BookBrowse Reviews No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

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No Country For Old Men

by Cormac McCarthy

No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy X
No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2005, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Jul 2006, 320 pages

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McCarthy fans will revel in the author's renderings of the raw landscapes. Novel

Forty years after his first novel, The Orchard Keeper, and seven years after he completed his Border Trilogy with Cities of the Plain, McCarthy returns with a modern-day western that hits the mark with some reviewers and leaves others cold - which, in fairness, has been the case with most of his books over the years.  The main thread of the novel follows young Vietnam vet Llewelyn Moss as he runs to evade the ex-Special Forces agent, Chigurh, employed by the cartel whose money he's appropriated; but it's also the story of aging lawman, Sheriff Bell (the moral opposite of Chigurh), who is coming to terms with the fact that there seems to be a new breed of bad guy on the lose these days, against which old style lawmen like himself cannot compete.  McCarthy allows Sheriff Bell to offer up his homespun thoughts on good and evil providing some much needed relief to the blood and gore (but in some reviewers eyes, these observations pall with repetition).  In addition to the three main characters there are a few other minor players but most of them seem to end up dead before too long.

Most reviewers agree that No Country for Old Men is a "page-turner".  They also agree that it's a simpler read than many of his previous books - but they disagree as to whether this is a good thing.  The Washington Post reviewer feels that "McCarthy's language is stripped lean and mean here. In places, dialogue carries large sections of the story. His ear for speech, dialect and wordplay remains noteworthy in American letters. His descriptive passages are lucid and visual;" but the New York Times reviewer describes it as hokum and Library Journal conclude that it's a "made-for-television melodrama".  Then again, Publishers Weekly conclude that it offers "a profound meditation on the battle between good and evil and the roles choice and chance plan in the shaping of a life", and Booklist gives it a starred review.

As always, you can decide for yourself by browsing a few pages at BookBrowse.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in August 2005, and has been updated for the August 2006 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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