Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The RoadReviewed by Connie 

Published: 2006

It's about: The Road is a post-apocalyptic tale of a father and son who daily struggle not only for survival in the gray, barren world around them, but also struggle to find a reason to survive.  In presumably a nuclear winter, the man and his boy's only hope lie in finding the coast and in knowing that no matter what the cost, they are always the "good guys."  It is a novel that explores the love that exists between a father and a son and questions what it is that gives our life meaning and drives us to do good in this world.

I thought: Though it got off to a slow start, I....LOVED....this book.  Not only is it a fantastic exploration of a father-son relationship, it made me question things I hadn't questioned before -- at least not in that way.  It made me wonder, "If there were no people in the world that I could see at least, no hobbies, nothing except the need for survival, what would give my life meaning?  Why would I want to survive?"  If I didn't have school, books, or even people to serve, what would I do?  In what would I find happiness?  It made me wonder if Adam and Eve ever felt that way, alone on the planet, working for everything they got.  It is a slow-paced, quiet, gray book that is written with genius and real heart.  I don't reread many books, but I will definitely reread this one.

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf!!!

Interesting info: The Road won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 2007.

Also, if you're into movies adapted from books, this one was remade, released in November, 2009, starring Viggo Mortenson.  I haven't seen it, but from the trailer, it looks a lot more action-packed than the book, in a rather negative way.

Reading Recommendations: If you're looking for a 2012, Book of Ely, Independence Day, end of the world in book form, don't bother with this book.  I guess if that's what you're looking for, watch the movie instead.  The books begins well after the destruction of the world and hardly even mentions what happened to it.  Also, be warned there are no chapter markings, no quotation marks around dialogue, and sometimes contractions without apostrophes, which is all a little disorienting at first, but it works surprisingly well.

Warnings: This book is free from sex and swearing, but there are definitely some adult themes such as cannibalism.  All in all, though, it's very clean.

Favorite excerpts:

"What's the bravest thing you ever did?
He spat in the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said." 

"He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it."

"He was just hungry, Papa. He's going to die.
He's going to die anyway.
He's so scared, Papa.
The man squatted and looked at him. I'm scared, he said. Do you understand? I'm scared.
The boy didn't answer. He just sat there with his head down, sobbing.
You're not the one who has to worry about everything.
The boy said something but he couldn't understand him. What? He said.
He looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one."

"He rose while the boy slept and pulled on his shoes and wrapped in his blanket he walked out through the trees. He descended into a gryke in the stone and there he crouched coughing and he coughed for a long time. Then he just knelt in the ashes. He raised his face to the paling day. Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at the last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered. Oh God."