Wednesday, August 06, 2008

the end of a dry spell

We finally saw No Country for Old Men, and it wasn't anywhere near as traumatic to watch as I thought it would be. Of course, our television is really small, so the gore wasn't BIG, and I avoided looking very closely at the very last scene, which TLP had warned me about. The acting was mostly very good, with the exception of Woody Harrelson as Carson Wells. He was awful. Tommy Lee Jones made a perfect sheriff, or course, Josh Brolin was a convincing Llewelyn, and Kelly MacDonald sounded exactly the way I'd heard Llewelyn's young wife, Carla Jean, in my head. Of course, it was Javier Bardem who stole the show as the scary Anton Chigurh. Some of the dialog was taken directly from the book, and the only significant section that was left out was Llewelyn's encounter with a teenaged hitchhiker, who he naively thinks he can help by getting her off the road and giving her enough money to find a safer ride. Llewelyn's conversations with this young lady shed more light on his personality, and portray him as someone who has thought a lot about life and confirms that he is too good a person to have any understanding of what he's up against.

Three Junes, by Julia Glass, has been hanging around on my bookshelves for quite some time. Yes, that's shelves, plural, since it's been around for at least two rearrangements. Glass won the 2002 National Book Award for this novel, and surprise-surprise, I loved it. The Junes in the title refer to three different months, different times in the life of the McCleod family, but it's not exactly chronological--there are many flashbacks woven throughout the book, which is perfectly paced. The father is Paul McCleod, who hails from a well-heeled Scottish family, and he runs the newspaper his father founded. His wife, Maureen, breeds and trains collies, and together, they have three sons: Fenno, followed by the twins Dennis and David.

The book opens as Paul is taking a guided tour of the Greek Islands after he has been widowed, which gives him ample time to reflect on his past life and how he feels about his family. Paul will eventually decide to become a British expatriate living on Naxos, leaving much of his former life behind. We see his family through his eyes first, with his perceptions, feelings, and frustrations. After that, the novel follows Fenno, the eldest son who seems to be the most distant one, even before he crosses The Great Pond to live in New York City. Fenno normally returns to Scotland for Christmas, but of course he makes a couple more trips because of his mother's death, and later, for his father's. During these visits, his interaction with his brothers and their wives provide still more history, and so the family portrait is viewed from many angles.

I'm not doing a good job of explaining why this book is so interesting. It's not an action-adventure book, but it is a page turner, nonetheless. It's about the variety of relationships people form throughout their lives, and I found the characters very interesting. The novel ends with a beautiful coincidence that the concerned characters may never even know about. At the end, I got the feeling of a circle being completed.

A very good read.


Ariel the Thief said...

I'd like to speak for Woody Harrelson because he surprised me in that movie two times. First when he showed up, at the moment I looked at him, I knew he was going to die. Then in the scene he is sitting in the armchair, staring at the face of Chigurg I could smell his panic even though his face hardly changed at all.

"it wasn't anywhere near as traumatic to watch as I thought it would be. Of course, our television is really small" LOL!

TLP said...

So, would I like it? I don't have anything very interesting to read right now.

actonbell said...

Ariel, I was too hard on Woody, because I was prejudiced--he just wasn't what I had in mind.

Mom, you would definitely like the book!

Sean P. Farley said...

I, too, recently saw No Country. The idea to see it gave me anxiety because I'd heard so much about Javier Bardem's consciousless killings. That kind of violence frightens me, the kind that is realistic and heartless. But I enjoyed it a lot. I need to see the end again, Tommy's dialogue to his wife, 'cause I was putting the rest of the movie together in my head, trying to understand it, so I lost focus. But it was chilling. I generally don't like Tommy Lee Jones, but he was amazing. That drawl was perfect. And Josh Brolin? The Goonie? Who knew?! And Javier? Just seeing that first scene where he's handcuffed and he slowly, casually brings his cuffed hands under his feet, only to strangle the police officer. Great. Anyway, that's my two cents!