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Jonathan Lowe
AudioFile, December 2009

The source for the superb film NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is the equally superb short novel by Cormac McCarthy. Just as the casting of Javier Bardem for the movie role of killer-for-hire Anton Chigurh was inspired, so too is Sean Barrett a befitting narrator for the audiobook version. Barrett voices Chigurh with chilling nonchalance. This characterization is made more engaging by his contrasting interpretations of the other characters, who are brought to life complete with west Texas accents and head-scratching consternation. The novel is taut and evenly paced; the dialogue terse and always believable. Barrett performs with an unerring sense of character, pace, and drama.

Jonathan Lowe
Audiobooks Today, November 2009

It’s difficult to imagine a better narrator for No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy than Sean Barrett, (after hearing this short novel performed), although (knowing his work) I’m sure that Tom Stechschulte is also superb in his version. What makes Barrett a great choice to speak the killer’s words here is oddly similar to what made Javier Bardem a great choice for the character of Anton Chigurh in the Coen brothers movie version. Barrett has an understated, calm, but not quite laid-back air about his delivery, with vocal characteristics to match. There’s an element of tension present that the mirror surface can’t quite hide. You expect the worst to happen, and it does. As for the story, if you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s about a escaped killer tracking a man who found a bag of money related to a failed drug buy. Tommy Lee Jones plays the sheriff in the movie, and he’s trying to find both men before they find each other. Sounds simple enough. But as this morality tale plays out against the stark backdrop of west Texas it also expands its reach past mere entertainment into the realm of literature by extending its scope beyond three men in the desert to the bigger questions that have plagued man from the beginning. Hearing this “audio movie” version will be instructive for Coen brothers fans and screenwriters too, since you can compare, as I did, the dialogue between the book and the movie, and so see what choices the Coen brothers made in editing. Surprisingly, they stayed pretty much with the story, (except for one major scene), and were true to the dialogue too, but there are other subtle differences. (Some scenes were tightened, others emphasized by the Coens. Little extra dialogue was added, but some was subtracted.) By comparing, you will be able to figure out why (and which) things work better on the screen or on the page. As reader, Sean Barrett is an appropriate guide to this very original story, with spot-on west Texas accents and believable female characters, too. Speaking in the voice of the killer, though, he’s chillingly real and a minimalist just like Chigurh himself—a man of few emotions, attuned to destiny, accepting of fate, just telling it like it is, whether you like what truths are revealed about the world or not.

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10:25:32 PM, 4 August 2015
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