No Country for Old Men
|No Country for Old Men|
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf|
|July 19, 2005|
|Media type||Print (Hardback and paperback)|
|Pages||320 pp (hardback edition)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-375-40677-8 (hardback edition)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 22|
|LC Class||PS3563.C337 N6 2005|
No Country for Old Men (2005) is a novel by U.S. author Cormac McCarthy. The story occurs in the vicinity of the United States–Mexico border, in 1980, and concerns an illegal drug deal gone awry in the Texas desert backcountry.
The title of the novel derives from the first line of the first stanza of the poem "Sailing to Byzantium" (1926), by W. B. Yeats. The book was adapted into the 2007 film of the same name, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
- Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, the main protagonist, a laconic World War II veteran who oversees the investigation and the trial of the murders even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to solve. His reminiscences serve as part of the book's narration.
- Anton Chigurh, the main antagonist, a psychopathic hitman. He is in his 30s, and has eyes as "blue as lapis ... Like wet stones." A man of dark and vaguely exotic complexion.
- Llewelyn Moss, a welder and Vietnam War veteran in his 30s, whose theft of the millions in cash left at the drug deal site serves as the beginning of the story.
- Carla Jean Moss, Llewelyn's young wife. She is 19 years old.
- Carson Wells, another hitman, formerly a lieutenant colonel from the Vietnam War, who is hired to retrieve the money from Chigurh.
While out hunting, Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck full of dead (and one nearly dead) men. A load of heroin is in one of the trucks and he finds two million dollars, which he takes home with him, nearby. He returns later that night to bring water to the one man that was still alive, is seen by the man whose money he took and sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law—in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell—can contain. As Moss tries to evade his pursuers, in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives, McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning's headlines.
Literary significance and criticism
The early critical reception of the novel was mixed. William J. Cobb, in a review published in the Houston Chronicle (July 15, 2005), characterizes McCarthy as "our greatest living writer" and describes the book as "a heated story that brands the reader's mind as if seared by a knife heated upon campfire flames." On the other hand, in the July 24, 2005, issue of The New York Times Book Review, the critic and fiction writer Walter Kirn suggests that the novel's plot is "sinister high hokum," but writes admiringly of the prose, describing the author as "a whiz with the joystick, a master-level gamer who changes screens and situations every few pages."
The novel has received a significant amount of critical attention, including Lynnea Chapman King, Rick Wallach and Jim Welsh's edited collection No Country for Old Men: From Novel to Film and Raymond Malewitz's "'Anything Can Be an Instrument': Misuse Value and Rugged Consumerism in Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men."
In contrast, literary critic Harold Bloom does not count himself among the admirers of No Country for Old Men, stating that it lacked the quality of McCarthy's best works, particularly Blood Meridian, and compared it to William Faulkner's A Fable, stating that the "apocalyptic moral judgments" made in No Country for Old Men represented "a sort of falling away on McCarthy’s part".
In 2007 Joel and Ethan Coen adapted the book into a film, also titled No Country for Old Men, which was met with critical acclaim and box office success. On January 27, 2008, the film won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. On February 24, 2008, it won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Joel and Ethan Coen), Best Adapted Screenplay (Joel and Ethan Coen), and Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh). It also won three BAFTA awards and two Golden Globes.
- Frye, S. (2006). "Yeats' 'Sailing to Byzantium' and McCarthy's No Country for Old Men: Art and Artifice in the New Novel". The Cormac McCarthy Society Journal 5.
- No Country for Old Men — Synopses & Reviews Powell's Books Retrieved on December 1, 2007.
- Texas Noir The New York Times Retrieved December 3, 2007.
- No Country for Old Men: From Novel to Film Powell's Books Retrieved on August 6, 2010.
- Malewitz, R. (2009)"'Anything Can Be an Instrument': Misuse Value and Rugged Consumerism in Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men." Contemporary Literature (Winter 2009) Retrieved on August 6, 2010.
- Harold Bloom on Blood Meridian  (June 15, 2009) Retrieved on March 3, 2010.
- McCarthy, Cormac (2005). No Country for Old Men. Random House. ISBN 0-375-70667-4.
- Cant, John (2008). Cormac McCarthy and the Myth of American Exceptionalism. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-98142-2.
- "Vintage: No Country for Old Men". Random House.
- Nichols, Mary P. (Fall 2008). "Revisiting Heroism and Community in Contemporary Westerns: No Country for Old Men and 3:10 to Yuma". Perspectives on Political Science 37 (4): 207–215. doi:10.3200/PPSC.37.4.207-216.