Book Review: New Cormac

I just finished No Country for Old Men, the new novel by Cormac McCarthy, one of my favorite authors. It’s set in 1980 Texas, where a working man stumbles across a drug deal gone bad and makes off with a bunch of drug money, only to be relentlessly chased by a bad man named Chigurh and a Sheriff named Bell. By anyone else’s standards it’s a mighty good book, but it’s not up to the standards of McCarthy’s prior work.

I thought it was interesting, but not compelling. Yes, I caught a little of the literary and biblical references and I have read that there are a lot more. But if I wanted to do a puzzle, I’d do a puzzle. Many of his prior books contained passages in Spanish. It was fun to try to read and understand those, because they added to the authenticity of the book. Here, the puzzles just weren’t worth solving. I just read over them. I embrace the idea that the drug war is a bloody war fought by dark and anonymous forces. I liked Sheriff Bell and appreciated that he is the one of the last of a dwindling breed. But books are about the story, and the story just didn’t grab me.

Blood Meridian and the Trilogy are among the best books I’ve ever read. This one is not. It’s OK, worth reading. But not a literary force like the others.

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