There are moments when you don’t want the train to stop so you can carry on reading about the exploits of John Grady Cole. By now you have to take the view – not that I’m in a position to know – that either Texan teenagers are some of the widest around or that perhaps it’s best to put the age of the main character to the back of your mind.
The reason is that not only does he show a maturity in his ability to converse with wealthy ranch owners, horse hands and his older fellow traveller Lacey Rawlins but he also shows a calmness in a prison situation that most of us would lose out minds trying to deal with.
In No Country for Old Men by the stage you get to just past the middle of the book you think you have a rough idea of how it might end. McCarthy has this knack, which is repeated here slightly later in the narrative, of taking the reader down a false trail. One moment you think that Rawlins and Grady are okay and then the next they are facing a tough prison where because they refuse to pay for their escape they are beaten.
When they get the chance to come to an agreement with the prisoner who runs the place Grady stands firm and the result is that Rawlins is cut with a knife and almost killed and taken off the site to a hospital. Grady is left to fend for himself but again this calm and resourceful teenager pays for a knife and then kills his would be assassin.
He then gets paid out of jail by the rich ranch owners relative and then bids farewell to Rawlins who heads home and hitches and walks back to the ranch. All of this is done by this superman of a teenager who is driven on not just by love of the ranch owners daughter but some sense of justice. Although it might be hard to believe it is nonetheless a cracking read.