Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am going to buck the trend of four and five star reviews here and give it a one. Another reviewer said of this book that it made her sorry she learned to read, and I take the point, but for me this book is like the anti-reading. It sucked the life out of me, it sucked me dry, and took a pleasurable escapist pastime like reading and made it dirty and violent and negative. This is the book that made me watch more TV.
I read this for a book club and the book is dripping with violence. The Road was a great book because it so vividly portrayed its post-apocalyptic world but this book doesn’t have that. It has dialogue and violence, and not really much else. The violence would turn your stomach if you processed every word of it. I read every word of the book, but I didn’t process every word. There was too much.
After the barrage of violence we meet the Sheriff, part of the old men, old school mentality who doesn’t understand how the South of yesterday has become people with green hair and bones through their noses walking down the street. He’s trying to solve the crime, but which crime? I suppose the missing money, or is it the murders, or is it the disappearing guns? This is intertwined with killers talking with their victims at length about philosophy before shooting them in the head. It’s just not anything I need in my life. I suppose if I were younger the violence would bother me less, but the writing is good and has a level of sophistication that I don’t think my younger self would have been able to appreciate, so I’m left wondering who it’s for. Who are all the five star reviewers?
I will agree the book is written well and the author presents it in a uniquely stylized way which is always a plus when reading. But if you can’t get past the bad people, does anyone in this book have a conscience?, and the violence, then what’s the point? The book takes you down, and mires you so deeply in the muck you can’t see your way out. In the end, as the book says:
“There wouldn’t be no point to it. There ain’t no point to it. Not to any of it.”

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