Saturday, January 3, 2009

No Country For Old Men

One nice thing about traveling is that I have much more time to read. It's a habit I need to get more into, because it has always brought me happiness and inspiration. 

Anyhow, I finished a book by one of my favorite authors Cormac McCarthy, and I highly recommend it. I actually had a wonderful chat about him with a house guest/friend recently. He pointed out that Cormac very rarely gives any physical description of his characters or surroundings. His stories instead are fleshed out through dialogue and basic narration. The reader very rarely gets access to the inner workings of his characters thoughts or feelings. What this does is universalizes his stories. The concepts we relate to as a reader aren't ones of race, culture, or geographic proximity. Instead we relate to the characters through fundamentally human similarities. Through their suffering, through their loneliness, through their desire, and as my friend pointed out, through starvation. 

One thing that was interesting to me was that as I read No Country For Old Men I couldn't help but picture the film preview in my head. Even though I have not seen the film yet, I couldn't help but put Javier Bardem in Chigurh's shoes. I love film, and I love literature. But I think the two are completely different mediums of expression. Apples and oranges. And if you ever need an example consider Cormac's books to the filmic adaptations. Completely different. 

Bottom line: Great book. Highly recommend it. 


Anonymous said...

You and your house guest are crazy. He is subtle descriptive genius. Who uses the wainscoting anymore? I think he is very descriptive but more with a rapier's skill and less like a lecture for the blind.

Blue Sky said...

Very true. Not many authors use wainscoting anymore, or transom for that matter.

One thing we did touch upon in our conversation, which you've echoed, is that he uses dabbles out description with fine a haired brush. He'll dole out just enough to let you know what is going on, yet hides the rest to reveal later. His artful use of description allows him to control the pace of the story.

Great comment.