Book: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Date Read: March 9, 2018 to April 1, 2018
Rating: 4 (of 5) stars
Anyone who does not believe that there is a sort of beauty in destruction and decay has clearly never read anything by Cormac McCarthy. This is the third of his books that I have read, and I do intend to read more. There is an internal struggle every time I go to my shelf to choose my next book, and my eyes fall upon the McCarthy section. I had finished reading “The Road” shortly before I heard some terrible news– my favorite bookstore, Borders Books, was going out of business. After I recovered from the shock, there was a more pleasant realization: closing stores means discount books. Once prices reached 80-90% off, I bought every McCarthy book the store still had available (among many others). As a result, I have relatively large collection from this author that hangs out on my “to read” list. I want to read them so badly, but I know they will devastate me.
As expected, No Country for Old Men was no exception to this. It was beautiful, and it was horrifying. While it could be said that the first bit of the book moves a little slowly, I love how the setting is built up slowly, bit by bit. This then eventually leads into a whirlwind of gruesome activity. Throughout the book, there are moments of unexpected calm, a short but compelling description of innocuous detail that is quickly disrupted by gunfire. My eyes moved easily over the words, devouring them, but my mind often forced me to close the book even at moments I was dying to know where the next turn would lead.
I very much enjoyed the dynamic between Bell and Chigurh. Although there is no direct interaction between them, they are essential to the existence of the other character. I try not to put too much time into perceived symbolism in my reading– while I feel that there is sometimes some obvious link, I think much of what we discover in literature is what we want to find there. Bell is interesting in the obligation that he feels to his community. Even when he realizes how much of the situation is outside of his control, he continues to search for meaning. He is not willing to accept that the unfolding events are just simply events, with no meaning beyond their immediate consequences. I have seen Chigurh compared to Death, but I think this is too simple. While he presents his actions as the inevitable, he is also self-preserving and elusive. He could be fate, or he could be random chance. Or perhaps he is neither, and both of these possibilities are just what we choose them to be.
Boris’s thoughts: “This all seems too complicated for me. Can you just pick up the book, or put the book down? 2 paws.”