I don’t usually become obsessed about the books of a single author and read them one after the other. However, when I found Cormac McCarthy’s works, that’s exactly what I did. I got interested in him, like many people I’m sure, when I saw the Coen brother’s film adaptation of McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, the 2008 Academy Award winner for best picture, among others (I’m also a tremendous Coen brothers fan, but that’s another tale).
That story was so dark and interesting, I just had to know the writer behind it. I searched McCarthy out and found that before reading that book I should invest in a copy of his The Border Trilogy (Buy Now: Amazon.ca; Amazon.com), which includes three of his earlier novels, All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing and Cities of the Plain. That was a good recommendation because a lot of the scenery and characterizations that are portrayed in No Country, in both the book and film, come from those early novels.
If you like westerns, but with a realistic feel that gives you some historic background into where we are going today, I can’t recommend enough the The Border Trilogy. Yes, it’s dark and things don’t always work out for the best, but the telling is true and the characters feel real. His characterization of west Texas and northern Mexico, during the war (WWII) and post-war eras, particularly rang true for me. I have spent some time in that country and can attest to its harshness and beauty.
No Country for Old Men (Buy Now: Amazon.ca; Amazon.com) is a natural progression of the developing chaos that is portrayed in the Border Trilogy. The theme of us not being as in control of things as we would like to think we are rings all too true when you read today’s newspaper or watch the news on TV. What amazed me about the movie was how much the Coens followed McCarthy’s book, almost to the letter in the early going. Of course, the book explains a little more about the motivation and some of the statements that were made near the end of the story. If you had questions from the movie, the book might answer some, but it also may raise others–which is what a good novel is all about.
Which leads me to McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Road (Buy Now: Amazon.ca; Amazon.com). This book takes you right to the dark time that is subtly referenced in the background of the above novels. The holocaust has happened (nuclear war is hinted, but never really confirmed) and a father and his young son are pushing a cart across the burnt out landscape, looking for the “good guys” but witnessing some of the worst of human behavior. It is a moving story that keeps you turning the page and asking how you would respond to the horrors and situations. In a world where hope is all but crushed, the two are desperate to find some.
After finishing that book, one wonders whether the powers-that-be really understand the crises that are coming, whether they be economic, environmental, or the result of all when hope has indeed been crushed: war.
Now, I’m off to read a non-fiction book about retirement investing, hmmm.
So, what’s wrong with that?