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Author: Cormac Mccarthy
309 Pages
Publisher: Picador Fiction
ISBN: 9780330454278
Price: S$15.95 (w/o GST)





This is not an easy book to read because there are abrupt punctuations on every other page, shifts in points of view in every other chapter and jumps in plotlines in every other section. And at the end of the day, you may not even find the resolution you were hoping for. But we read that this is Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Cormac McCarthy’s most accessible work yet. While we can only imagine how mind-boggling the acclaimed 74-year-old author’s previous works are, this 2005 novel is definitely a page-turner. If you are the sort of reader who likes to challenge your intellectual powers, then this is the book for you.

McCarthy’s ninth novel tells the story is set in the earlier years of 1980s Texas, where a young Vietnam War veteran, Llewelyn Moss, chances upon several dead men, a load of heroin and a hefty amount of loot amounting 2.4 million dollars. He runs with the money, and much of the story sees him trying to escape an ex–Special Forces agent employed by a powerful cartel, and a psychopathic murderer with no sense of mercy whatsoever. There is also an old sheriff Bell, who is concerned about the state of things, that there is “no country for old men”.

There is much bleakness in the story about how moralities and ethics have shaped how we are leading our lives. The standoff between the traditional good and evil has been blurred and marred to an extent where things aren’t as simple as the good old days anymore. This desolation is characterized by the many chases which make up the bulk of the novel. Written mostly in somewhat awkwardly phrased dialogues, you can imagine the characters’ tense emotions while reading the book. It has already been adapted into a film directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, with a whopping eight Oscar nominations at the 80th Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay.

The one character which will grip your senses is Anton Chigurh, the psychotic killer who is almost too scary to picture in our minds. His devilishly violent actions are written stoutly with force and vigor by McCarthy, and it is chilling just to read how he finishes off his victims. Spanish actor Javier Bardem plays Chigurh in the film adaptation, and we hear he is a shoo-in for the Best Supporting Actor award.

The book isn’t all brutal and nasty. Moments of sentimentality and nostalgia are provided by the old sheriff’s italicized chapters lamenting on the past where things were simpler and idealistic. Besides providing breathers in this otherwise nerve-wrecking novel, these sections are gentle touches to a thoughtful story.

This novel may only be 300-odd pages, but the original prose written by McCarthy warrants repeated reading, which isn’t that bad a thing to immerse yourself in a story aptly reflecting the state of things now where there is “no country for old men”.


“He looked at Chigurh. He looked at the new day paling all about. Chigurh shot him through the forehead and then stood watching. Watching the capillaries break up in his eyes. The light receding. Watching his own image degrade in that squandered world. He shoved the pistol in his belt and looked back up the street once more. Then he picked up the bag and slung the Uzi over his shoulder and crossed the street and went limping on toward the hotel parking where he’d left his vehicle.


A gripping yet thoughtful read that will leave you impressed with the multiple perspectives presented in this seemingly simple tale about good and evil.

Review by John Li


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