No Country for Old Men

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Type: Fiction, novel

Published: 2005

I read it: January 2008

no country

As some of the actors in the film adaptation have tried to articulate in interviews, the genre of the “Western” is ill-named for modern storytelling. “Western” conjures up cowboys and Indians, and No Country for Old Men is “Western” in that there are outlaws and sheriffs, and it takes place in Texas and Mexico, but that’s about it.

This book is about three characters, and what quality characters they are. There’s Llewellyn Moss, the everyman who picks up a bag of money at the site of a drug deal gone haywire; Ed Tom (Bell) is the aging lawman who follows the case; Anton Chigurh is the elusive “ultimate badass” who is on the hunt for the missing money.

Cormac McCarthy is an expert storyteller, and although his style can take some getting used to (minimal punctuation, few dialogue tags) the reader flies through the pages as the suspense builds in a slow burn. Between sections of narrative we get first-person accounts from Bell about his own backstory as well as his thoughts on how the events taking place could possibly come to be. It’s powerful stuff, and it’s exciting knowing that I’ll re-read the book someday and probably enjoy it just as much as the first time through.

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