Time to kick off a very cleverly combined double blog to which hours of reading and hopefully accurate interpreting have led up to. I am going to start on the second book I read because it’s fresh in my mind. That’s enough of an intro I’d say.
My first impressions of No Country For Old Men immediately after reading it is that it was well written, and a lot of thought must have gone into it, but despite this, some of it definitely went over my head. That’s probably just my tendency to miss things. More than once I wasn’t sure of who was speaking, or who was being spoken about, and throughout the entire book it wasn’t always clear who the main character even was. For all the realistic characters and commendably vivid descriptions, there were plenty of vague statements, at least to me, and undoubtedly one extremely unrealistically invulnerable antagonist. When you first read the book you would think Anton is the main character, but he is the opposite. When the perspective shifts for the first time to Moss, then surely he is the main character? Nope.
Even on the very first page I didn’t know what was going on until I read it over several times. This repeated countless times all throughout the book. Yes, the writing is descriptive, but it just isn’t always clear. There were lots of in depth references about specific weapons and materials most people wouldn’t have caught on to, and so I wonder how many more I myself didn’t catch. I’m even starting to think that the book gets worse the longer it goes on. It’s set up in the beginning to be a spectacular thriller but looses steam quickly, and once you realize Moss is doomed it all kind of falls apart. Keep in mind all he had to do to avoid all conflict in the entire story was not go back into the desert crime scene. Sure it wouldn’t have been as entertaining, but I can think of countless other directions the story could have taken. More accurately, the longer the story goes on the way it is written, the less good outcomes there can be. Nearing the end it didn’t even feel like the same cool, quick, action packed book as when I started on it. I believe the entire focus fell from “A highly skilled man with no obligations is on the run with $2.4M and some expensive firearms” to “A bunch of old reminiscing Texan cops can’t quite catch up to a annoyingly bulletproof and situationally faultless, morally deprived murderer with all the time in the world and no personality to make everyone else suffer, including the reader.”, and that’s where the book shows its true colors. I’m not quite sure when the book stopped getting entertaining to me. I think it faded off slowly and I didn’t realize until it was too late, much like the futures of any decent character in the book.
(edited) I wasn’t initially planning to insert media here, but I have pity on those who end up reading a whole lot of something they might not want to, although I don’t understand how anyone could not want to read my work! Here, have a cool, completely unrelated picture.
No Country For Old Men ended up sort of disappointing to me, and I guess you can say it was the exact opposite of the previous book I read – The Drop.
NCFOM Started off great, despite the uncolloquial high precision of the writing, but ended up slowing down and becoming a sour revelation, straying from the action ending in an unneeded and unwanted commentary on character and regret. In an opposite fashion, The Drop started off slow and not very entertaining, just steadily building backstory for emphasis, and then exploded into an ending I never would have predicted.
Out of the two I’d say NCFOM still takes the cake for having more relatable and lifelike characters you could see yourself around, unless that is you’re some random scumbag from Boston. Pretty much everyone in The Drop was revealed right off the bat to possess deeply troubling character flaws, save for the protagonist Bob, who seemed good natured. This is the exact opposite of NCFOM in where you had hoards of criminals outnumbering a select few good willed people comprised of law enforcement and civilians. In The Drop the police weren’t even half decent role models, shamelessly throwing away morality at any chance to do so, where as in NCFOM they were questioning their own character traits and talking about what they could have done better.
Back to Bob, The Drop had a very clear main character, where NCFOM swung around several perspectives. This isn’t in particular a bad technique when writing a novel, but carried out to the extent it was in the book, often switching views mid chapter, things got confusing. Did I mention there are no quotes to separate dialogue from narration in the entire book?
Those are differences and faults in writing in these two stories that stand out to me off the top of my head. Now is as good a time as any to actually answer the questions in the prompt. Both books I grabbed off the shelf in the public library hastily because they looked entertaining and like they had some quality writing within. I didn’t plan on taking lots of time to find the perfect book, and its not like I had tons of time to do so either. I selected what I thought were well written novels. I don’t think my assumptions were wrong, but the stories were definitely not at all what I had expected.
In The Drop I immediately and almost exclusively empathized with Bob, as the author very well may have intended. All the other main characters, save for maybe Bob’s cousin at times, I didn’t really care much about. Some of them I even wanted to see get what was coming to them for the undue havoc they wreaked on the narrative. It’s only fair.
Once again we see the two stories making themselves parallel to each other in a suspiciously regular way. In No Country For Old Men, most of the characters were average law abiding folk who wanted more peace and less destruction upon their world. The exception of course were members of the drug gangs and the vigilante hit men who circled them like vultures. I empathized for Moss start to finish, viewing him as more of a main character than Sheriff Bell. He brought a lot more to the story without a doubt. In the very beginning of the story I was even rooting for Anton to get away from the police. I guess that was the George Carlin in me, being entertained by civil situations spiraling out of control. My unbothered view of such a killer changed when he interfered with Moss’s success. They both wanted to triumph, and only one of them would come out on top. The story could have been made entertaining in my opinion had the two worked together, but this sadly was not the case. It would be interesting to see something like that play out, but for now all we have of the story is what was written.
Neither of the books were that bad, and were quite entertaining at times, but all in all they are far from perfect. I wouldn’t recommend either of them to anyone who doesn’t like to think about gritty depictions of crime. The Drop’s slow start was made up for in the end, but it ended very fast and almost out of nowhere. You honestly aren’t missing much if you don’t read it. As for No Country For Old Men, The beginning was excellent, and could have gone in almost any direction, which was the fun of it, but as the story became what it became and sorrowfully receded into a four-dimensional meta analysis of lost opportunity, my overall impression of the work was not without damage. I’d say its worth reading as you may like the ending’s chosen path more than I did, and because cohesively it is still quite well written with a level of insight exceeding many.
In the end it’s up to you, but if you could make it through 1300+ words from me, you could easily stomach one of these books.
(edit 2) I feel bad about this wall of text so here, have a soothing background song to complement your further reading.