No Country for Anyone

The few reviews I’d read of Cormac McCarthy’s new novel, including the lead in the New York Times Book Review, though laudatory, had little more to say than that No Country for Old Men would (will) make a terrific screenplay. So much for the art of book reviewing these days.

Another way to say it is that, as McCarthy’s style, in the course of nine novels, has become more accessible to the general reader, so his story line has strengthened; his theme grown plainer; and his moral universe come into clearer focus. A recent McCarthy book evinces a more direct than hitherto illumination of familiar material, even if the light still springs from within the text itself rather than being focused on it from without. Concurrently, the features of McCarthy’s world have notably altered themselves. McCarthy never was a nihilistic artist— but it was often easy to mistake him for one. The possibility of that seems now to be a thing of the past, even for a Times writer. “I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet,” Sheriff Ed Tom Bell muses. “It don’t move about from place to place and it don’t change from time to time. You can’t corrupt it anymore than you can salt salt. You can’t corrupt it because that’s what it is.” What all this has to do with the movies, I have yet to figure out.


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