Sunday, May 13, 2007

No Country for Old Men....or is it?!?

So, I am finally, completely, one-hundred-percent THROUGH. Georgia State just has to mail me my sheep skin, and that's that, Arafat. I am more thrilled to be done with GSU than I am proud that my college career is over. That's pretty obvious though, considering GSU has not prepared me in any way whatsoever for the real world. Though the drinking involved would surely make me prepared for The Real World or whichever permutation currently exists.

I checked out this morning with nothing interesting to report back. I, thus, got to work about an hour and a half early, which is awlays welcome, so I stopped into Caribou Coffee to read the new book I'd recently acquired. Yes, it actually is a book featuring text exclusively, not a graphic novel with pictures. I LOVE graphic novels, and I thoroughly enjoy the ones of I read (in fact, the past five books I've read were graphic novels: David Boring, Torso, Jinx, Blankets, and Black Hole), but I feel like I'm using them to put off reading a book with words again. What book am I reading? Well, that's kinda complicated.

While we were in Sylva, we stopped at this tiny bookstore that we had been to back in September. It was basically a bunch of old library books someone had donated or something at some point in history, and now they were here. I browsed casually, slightly uninterested because the books were both old and unfamiliar. However, a title popped into my field of vision: "No Country for Old Men."

The title clicked; I recognized the title as being the book the Coen brothers are currently adapting into a film. I grabbed it off the shelf and flipped open the cover. $1.50 was scribbled in pencil above the library card. A buck fifty! I can afford that, I thought to myself. And what's more, I actually had the cash on me.

I bought the book, and I sat down and the read the prologue. Hm, ok, it's about a poet named Henry Raven. He's on a ship. And he's been murdered, but it's been made to look like a suicide. And...Nazis? Hm, if I recall, the publicity stills from the Coens' new film feature Tommy Lee the desert. And Javier Badem or some name or other is a ruthless murderer. Is this the same book? I continued reading.

The main character (so far) is a man writing a biography on the deceased poet. I flipped to the dust cover, which I had avoided wanting to go into the book and film fresh (well, the film not so much, seeing as how I was reading the book, or so I thought). It's a thriller. Really? This picture just isn't adding up. The Coens' desert movie with Tommy Lee Jones is a thriller about a writer researching a dead poet?

I go into work and excitedly tell Kyle and Becca that I'm reading a book with words. "What book?" "No Country for Old Men." Kyle nods, "Oh, cool. Is that the Cormac McCarthy book the Coen brothers are doing?"

What? My book is written by Alan Schwartz. Not to be confused with Alvin Schwartz, author of the Scary Stories series.

Anyhow, I'm still confused. I'm about to research the mystery of how two books have the exact same title. I'm not totally upset that I'm reading the wrong book. Schwartz' tome is actually quite good! It's getting my mind back into the world of prose and language, and he is pretty adept at writing. Did I accidentally discover a gem?

UPDATE: Not as interesting as I thought. Both are named after the same line in a Yeats' poem "Sailing to Byzantium." Schwartz quotes Yeats on the page before the prologue. Hm. What the hell. It's actually sad, because no one has talked about this book at all, and it says on the flap that Schwartz is working on his second book, but there's no information about it. The main character is struggling with getting his first book published. Sad that he becomes the botched debut.


Random Non Sequitur said...

I was amused by the Cohn bros inability to google search the title. OR they just took the liberty of borrowing it again. Schwartz wrote his in 1980 (or rather that's when it was published) so I doubt he's to worried about them botching his big debut.

Mike said...

Well the Coen Brothers just kept the title from the Cormac McCarthy book they adapted, which also had the same title, so it wouldn't have made a difference if they Googled the title. It's not like this is the first time that two books have had the same title.