July 17, 2009

Book Review: "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy

Title: No Country for Old Men
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Published: July 2005
Pages: 309
Genre: Crime/Thriller
ISBN: 0-375-40677-8

When I first saw the movie trailers for No Country, I saw a movie with some real potential to entertain. I'd eventually have those suspicions confirmed after renting the DVD. Before then, however, I sampled some of McCarthy's books, The Orchard Keeper. I was not impressed. The story bored me. But, I held out hopes that it was an aberration. I still very much wanted to read No Country, and I can say it was well worth the wait.

Llewelyn Moss is a welder living in Texas and he's just stumbled into a jackpot. While hunting antelope in God's country, he comes across the bloody aftermath of a drug deal gone bad. And, there's over two million in cash just screaming at him to take it and run. He does, and chides himself every second of the way for doing it.

He might have gotten away with it to if it wasn't for his better nature telling him to take some water out to a dying Mexican thug. By the time he gets there though, the guy's dead and more cronies are waiting to hunt Moss down. They're the least of his worries. Moss has the "ultimate badass" on his tail--goes by the name of Anton "Don't Call Me Sugar" Chigurgh.

Now, Moss and his lady are on the run. With "Sugar" chasing them, and the grizzled Sheriff Bell trying to keep things from getting any more bloody and gut-turning than what's already come to pass.

This story is rough, matter-of-fact, and will not end well for anyone involved. McCarthy may have some previous masterpieces to his credit, I can't say for sure, but this book I do know is officially one of my all-time favorites. He's got a writing style that resembles more of a transcript to a conversation over beers than a literary novel. It's a little refreshing in that regard, but--god damn!--would it kill the guy to use some quotation marks once in a while with his dialogue. I figure McCarthy is either allergice to 'em, or he's saving them up to donate to the Red Cross.

The movie won an Oscar. Did the book win anything? It should have.

If you're the type that likes a gritty, bloody crime thriller, you probably already have your favorites. If this book has passed you by, I say you've missed out. Read it. Or, at least rent the movie.

1 comment:

  1. The quotation marks thing bothered me as well, but you're right-great book.