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.


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Comment by Harry Shannon on August 1, 2007 at 2:02am
McCarthy is difficult to read at times, but Blood Meridian won me over completely a few years ago. It is one of the finest horror novels of the 20th century. Also agree that "No Country for old Men" and "The Road" are also classics.
Comment by JackBludis on July 23, 2007 at 6:28am
I was about to give my copy to a friend and I changed my mind. It is definitely a keeper. Yes, his sentences are stripped to the bare bone, but full of meaning and image.
Comment by Camilla Trinchieri on July 23, 2007 at 2:17am
THE ROAD is an unforgettable book which I will reread every time I find myself falling in love with my sentences. His are elemental, stripped to the bare bone of meaning.
Comment by Sunflowercat on June 20, 2007 at 10:49am
To my complete and utter consternation, I missed McCarthy on Oprah, and as he's reclusive I feel like I'm in the Bradbury story about life on Venus where the sun shines once every seven years -- and the little kid misses it, locked up by her classmates. What a missed opportunity.

NCFOM was one of the best books I read last summer. I keep finding reasons to quote my favorite line from it, as one of the main characters finds himself seen by the drug dealers: "There is no description of a fool that you fail to satisfy."

I just started The Road and it's already excellent.

I started reading McCarthy just out of college when I discovered the Border Trilogy, and I've been a solid fan ever since. Blood Meridian is next on my list as well, after The Road.
Comment by JackBludis on May 28, 2007 at 1:24pm
John thanks for the tip on Blood Meridian, I'll look into it.
Have your read "No Country for Old Men?"
Comment by JackBludis on May 28, 2007 at 9:05am
I liked the ending of "The Road" far better than the ending of "No Country for Old Men." But as someone said, he seemed to have tacked on the ending of "The Road."

I agree entirely about that sentence for sentence business.

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