No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
This book was a surprise and a revelation to me in its unexpected brilliance! It was a Saturday morning here in downtown Bristol UK and as was my want I was visiting the local library and browsing the books they were trying to sell...clear the shelves of the used paperbacks making way for the new...when perchance I happened upon No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. I offered the librarian one English pound and she gave me change...lots of change...”we just want rid of these old books she said” I returned home happy and content with my purchase, I had seen the movie and hoped the novel would be a good read....I was not disappointed.....

This book is a deep dark noir of greed, corruption and the evil that men do. Llewlyn Moss discovers a large amount of money, the result of a drug deal gone wrong, and he selfishly decides that whatever happens...whatever the consequences he will keep this money and make a better life for both him and his girlfriend Carla cause that’s what he believed he could do. “You live to be a hundred, he said, and there wont be another day like this one” Moss however had not reckoned with the intervention of one of the greatest hired assassins in the history of storytelling; Anton Chigurh played brilliantly in the Coen Brothers excellent movie by Javier Bardem

However underneath this story, the real underbelly, and the message that McCarthy is trying to instill into the reader is the moral degradation of the American west. Sheriff Ed Bell is the lawman charged with making sense of all the killings and he together with his uncle Ellis lament the increasing violence in the region and the disrespect of a younger generation against those who fought and died for American values. “These old people I talk to if you could of told em that there would be people on the streets of our Texas towns with green hair and bones in their noses speakin a language they couldn’t even understand, well, they just flat out wouldn’t of believed you.”

It is the southern Texas language of this wonderful book that really shines through and gives such authenticity to the writing. As Moss is trying to evade his would be killer he gives a ride to a hitchhiker and over lunch...”She ate. She looked around. Can I get some coffee ? she said You can get anything you want. You got money. She looked at him. I guess I aint sure what the point is, she said. The point is there aint no point. No, I mean what you said. About knowin where you are. He looked at her. After a while he said: It’s not about knowin where you are. It’s about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody’s. You don’t start over. That’s what it’s about. Ever step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it. You understand what I’m sayin? .....I think so...I know you don’t but let me try it one more time. You think when you wake up in the morning yesterday don’t count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? You life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I don’t know what all. Start over. And then one morning you wake up and look at the ceiling and guess who’s layin there?

There are some wonderful conversations that occurred between Bell and his Uncle Ellis that add such a poignant realism to the story. “What’s your biggest regret in life. The old man looked at him, gauging the question. I don’t know he said. I aint got all that many regrets. I could imagine lots of things you might think would make a man happier. I reckon being able to walk around might be one. You can make up your own list. You might even have one. I thing by the time you’re grown you’re as happy as you’re goin to be. You’ll have good times and bad times, but in the end you’ll be about as happy as you was before. Or as unhappy. I’ve knowed people that just never did get the hang of it”

If I was to tell you that I read this book in one sitting then you may come some way to understand both it’s importance and literary content...with just a little dark noir humour thrown in....

“We got another execution here Sherriff? No, I believe this one’s died of natural causes....Natural causes? Natural to the line of work he’s in.

“I’m like you. I aint sure we’ve seen these people before. Their kind. I don’t know what to do about em even. If you killed em all they’d have to build a annex on to hell”.....

A wonderful story by a literary genius that deserves to be read by all...and then read again!