Two of the last three books that I have read "The Road" and "No Country for Old Men." And they are probably THE two best books I have read in the last twenty years.

The style is unique, but well planned. The text conversational complete with some phonetic spelling, regionalisms, and with a flow that it totally natural.

The text is virtually without apostrophes, and absolutely without quotation marks. Yet, only once in "No Country for Old Men" did I stumble in a long paragraph and have to read back and determine which was narrative and which dialogue.

Warning to new writers--don't try to imitate it. It probably seems easy because it reads so easily. I'm not sure even another experienced author could get away with it.

There is no flowery prose, yet Cormack McCarthy puts you "there." Or rather, he put me there. In a sense, "No Country for Old Men," is two books. The first 80% of the book is noir: a man who is hunting accidentally comes across a drug deal gone bad, including a massacre of those involved--and he walks away with four million dollars.

Not a good thing for an honest man to do. He finds himself tracked by a killer, a local sheriff, and someone who has been hired by the millionaire dealer to find the money.

That story ends about about page 225 of 308. The rest of the story is about the Sheriff, who in his mind, has seen the decline of the nation that seemed to have started a short time after World War II, yet the part is compelling and you feel that it is going to go back to where the first story ended--and in fact includes some of the first story.

Cromac McCarthy, I don't believe, is for everyone. As a matter of fact, the one of my two sons, who probably reads a book every three days did not like "The Road," but because of the subject matter, he will probably like NCfOM. He's into action adventure.

His complaint, though, and I know others will have the same complaint, that the style is too "simple."

This is a pretty rambling post, but I go back to the very beginning of this post too conclude: these were *the* two best books I have read in the last twenty years, and certainly the best writer I have discovered since--well, it's been a long time. Most modern books bounce along, pad along, and often lead nowhere, even when the ending "seems" satisfactory.

Jack

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Comment by Barbara DeShong on August 15, 2009 at 7:46am
"Blood Meridian" is in my top three books ever. And "All the Pretty Horses," and "The Crossing" take me away. Of course, I'm a fool for anything Texas. My one complaint (and to do so is ridiculous) is that one of those two opens with a blizzard in San Antonio. I grew up in South Texas. Everything else in the books coulda happened. But no really bad blizzard at the Alamo.

I look forward doing a guest blog.
Barbara DeShong
mysteryshrink.com
Too Rich and Too Thin, Not an Autobiography, Echelon Press
Comment by George Cronin on June 17, 2009 at 12:47am
Cormac McCarthy is the greatest prose stylist in American literature. Compare the rococco style of Blood Meridian (which Harold Bloom cites as the best American novel) to the simpler style of his later, more popular books. Yes, read the Orchard Keeper , but don't forget Outer Dark and Child of God. In fact read all his work, or at least as much of the darkness and grotesquery as you can handle.
Comment by crimogenic on December 9, 2008 at 7:39am
I absolutely love The Road. It's one of my favorite books of all times. A classic. I haven't read No Country for Old Men, but I saw the movie and I felt cheated at the end.
Comment by I. J. Parker on October 30, 2008 at 3:46am
Not terribly concerned about "innovations" to standard format. But I tried THE ROAD and detested it to the point that I never made it to the great ending.
Comment by Jeffrey Kinghorn on June 4, 2008 at 10:57am
See, also, Kent Haruf, PLAINSONG and EVENTIDE. Absolutely beautiful. As spare as Cormac McCarthy. Also without quotation marks.
Comment by Ange on June 3, 2008 at 8:22pm
Only James Joyce got away with writing sans quotations, those annoying flies littering our pages. (My quote, not his) Makes for smoother reading. Cormac is all muscle. He will wake you up no matter how many brain cells your TV may have melted away over the years. Thanks for bringing up this discussion, I hope more readers open up to him as a result of this discussion.
Comment by Timothy C. Phillips on June 3, 2008 at 8:00pm
Oh, BTW, I guess that I should have noted that I am a Southerner. Hence the Southern bent of the above rant. Deep South in my case. NE Albama.
Comment by Timothy C. Phillips on June 3, 2008 at 7:58pm
"The Orchard Keeper" is a must read by McCarthy, Jack. It's a book you'll never forget, in my opinion...having said that, it's about the sea change that the South underwent after the Great Depression, from an agrarian, polite society, wed to the land, to the soulless landscape dominated by corporations and misguided public works that it is today...ah my Freudian slip is showing....nevertheless, I think you'll dig it, too. CM is the thinking man's...CM, I guess.
Comment by Jeffrey Kinghorn on October 1, 2007 at 3:04am
Jack, thanks for your comments to me back in August about Dennis Lehane and Jerimiah Healey. Haven't ventured into Lehane territory. I tried the Mystic River one, but just can't do stories that have any kind of violence against children. And is Healey still writing a detective series?
Comment by JackBludis on August 1, 2007 at 6:48am
I received an e-mail from someone else today who may have made me a believer ... I may give *Blood Meridian* a shot. Also, I found this on line, or somebody sent it to me. It's the trailer for the movie *No Country for Old Men.* It looks just like the book I read.

http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=VideoBC&bcpid=987390441&bclid=1021004993&bctid=987200355

Jack

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