No Country for Old Men Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Overview

Though few critics find McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men to be the author’s best novel, most recognize his masterful writing skills. Though some critics do not like this novel, most cannot deny that No Country for Old Men is worthy of praise. Some find weaknesses in the story, but no one denied McCarthy’s genius.

In discussing the subject matter of No Country for Old Men, Roger D. Hodge, writing for Harper’s Magazine, sums up his assessment of the novel in this way: “Not all art will comfort us as we age, and McCarthy’s least of all. His fiction, like so much of our oldest literature, is tragic, and as such is held together by the very warp of the world.”

The tragedy of McCarthy’s story is also noted by Ruaridh Nicoll, a writer for the New Statesmen. Nicoll writes that No Country for Old Men is “the work of an author with exquisite sensibilities, whose journey towards that lawless border country has been charted in an increasingly clear and original voice.” Robert Edrick, a reviewer for the Spectator, also praises McCarthy’s writing skill. Edrick writes, “McCarthy's prose is never less than knowingly and superbly tailored, honed and polished to its very specific and powerful purpose.”

Chris Byrd, a critic for the publication America, finds fault with some of McCarthy’s story. There are questions left unanswered and a running monologue throughout the story that breaks too often from the action. But in the end, Byrd concludes, “Four-fifths of No Country for Old Men shows McCarthy as a master storyteller in command of his considerable gifts.”

The Wall Street Journal’s John Freeman has some comments on McCarthy’s minimalist leanings. McCarthy is known for using the fewest words possible to tell his story. Freeman begins his statement with a question and then gets right to the point....

(The entire section is 625 words.)

Michael Foster, Ed. Scott Locklear