McCarthy is always brilliant. I read "No Country" when it was first published, and I've listened to the audio version three (or has it been it four?) times. I've rarely recommended an audio book instead of the "real" version, but I'll do just that in this case for one very good reason: I can't imagine a better reader than Tom Stechschulte (if only it were possible to commission Mr.Stechschulte to read "Suttree," which is my favorite McCarthy novel).
This is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. It is riveting, it is complete, it is complex, it demands much from the reader; it requires re-reading of some sections.
Every single character is "sympathetic." You like them all. You want each of them to achieve their goals.. the good guys and the bad guys. As the murder victims added up, I felt so sad, so sorry for them. The characters are so strong that I will never forget them.
Throughout the book, I kept asking myself "whose story is this?" It comes clear late in the book. It is in parts 7 and 8 that the whole thing begins to stick together.
Still, the end was a little disappointing. There is at least one "missing person," one unexplained death, and it is so much meditation on very "heavy" subjects.
I think I wish McCarthy had put some of that spiritual searching earlier in the book; following so much action, it's a little bottom heavy with stream-of-consciousness, moralizing. The questions are all apt to the story; they provoke deep thought.
There is very little but some politicizing ... some grandstanding by the author, but it was light and it did not feel like a "big statement."
At any rate it is among my all time favorites, right up there with the Classics, the Russians and the Moderns. It is atypical of these post-modern times. The book is old- fashioned in that it tells a real story. It is new-fashioned in that it has a strange approach to dialect -- including phonetic punctuation. It does become comfortable quickly. There are point of view switches that are not always clear until well into each new section's opening paragraphs. Sometimes you don't know whose story we are in, and then you do know because each character is so distinguishable.
In his past novels, Cormac McCarthy was brilliant at weaving philosphy into a gripping plot line. Not so this time. The story is gripping but the action of the story ends with an hour left to the book and then we have a sheriff's musings on his failure in life. It's as if McCarthy didn't know quite how to end the book so he let Sheriff Bell drone on until he had nothing left to say. The ending left me feeling cheated. I've read five other of McCarthy's books and have loved every one of them but I can't say that I would recommend this one.
I hated "The Road." But everyone is all "Cormac McCarthy is the greatest American writer!" and maybe I just wasn't giving him a fair chance. So I gave him another. I haven't seen the movie, but I decided to listen to "No Country for Old Men" since it was relatively short.
McCarthy could grow on me. This book didn't have all the meandering and forced prose of "The Road"; indeed, it was sparse, clear writing, not at all what I was expecting. The story is a fairly simple one: a Texas good ol' boy out hunting comes across a drug deal gone bad, and decides to make off with the money. The rest of the story follows from that decision and from several other decisions he makes along the way. This is the "literary" angle that hooked me, the fact that every action each character took had definite and clear consequences, even if they weren't immediate. Moral consequences, albeit sometimes according to the alien morality of people like Anton Chigurh, the scary, implacable hit-man who stalks through every page of the book.
If you're at all familiar with McCarthy, you know not to expect rosy outcomes. There's a lot of death and the ending is bleak. I felt the tension went completely slack in the last couple of chapters, and we were left with just an old man grumbling about past mistakes and the state of the world. Also, Chigurh, indubitably the star of the book, was well-drawn but in very sketchy strokes. He's a grayscale figure who's there to scare you and deliver the coup de grace; he's an archetype, but there's really not that much there to him.
That aside, it's a great book if you like tight, sparse, masculine Westerns (which is pretty much what "No Country for Old Men" is, a noir Western set in the present). After being thoroughly unimpressed with the first book I read by Cormac McCarthy, the second one changed my opinion, and I'm now willing to read something else by him.
If you like Chinatown, Tarantino movies and James Ellroy, this is one for you. A crime story with dark overtones, extremely well narrated by Tom Stechschulte. The flow is good, the characters (good and bad) interesting, and the tension high. Perhaps a small note of doubt is sown by the fact that some of the main characters do incredibly dumb things, but McCarthy fashioned the book this way, so who am I to argue? Eventually it kinda fizzles out though.
Really enjoyed this one. Couldn't put it down, in fact. My favorite reads are thrillers but I do have a taste for good writing and I try to familiarize myself with those folks deemed "great writers".
I had read "All the pretty horses" and, frankly, missed the point. "No Country.." offered McCarthy's great style with a plot line that kept me riveted.
Be warned, this is not a conventional thriller and you will not find a neatly packaged ending. If you'd like to try a thriller with a bit more literary content, this is a great choice.
Super narrator, as well!
I tend not to read thrillers or the darker, more violent mystery novels-- I knew that this novel might be over the line for me. Yup. Well written. Just not to my taste. But I love Stechschulte! He is an awesome performer.
I primarily listen to audio books while running, I find music boring on long runs. I enjoy action, mystery, and history. A good mystery can make a 12 mile run fly. No Country For Old Men got off to a good start but it eventually ground to close with Sheriff Bell examining his life. If you are of the mind to think deeply about the serious issues of life you confront as you grow older this is the book for you. If you want top notch action as a distraction from those serious issues listen to something else.
This book has violence, insight, humor, love, respect, honor and depth beyond the story line. Narrator: Tom Stechschulte is excellent. He makes the characters come to life.
I could not put it down. This book will make you rethink some of your own values and appreciate your life for what it is. At least it did for me. The "country" wisdom is put in a take it or leave it fashion that does not seem forced on you but lets you draw your own conclusion. Very enjoyable listen.
This book wasn't bad until the second half of the book and then it just becomes a man's philosphizing about how the world has gone to hell and how this country is guilty of sin/war. The plot disappears and we get a rambling narrative about life according to the author, the second half of this book is really bad. Save your money stay away from this book. The serial killer antagonist becomes a honest broker as the angel of death, yuk.