No Country For Old Men – Book Review

I think if you were Satan and you were settin around tryin to think up somethin that would just bring the human race to its knees what you would probably come up with is narcotics. Maybe he did. I told that to somebody at breakfast the other mornin and they asked me if I believed in Satan. I said Well that aint the point. And they said I know but do you? I had to think about that. I guess as a boy I did. Come the middle years my belief I reckon had waned somewhat. Now Im startin to lean back the other way. He explains a lot of things that otherwise dont have no explanation. Or not to me they dont. -From No Country For Old Men, page 218-

After reading Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road in May, I knew I would read more of his novels. Like that novel, No Country For Old Men is filled with brutal violence and asks deep questions about the nature of evil, morality and the idea of fate vs. choosing our own path.

When Lewelyn Moss stumbles across a drug deal gone bad out in the desert and walks away with a briefcase filled with over two million dollars, he sets off a string of savage murders and places himself and his wife in harm’s way.  Ed Tom Bell, an old time sheriff on the brink of retirement, carries the novel with his dry sense of humor and musings on the philosophy of life and its moral decline. Chigurh (apparently pronounced ‘sugar’ … although I thought this character could better be described as ‘chigger’) seems to be the embodiment of evil – a super human monster who appears to have no respect for human life.

McCarthy takes the reader for a wild ride through the first half of the book. I found myself unable to put the novel down. The scenes are nail bitters, written like a screenplay. It is not surprising that the movie based on the book will be released in November 2007.

But then, McCarthy slows things down midway, giving the reader more to think about than who will be the next victim. Do our choices seal our fate in life? Are our lives merely determined by the flip of a coin? Or do we have the power to control our lives through the moral decisions we make? McCarthy doesn’t give the reader any easy answers, and perhaps that is because there are not any. In the end, we are left with the symbol of a fire being lit in the darkness – perhaps the suggestion that we may still shine our light on evil, and reveal it for what it is.


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    • Anonymous on July 21, 2007 at 16:55

    Do you think this book would qualify for any of the current challenges? I want so desperately to read it, but I’m falling a little behind. It sounds amazing.

    • Anonymous on July 21, 2007 at 16:59

    I guess I should have said would it qualify for any challenge other than the Southern Fiction challenge. I’m not in that one.

    • Anonymous on July 21, 2007 at 17:24

    I’m not sure which ones you’re doing. BUT, this would certainly be okay for Books to Movies (the movie comes out this fall). Also, if you’ve read McCarthy before you could use this as a Seconds Challenge. Or perhaps even Unread Authors.

    • Anonymous on August 9, 2007 at 14:18

    I read this a little over a month ago and it hit me pretty hard as well. I really liked what you wrote in your last paragraph. Even after a month, this book still leaves a sour taste in my mouth and I just don’t know how to swallow it. I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie–and hopefully soon I’ll dig into The Road.
    Oh ya, in my head Chigurh’s name was a little between Sugar and Chigger. Shiggur. 🙂 I just couldn’t think of him as a “Sugar” Ha!

    • Anonymous on August 9, 2007 at 16:32

    I’m looking forward to the movie as well, Trish. You should definitely read The Road which I found to be better than No Country for Old Men.

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