Here, once again, is the Voice of Bruce, giving his inimitable review of Cormac McCarthy’s NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN:
“The story is set in a small town in Texas, so I guess we could call it a Western, but it’s not one that John Wayne would recognize. No one wears hats, so you can’t tell the good and bad guys apart. And everyone drives 4WD vehicles instead of riding horses, and they shoot at each other with machine guns instead of six-shooters. And all that violence--. John Wayne would be horrified.
“The plot centers on two main characters. The first is a young man who stumbles on a cache of drug money and decides to run, with the drug dealers in hot pursuit. The second is the local sheriff (a John Wayne type), who wants nothing but a peaceful life for his town and himself, but now he feels compelled to catch the druggies and rescue the misguided young man. It’s rather like the odds Gary Cooper faced in 'High Noon,' only the ending here is different.
“McCarthy contrasts the rather ordinary lives of these two characters with the violent world that they encounter with the druggies. He uses the contrast to illustrate his theme that America has become so violent that we folks of the older generation, who are traditionally in charge of maintaining law and order, can no longer fight successfully against the tide of crime and lawlessness. Thus the title of the book.
“The book’s violence, while disturbing, is a necessary part of the story. Fortunately, while reading (unlike while viewing a film) you the reader can skip over the worst of these bits and enjoy an entertaining story. So even though the film won Best Picture, I recommend you read the book instead.”
- Bruce Balas, 3/12/2008