Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old MenNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While out shooting antelope, Llewellyn Moss stumbles upon a crime scene: three trucks, all shot up, and numerous bodies. Upon further inspection, Moss finds a substantial quantity of heroin and a briefcase containing over two million dollars. Moss takes the money and quickly ends up a wanted man. Can Moss survive long enough to enjoy the money?

This was my first McCarthy book and probably won't be the last. I devoured it in a single sitting. The clipped style really drove the story forward, reminding me of Jim Thompson at times and Flannery O'Connor at others. The tension grows as Moss and Chigurh head toward the climax. Sheriff Bell does his best to piece things together and keep more people from dying. A recurring theme through the novel is choices, how one's choices make them who they are.

I wanted to give this five stars but I couldn't for two reasons. The primary reason: What was with the lack of quotation marks and apostrophes? Was McCarthy's keyboard defective? A little dialogue attribution would have been nice, particularly in the later chapters with Moss talking to other characters. The other gripe is that the last fifty or sixty pages didn't live up to the promise of the rest of the book. I don't want to spoil things but a pretty important character dies like a chump and does it off screen, making the previous 200+ pages seem like a bit of a waste.

All in all, No Country for Old Men was a good read, especially for those who like a good pulpy crime story. It's easily worth an evening of your time.

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