No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy

I’m not sure why I read this. The only other thing I’d read of McCarthy’s was The Road, which I read back when I thought I wanted to write a post apocalyptic novel (barf). For some reason I pulled this one off the shelf at half priced books and read a couple pages, then decided I had to buy it.

McCarthy has a strange writing style. He doesn’t use quotation marks. He often doesn’t use apostrophes for contractions. He often writes long sentences filled with many ‘and’s and no commas.

But the story was engaging, and the characters were real. The themes of growing old and the inevitability of death and the recklessness of youth were poignant and dark.

I’m sure most people have seen the film, I have.  But I felt the book really drew out a deeper feeling. It felt more visceral and real. The action was messy and consequential and the characters changed in reaction to it.

The story is simple. A man stumbles across the aftermath of a shootout, and finds a bag full of money. He takes it, and chaos begins as everyone involved tries to recover the cash.

But from a simple story, McCarthy is able to draw out powerful themes and create interesting, memorable characters, once again proving that you don’t need a crazy twist or surprise betrayal to have a good story. You just need well crafted characters who do things that make sense for reasons the reader can understand.  It’s amazing how far that will go.

I enjoyed this book, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. You’ll need to be accepting of an unconventional writing style, but if you can accept that, it’s definitely an enjoyable story. Recommended for crime, western, and action fans.

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