Thursday, October 11, 2007

No Country for Old Men - post III

I intended posting this last night but what with one thing and another it got delayed – along with today’s lunchtime read. But better late than never.

Having never read any Cormac McCarthy before the thing that strikes you is the style and the authority of voice. The narrator for most of the book is an old sheriff who is also one of the victims of the drug war. He feels forced to retire rather than continue to face his impotence.

Once Wells and then Moss are killed the story heads in a direction that was not predictable at the outset and you end up understanding that this is more about the single incident of the $2.4m dollars being taken and is a wider comment on the state of society.

The final 100 odd pages of the book take you on a rollercoaster that throws your hopes and allegiances to the wind as the confident figure of Moss winds up being killed, his wife is shot for his stubborn refusal to hand over the money and there is even the suggestion that Chigurh himself might have suffered a fatal injury in a freak car crash.

All the time the sheriff Bell is always one if not more steps behind and watches with increasing depression the bodies stack up and the drugs keep crossing the border. In response he decides to quit and he struggles to come to terms with the fact that he has failed to keep away the criminals believing that were he a frightening enough prospect they would never have operated in his territory.

Things end with Bell retiring and seeking comfort in his wife after he has dutifully informed Moss’s father of his son’s death and tried to deal with the consequences of the killing spree.

Chigurh runs off with his head bleeding and his arm badly broken in two places leaving you wondering what becomes of the psychopath. But it is not really important if he lives or dies because there will be others to take his place. The power of the drugs business distorts the law, destroys society and is not the sort of crime that “old men” like sheriff Bell can deal with.

A review will come soonish…

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