Based on a recommendation by Sam De Brito over at All Men Are Liars, I picked up No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. I must admit to a certain amount of skepticism: I had always assumed McCarthy's work wouldn't appeal to me. Boy, was I wrong!
It took a bit to actually get into the book. I was turned off initially by the grammatical bludgeoning given the English language by the sheriff. I got over it quickly. McCarthy writes the way this man would have spoken and it grows on you. Then there was the lack of dialogue punctuation. I don't think there's a quotation mark to be found in the entire book! I found it a little off-putting at first, but failed to notice it after a few chapters.
The story is modern: drugs, money, guns and death. The setting is current day Texas/Mexico but somehow it has the flavour of an old-time western movie. I've never been to southern Texas (I've never been to Texas at all) but I could feel the heat, the dryness, the dust. McCarthy's writing transports you into his world and a vivid one it is. When Llewelyn Moss finds the remains of a drug deal gone bad and walks away with millions in cash, I found myself cheering for him, wanting him to get himself and his young wife out of their run-down trailer and into a decent life. Sheriff Bell does his best to do right by the people in his county but somehow you can taste the futility.
The book didn't end the way I was expecting. I anticipated a disappointing Hollywood ending with things coming together and ending happily ever after. I was happy to be wrong. Some books are well-written but end poorly. Not so with No Country for Old Men. Well-written, start to finish.
A colleague noticed me reading this novel and recommended another by Cormac McCarthy: All the Pretty Horses. I may just have to pick that up soon. Thank goodness for the library, or my reading would bankrupt me!