Saturday, August 22, 2009

This ain't your daddy's western

I haven't ever read a western novel before but I can see one a mile away if you hand me the text. What makes No Country For Old Men so excellent is that it's not your typical western. Hell, it's not even categorized as one. There are no cowboys, no horse back riding through history. No 'how the west was won' theme. There are no stereotypes, no iconic characters and what not. If you were to read it, though - oh, you'd know what you had in your hands.

It's hidden around poetic paragraphs, sullen words. But it's there. You have yourself a western novel. You have the good guy and you have the bad guy, the desperado and the woman in distress. You have the horses and you have your shoot outs. Your rangers and your sheriffs and your outlaws.

But you won't find the novel in the western section at your local bookstore. Clearly, Llewelyn Moss, Anton Chigurh and Sheriff Bell don't have a place in the conventional western shelf. Their harrowing tale of a society changing before their very eyes deserves a place with the literary works of the greats. Because that's where author Cormac McCarthy belongs, amongst the greats.

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