his Border Trilogy, as well as the early stuff and his latest 'The Road' (the McCarthy novel that finally broke through to bestseller status in the UK market thanks in no small part to the Oprah thing), to properly measure up with this curious American stylist.


A simple review.

by Stephen Thoemmes "All sins are just efforts t...
(4/5)

I do not like to retell the whole story of books,as it already has happpened in other reviews. That said, this book was tense, very real, and kept me reading at all hours. I was so involved that I felt the country, I knew the langauge to be genuine, and I became upset at the downturns. I loved it. Wish it were longer.


A worthy bookend to McCarthy's border novels

by Steve
(5/5)

McCarthy is, without question, one of the best writers at work in America today. "No Country for Old Men" is a significant addition to his already-impressive body of work.As I was reading, it struck me that NCFOM serves as a kind of bookend to McCarthy's Western novels, beginning with the tremendous "Blood Meridian" in 1985, and continuing in the '90s with the Border Trilogy. "Blood Meridian" is a cold-stone glimpse of the West as it really was, as it was really "won"--it depicts a country founded on violence and bloodshed, where man has banished God and mortgaged his own soul for the sake of an earthly bounty. The brutal, amoral Judge Holden is the driving force of that novel--in NCFOM, the role is filled by Anton Chigurh, the articulate-though-remorseless killer who believes in nothing and so has nothing to fear or to lose. Chigurh is a character, but he is also an icon. He is a "new kind" of criminal, the product of a society that has lost its soul and spirit. The pessimistic view McCarthy paints of America (and all humanity) in this novel is only slightly leavened by the character of Sheriff Bell, whose tortured soul-searching reminds us of a day when morals (in the humanistic sense) were, indeed, absolute. A throwback to traditional values, the Bell character is an absolute delight and an anomaly in McCarthy's fiction.NCFOM does seem, in many ways, to solidify and bring to a conclusion the vision McCarthy first revealed in "Blood Meridian." It will be fascinating to see where he takes his fiction next. If only we didn't have to wait so long!


Strong and Powerful Medicine, Almost Too Chilling to Put Down

by Steve Koss
(5/5)

One hundred and fifteen reviews at the time I write this one, including one written in mock-Cormac McCarthy voice, and it is clear that people either love or hate this book. Put me in the love category - this is a brilliant and unforgettable work. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN breaks McCarthy's mold, moving at a fast pace with relatively little description, a lot less lyricism, and minimalist dialog whose pitch and tone creates an atmosphere all its own. In fact, McCarthy's dialog here creates the scenery. Who needs mountains and trees and rivers and hawks and wolves and horses when we have these sparse but rich voices?Those who criticize this book for its violence miss the point - America was founded and conquered by violence, leads the world in gun ownership and deaths from guns, spawns Columbines and drive-by shootings, and imposes its military might more freely on others than any other country in the world. Through his stories, McCarthy explodes the myth of a benign, peaceful and peace-loving America. We are all of us just a random coin flip away from a BTK killer or a Jeffrey Dahmer, a Columbine, or a drug deal gone sour that leaves innocent bystanders dead in its wake. The title, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, is a gorgeous double entendre about the story's contents - the setting of the book is no place for old men to live and work any more (witness Sheriff Bell's fear of the psychopathic killer, Chigurh), and it has become a place in which few old men remain alive. They are all too busy being killed off in their relative youth.As for the main characters, Anton Chigurh comes close to being one of the scariest creatures ever described in fiction. Utterly amoral, his curious breed of ethics consists of being true to his word and honest with respect to his clients' dealings. He would never take an unearned cent, yet he thinks nothing of blowing a steel bolt through the forehead of anyone who gets in his way (or who might remember him). He wreaks havoc through south Texas and yet remains virtually invisible - almost no one who could describe him is still alive. Although he appears to be named for a "chigger" - a parasitic larva found in the southwest that sucks the blood of humans - his bite is far worse. He is Death itself, minus the black hooded cloak and the long-handled scythe. Is there anyone who doesn't believe deep inside that there are more Chigurh's (or near-Chigurh's) among us?It is through his faint-hearted pursuit of Chigurh that Sheriff Bell confronts his own fears and demons. Bell's meditations, short chapters presented entirely in italics, function almost like seeing his life flash before his eyes at the moment of death. He contemplates his love and life with his wife Loretta, his cowardly behavior at his moment of truth in World War II, and his ineffectualness in protecting the citizens of his county when the time came that they truly needed him.I have read every one of McCarthy's books and loved all but the most recent of them. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is clearly not the novel many readers expected of Cormac McCarthy, but frankly, I'm happy it's not another CROSSING or CITIES OF THE PLAIN. Beside, where does it say that he has to keep rewriting BLOOD MERIDIAN or ALL THE PRETTY HORSES? This is a fascinating read, at once a bloody crime thriller, a meditation on chance and random violence in American society, and an exploration of what makes for a life well-lived. Read it for what McCarthy gives us, not for what you bring to it in the way of expectations or preconceptions. The story is strong medicine, but nothing else seems to work any more. After you finish, listen to the song "If It Were Up to Me," by Cheryl Wheeler. It offers an interesting accompaniment to this book.


Criminals win out

by steve rowe
(5/5)

I was amazed how closely the Cohen brothers followed this book in the movie version. Because I saw the movie first, the book had less impact than it otherwise would have had.


Good Beginning and Middle...

by Stone Cold Nuts
(3/5)

The book is an easy read and takes an unusual twist or two, but the last fifth of the book was not satisfying. It is almost as if McCarthy didn't know how to end it. Perhaps a better book in the "violent cultural melt-down" genre would be found in Coetzee's novels. If No Country For Old Men were done by Hollywood, they would certainly need to change the ending.


Excellent

by Susan D. Miller "Suz"
(5/5)

I'm almost finished, unfortunately, but still outstanding. Got it all....modern day cowboy but w guns, drugs, and intelligence, a little cunning sprinkled in. Plot, characters all outstanding.


One hell of a book

by Terrence A. "cinemaparker@twitter"
(5/5)

I loved the movie and finally took it upon myself to seek out the source material, which I have to say is a superb read. The book clocks in at just over 300 pages and it's a really quick read. Still, the book's length and ease to get through don't take away from its power. The book is written so well that as I was reading it, I could easily imagine the Coen Brothers having absolutely no problems with adapting the book for the screen. It literally reads like a detail for detail description of the movie, of course with extra little scenes and lines of dialogue. Every passage is vividly described and its very easy to translate McCarthy's words into corresponding images. His writing tends to be sparse but easy to follow. Truth be told, I've never read an author who not once uses quotation marks to denote dialogue. Still, the characters voices are each their own and their actions and outcomes make perfect sense. Even though the movie leaves very little out from the book, the book manages to make certain story details clearer than how they may have been presented in the film itself. The character of Sheriff Bell is probably one of the most honest voices I have ever heard (or in this case, read) in a novel. I know a lot of people don't fully get the title of this work but its with this character in particular that you understand not just the title but the general attitude and pessimism of people sick of an ever changing world where things seem to be getting a whole lot worse than a whole lot better. Great read and I guess as good a place as any to start with Cormac McCarthy's work.


If after eighty some years God hadn't come into your life, you'd still have to figure that He knew what He was doin.

by terry
(5/5)

No Country for Old Men is a stirring chase narrative set in south west Texas, which captures an anxious reader from the early pages to the end. Although one has to settle for a non-heroic protagonist, there are plenty of collaterally damaged with whom to share one's empathy. This should make a great movie, a hypothesis soon to be tested.Sheriff Bell is the compromised good guy. He's a kind of Eric Hoffer with a badge, a wizened philosopher schooled by observation more than anything else. McCarthy gave him most of the memorable lines. If one just reread the italicized parts (those special to Bell), one would have countless moments of interesting reflection. He's a gem of a character without canonization.The bad guy is Anton Chigurh, a perfectly tuned evil-machine, who, with careful pronunciation of his last name, naturally gets under the skin of Sheriff Bell. In fact, he is somewhat the deus, or really, diabolus ex machina for this story. With remarkable feats of cunning assassination and survival, he bears the plot to the end. He is both known and unknowable. Also, he is not short changed in the good lines department. However, a reread of his opinions will prolong fitful sleep.The rest of the cast of characters perfectly fit the story, and one in particular (Carla Jean Moss) is a truly tragic figure. Her husband, whose very human impulse is to grasp for the gold ring, leads the enthralling chase to its unwanted end. A character named Wells, a skilled mercenary, is, I suspect, merely a utility so that the readers don't underestimate Chigurh. Sheriff Bell's wife, Loretta, is the assertion that a good marriage is synergy. And the collaterally damaged are just folks set unwittingly where evil is unmistakable, and God's will perplexing.It is a book that has much more to say than I'm presently aware, but I'll keep working on it. Too, it is a weekend read, if one so desires it to be.


Hell (American style)

by The Concise Critic:
(4/5)

I'm not partial to McCarthy.I like it far better, though, when McCarthy does Hemingway, ("No Country. . .") than when McCarthy does Faulkner ("Suttree").This is a well-told tragic tale. Almost everyone dies messily--leaving drying brainmatter somewhere. But, more sadly--prematurely(?) or prophetically(?)--McCarthy is burying Present American Society: "I wake up sometimes way in the night and I know as certain as death that there aint nothin short of the second comin of Christ that can slow this train."And so, well told or not--before all my leaking optimisim is gone--I better stop reading McCarthy, right though he may be; this train passenger needs something more than death before he dies.


McCarthy Writes A Modern Day Western - Read It Today!

by Tom Newman
(5/5)

When Llewelyn Moss, an apparently simple hunter, discovers a truck, several dead men, a load of heroin, and 2.3 million dollars in the middle of the Texan desert, a bloody hunt begins that ends in the violent deaths of nearly every character in the book, minus the good Sheriff and his wife. Don't become too attached to anyone, as they may not last to the next page... Although their language is simple and accurately reflects the Texas setting, both Moss and the Sheriff are complex characters shaped by an austere environments as well as their experiences in the Vietnam War. Moss might appear to be a country bumpkin/hunter, but his sniper training during the war created a crafty and resilient personality. The Sheriff speaks simply as well but McCarthy's examination of his thoughts shows us a complex and sophisticated character.McCarthy's prose, reminiscent of Hemingway, captures the spirit of the modern-day West. Writing in both the first and third person, McCarthy shifts from one mind to another, at once in the thoughts and memory of his main character, the Sheriff, the methodical thoughts of Moss, then in the psychotic mind of Anton Chigur. Chigur is perhaps the most disturbing character, a deadly killer who dispatches his victims with a cattle-killing stun gun that serves double duty as a battering ram to open any normal lock. Chigur begins as a simple psychotic but becomes more and more complex through the book, eventually becoming something of an Angel of Death who decides fates based on the toss of a coin. Chigur's own fate rests on the whims of destiny.The deadly mix of desperate men, a lost load of heroin, and 2.3 million dollars makes for a fascinating and unsettling read. Don't open this book unless you have the time to read it from cover to cover!


A modern classic.

by TRH
(5/5)

No Country for Old Men is a modern classic. A classic that gives hints of another time, the time of Faulkner and O'Conner, a time of a men looking for the good in a grotesque world.No country for old men is a powerfully written novel that evokes man's eternal struggle against an encroaching barbarism that always threatens to swallow our civilization whole. Our struggle against our own depravity and evil inhumanity.This chilling novel invokes our most inner fears in order to show our innermost struggles as human beings. Great novel,make sure you spend time thinking about its significance.


Virtue Takes a Holiday

by T. Slaven
(5/5)

This is an extraordinarily complex and nuanced novel masquerading as a shoot 'em up. Like other of McCarthy's stories, the novel is propelled by the reflexively violent nature of men operating outside social constraints. The particular millieu for this story is the drug trade, depicted as an evil force of nature that makes claims on the lives of all the characters. The dynamics of the story lead toward entropy. The central figure is a West Texas sheriff clinging to old concepts of honor, who must confront the facts of a case he cannot solve involving a merciless killer he can neither name nor understand. His inability to do his duty to the people of the county he is sworn to protect amplifies a lifelong sense of inadequacy and duplicity that is revealed through a continuing interior monologue. Without giving away any elements of the captivating and fast-moving plot, the message seems to be inescapably dark: evil is afoot in the world, and we lack the tools and the will to defeat it. Our only small victories come from love and trust and as much selflessness as we can muster.The writing is extraordinary. McCarthy's style is of course mannered, but his words flow from the page and the voices of his characters are remarkably clear. The book is a delight to anyone who loves the language and loves to see it used well, and the story works on so many levels that it is difficult to imagine anyone -- apart from those who find violence offensive --who will not find something to take away from this novel.


A dark, searing portrait of good versus evil

by Ty B. Powers "fledgling book reviewer"
(5/5)

"I have no enemies. I don't permit such a thing." So says the murderous antagonist of Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" and so brings to mind many of the questions explored in the novel: How does evil exist? By destroying our enemies, are we confronting evil or merely displacing it with an even more sinister motivation? Do we knowingly allow it, as a derivative of our own selfishness, to permeate and discolor our lives or is it a monstrous, viable unstoppable entity with a mind all its own?"No Country for Old Men" is a mesmerizing, riveting epic, a dark, searing portrait of good versus evil. One of McCarthy's prominent themes is how balance strives to be achieved at all costs, both in nature and within humanity. This theme is represented by the novel's structure, which reminded me of one of those angled three-way clothing-store mirrors, with the three main characters reflecting each other, yet maintaining their own multifaceted personas.Anton Chigurh, a villain so purely malevolent and free of any other emotion he could be described as perversely virginal, serves as a fastidious Grim Reaper of sorts, wielding fate like a bludgeon, leaving a bloody, yet calculated trail of victims across southwest Texas. Ed Tom Bell, the virtuous, yet flawed sheriff of Terrell County, struggles to put an end to the mayhem, all the time confronting internally his own fears of the unknown and the unknowable. In the middle of this chaotic web is Llewelyn Moss, the story's down-to-earth Everyman, careening toward something irretrievably heartbreaking.Underneath the lofty themes of fate versus free will, harmony versus upheaval, and love versus indifference lies one helluva masterful detective story. McCarthy deftly amps up the traditional cat-and-mouse police procedural; some of the characters are so strikingly developed with such precision and clarity and certain scenes are so taut and suspenseful, you'll think you're watching the silver screen.This is my second McCarthy book, after "The Road," and I'm quickly realizing that one of McCarthy's most provocative ideas is that to appreciate beauty in all its transforming power is to divest it of the horror, filth, and despair surrounding it.


Ultimately Depressing & Frightening

by Vance "Klaatu"
(4/5)

Rather than take the easy and expected path, and have Sheriff Bell find the vile villian Chigurh and dispatch him in the way the reader is hoping and thirsts for, he allows the Sheriff, like most of us, to abandon the project and simply live with the idea of the existence of evil in the world and that he simply cannot do anything about it. Evil wins, like it does everyday in the real world, justice does not prevail.The spare prose of the book is reminscent of Bukowski (indeed, Bukowski could have written this book), or David Schow. It was my first McCarthy, and there will be more!


I like his other books better

by Wanderer
(4/5)

The premise of the story is compelling, and the writing super. I felt, however, that the novel was too dark--too realistic about what might happen in that situation (I don't want to give away the ending).I loved "Blood Meridian," one of the most powerful novels I ever read, and I also loved "All the Pretty Horses."I hesitate to give "No Country for Old Men" anything but five stars, but I thought several times in reading this fascinating story that McCarthy is consumed with a negative picture of the future. Too darkly realistic.Hermann Hess saw the decline of the West in the record players of the 1920s. Look what is happening to our music--the sounds of the great orchestras are being replaced by this screechy so-called "music." Hess could not envision technological perfection in those old Victrolas, and indeed with the rise of Hitler, it did look like the free West was on its decline. I sense this erroneous assumption in McCarthy's novel.I know this is fiction, but that's the thought came to me, nevertheless. How can I say this...if all the books about murders and serial killers represented reality, there would be ten times as much crime as there is. Then, McCarthy's dark vision of the present and future would be more justified.Emerson said of life, "The too much contemplation of these limits induces meanness. They who talk much of destiny, their birth-star, etc., are in a lower dangersous plane, and invite the evils they fear."


Dialogue masterpiece

by Wayne Price
(5/5)

There's a plot here, to be sure, but this book is worth reading just to enjoy the West Texas old man way of expressing himself. The inserted sections of introspection by the old Sheriff are superb. I suggest that any reader pay special attention to this from the beginning. Other reviewers have pulled out some of the wise sayings of Sheriff Bell, Here's a couple of others: "I think by the time you're grown you're about as happy as you're going to be. You'll have good times and bad times, but in the end you'll be about as happy as you was before. Or as unhappy. I've knowed people that just never did get the hang of it." (p.265) Or, 'I think sometimes people would rather have a bad answer about things than no answer at all." (p. 282) (That last quotation might explain to some who wonder why mainstream protestant groups are losing numbers, while more conservative groups are gaining!)Maybe the ending leaves some unsatisfied, but the book ends the way life does so often. No neat knots tied. But this is an enjoyable book, especially because of one "old man's" musings.


Could not put it down!!

by Whisky Lover
(5/5)

Despite having seen the excellent movie a few times, I still wanted to read the book. It is just amazing. Such a suspenseful and exciting read that captures you and takes you to another world (even though I already knew the ending!). The characters and voices are so real and engaging. This is excellent writing and a must read!


Expected a classic, got a very good book.

by William Capodanno
(3/5)

This was a good book by a great American writer. I had higher expectations after reading several other McCarthy novels and having several friends highly recommend this book to me. To me, "All the Pretty Horses" and "the Road" are head and shoulders above this novel.I thought the first half of the novel was superb -- it set up the dynamic of the changing deep heart of Texas in the early 80s -- the impact of cheap drugs from across the border affecting the small town Texas, specifically a small town sheriff not prepared for the changes taking place around him.There are several things I didn't like about the novel. It seemed that McCarthy tried to rationalize Chigurgh's psychotic nature, especially his encounter with Moss's wife Carla Jean. Second, I felt McCarthy wasted a whole chapter when Moss encounter the young girl at the motel near the end of the novel. Lastly, I felt the several chapters of Sherrif Bell's reflections slogged along and added nothing to the novel. However, Bell's dialogue with Uncle Ellis was vintage McCarthy and well worth reading the book just for their exchange.I almost never enjoy a movie version of a book better than the book. However, this is one instance where I felt the movie was enhanced the material rather than detracted from it. Enjoy the novel, just set your expectations properly, especially if you are a McCarthy fan, he has produced much finer work.


More than Worth It

by Wyman Richardson
(5/5)

Unlike The Road (the movie version of which, inexplicably, showed up in one theater in Atlanta but nowhere closer to me ((WHY?))), I actually saw the movie version of No Country for Old Men first. The movie was next to brilliant (but, of course, it's a Coen brothers film, so you know...), but having just finished the book I can now apply that wonderfully worn but almost always true cliche' to this story: the book is better than the movie.Bottom line: McCarthy can write like a tornado. His prose is stark and brutal. It's very deceptive. There are almost no rhetorical frills to it and almost no overly complex sentences but, when you finish reading McCarthy's work you wake up a couple of days later feeling bruised, like you've been sucker punched by your Grandpa. If you just got lost in all that, let me just assure you that, yes, that was a compliment.Mrs. Richardson wanted to sit this one out, having just read The Road. She loved The Road, as did/do I, but it was a dark read and she wanted a respite. So, of course, a few nights back I say, "Listen to this scene," and, of course, she says the next morning, "He's a really good writer!" And there you go. We read most of it together.Depending on how much Cormac McCarthy's views are similar to those of Sheriff Bell (and I suspect they're very similar), he may just be my new best friend. Bell's sporadic reflections, italicized throughout, were worth the read. He drops wisdom about family, God, truth, faith, war, patriotism, and, of all things, abortion. This last point very much caught me off guard, pleasantly. Bell recounts sitting next to a liberal woman at a conference who wants to make sure that her daughter grows up in a country where she can get an abortion. Bell wryly assures her that there does not seem to be much threat of that changing. Then he goes on to say (and I paraphrase): "I suspect she'll always be able to get an abortion. She'll also be able to have you put to sleep too." Bell then notes that that ended the conversation.Brilliant, I say, and true!Chigurh is more brutal in the book than in the movie, if that's possible. Little scenes the movie left out gave me chills. After shooting up the Mexican dope dealers after his gunfight with Llewelyn, Chigurh stands over one of them ready to execute them. The dope dealer looks away. Chigurh says, "No. I want you to look at me." Then he shoots him. It's at moments like these that you enter and understand the Sheriff's suffocating anxiety about what's happening to the world. Chigurh is amoral, cold, soulless almost.Llewelyn is a tragic figure. You pull for him, of course. He's a good guy, especially in how faithful he is to his wife (and isn't that a rarity in big-time stories like this?), but he's proud. His pride is his undoing. There are hints throughout that his time in Vietnam is playing into this. But, in the end, Llewelyn just isn't a Chigurh. When he has Chigurh at gunpoint in his hotel room (another scene not in the movie), he won't shoot him. Part of you thinks, "If you shot that guy, your troubles would be mostly over." But that's just it. Llewelyn isn't a Chigurh. He's not a killer.I'll just finally note that I am still chewing here on McCarthy's point. I think I get it then it seems to elude me. But I'll say this: it resonates with me. I feel that I understand it even if I can't articulate it. The closing dream is key: Bell's father going ahead with fire in a horn. It's an image that McCarthy really likes and he uses it throughout The Road. Oddly enough, it reminds me of the end of Brideshead Revisited, where Charles Ryder stands before the small flame in the Brideshead family chapel, then walks out smiling. (Heck, it reminds me of of Gandalf's secret-flame-guardianship-announcement on the bridge of Khazad-dum!)I somehow think that the key to understanding McCarthy is in that reappearing flame. It's awful small in his stories, but it is not extinguished. I suspect it makes McCarthy smile in his less morose moments. I'm starting to think I might know what it is.


Fantastic Novel!

by zorba
(5/5)

This novel grips you on page one and doesn't let go till the end. It's really a simple story but simple in the sense that the greatest art is the simplest art. McCarthy makes it look easy, but the novel is an extremely skilled journey through a myriad of considerations. As a writer, McCarthy is unexcelled among current practitioners. His dialog is so accurate and authentic that your head will spin. His ability to build tension and excitement is superb. All writers can learn from McCarthy. All readers can enjoy.


by hirenR
(4/5)


by hirenR
(4/5)


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