No Country For Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy, Alfred A Knopf, 2005, 309pp
This is McCarthy's latest book. I have only read All The Pretty Horses previously but decided to read this one now before finishing the trilogy, because I wanted to and because a respected reading friend read it, on hearing about it from me, and wrote me a long email about it. He found it a bleak and hopeless story.
Some drug runners have a big shoot up somewhere deep in the heart of Texas. A young man riding around in the country comes across the remains of the debacle and finds a case with a couple million dollars in it. The chase is on.
A local sheriff, an old man, gets involved because it happened in his jurisdiction. People die, innocent people are harmed and the sheriff, in confronting a new level of evil and lawlessness, is dismayed. Interspersed with the story are the sheriff's musings, which is where McCarthy gets to put in his philosophy.
So the outcome is tragic and it is pretty bleak, but I did not find it hopeless. It is definitely about evil getting the upper hand and is a message to people to be aware of that. I think that evil erupts at various times and places in the world. It is happening now and it takes a high confront of evil to fight back and overcome it. Not necessarily by starting wars with other countries, but by getting in ethics in your own country. The age of innocence which America has enjoyed for so long has ended. At the end of T H White's The Once and Future King, Arthur is old and broken, his kingdom and his dream for England are in tatters. But he grabs a young knight and tells him the dream and what needs to be done. He passes the torch to the young. I think that is the message of McCarthy's book. This is no country for old men.