Friday, November 09, 2007

No Country for Old Men

Between Alpine and Marfa, Texas. Photo by davidteter.

So two of my favorite directors have made a movie based on a novel by one of my favorite authors that's set in one of my favorite places: the Coen brothers, Cormac McCarthy, West Texas. Awesome.

I read "No Country for Old Men," the novel, shortly after it was published last winter. I'm rarely frightened by books while I'm reading them, but this one kept me on an emotional edge the entire time I read it, and several scenes stood out as the most suspenseful I've ever read. I am frequently frightened by movies that intend to be scary, so, given the material it's based on, I expect this one to be exceptionally terrifying.

Jess and I spent a week in west Texas in early December of 2005, a trip to Big Bend right before we moved back north. In an area the size of the entire state of New Hampshire, bewilderingly vast plains surround just five small towns like living history museums of the old west: Marathon, Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis, Sanderson. Between them, the jagged teeth of ancient mountain ranges stab the long horizons.

Cormac McCarthy is probably the best nature writer living today: his descriptions of these landscapes are almost as beautiful as the real thing. McCarthy also gets compared to Melville a lot, and like Melville, he doesn't romanticize wild nature: more often than not, the protagonists in McCarthy's novels find themselves nakedly visible and vulnerable in the open plains while the evil men hunt them down. This is a wilderness too vast to credit any significance to any individual life or death. I love it.

Marfa Prada. Photo by eggyplants.


widgery said...

You going to The Unforeseen at Space Thursday? Doc on suburbanization of Texas.

C Neal said...

I will be there... as a matter of fact, I'm supposed to speak afterwards on behalf of GrowSmart. If you're going, you should introduce yourself so that I can meet another of my blog readers in person.