Saturday, June 16, 2007

42. "The Road" - Cormac McCarthy


One could say that this novel about what happens years after the apocalypse is a metaphor for life; thus, it is Cormac McCarthy's swan song of his own dark travels.

But such analysis is banal when faced with the horror this book invokes. A father and son, alive-but-just-barely, walking south to the coast after an unnamed worldwide catastrophic disaster kills off everything alive. This is the story of what happens when cows are extinct and no plant survives due to a blackout of the sun. Truly God-fearing, Bible-thumping apocalypse.

Humans become monsters. I cannot write that sentence without feeling its inadequacy. How about, humans become unrecognizable to the point that I felt like the pages were bleeding.

It is a novel without hope, but with daggers of light - kindness, beauty, strength. It is only by concentrating on those things that one is able to make it past the first few chapters.

Special books cast a scar upon the reader. This one would be placed near my heart... or across my wrists.

4.9 out of 5.0 Red Deaths.

Entry altered to include this as a banned book. If it isn't already, it will be soon.

11 comments:

Joy said...

I agree...pretty powerful book.

Anonymous said...

I could not put this book down and read it straight through. After finishing, I felt wrung out. Interesting point about the metaphor to his life. Some of the imagery, god what can you say? Brilliant writing, but godawful subject matter.

Dewey said...

I felt so affected by this book, both negatively and positively, that I wrote up a post about it and then never published it. I think I have to mull it over a while before I even try to express myself about it.

Mom2the5rs said...

Just finished this book. I agree with your assesment and I don't know what else to say. I can't tell you how blessed I feel to look out my window now and see green grass, cars driving by and birds perching on my fence.

Jules

Kristin Dodge said...

Feeling "wrung out" is exactly how I felt. What book can you choose to read after such a powerful experience?

Did you all feel hopeful at the end of this novel? I know that this has been discussed at Joy's blog, but I wanted to pose the question to my readers...

Bendagen said...

Have you read "Blindness" by Jose Saramago? It seems these two may be similar because although I have just started reading The Road, my reaction to Blindness was similar to your reaction to The Road. Blindess is a must read -- but not for the weak of spirit. It would also be a "banned" book.

I like your blog.
Mary

Anonymous said...

Loved the dialogue format and the poetry like "casket black."
I too would read it at work and then look at my sandwich and thank the Lord for the food. The book makes me think. It's simple one and two word sentences, put you at the scene. The book is like a time machine, in that I'm there with the two of them. Like a great painting, this work of art has a breathing presence that is hard to put into words but you just know inside because it touches you inside.

cg said...

McCarthy's skill with the language left me as impressed as the story itself. I am unaware of any writer who can paint images so precisely with so few words.

You mentioned ". . . a novel without hope . . . ". What else but hope could drive the man forward through such a bleak and tormented world? For me, the book's ending shone with hope. McCarthy leaves the boy with "the good guys" in a place where all things "hummed with mystery."

JOE said...

this book was full of hope! throughout the horrific destruction and death, they carried the "fire". the whole thing acts as a symbol of a man surviving his own life. Through grief and adversity he persevered and succeeded in raising his son into a man. This book made me feel hope in the worst situations of life and helped me realize that things like grief and death are not the worst things in the world....giving up on your future and the future of your children is.
This book changed the way i will read forever

Anonymous said...

I just have to say that I really doubt that the ending was actually happy. My personal theory is that the boy was dreaming, as was set-up by McCarthy earlier in the book. He described that if he did not have the boy (his reason for waking up in the morning) that he would stay asleep eternally (not phrased like that though...it has been a while since I've read the book). How would the boy just happen to come across a nice family, especially one with kids his age, which was his dream. If anyone has actually read any of McCarthy's other books, (yes, I know, they are not Oparah's book club books), At least the ones that I have either read or know the ending to either end with the main character dying or losing all faith in God and man-kind. This novel is amazing, but is extremely morbid and pessamistic. I do not see it offering any hope.

Anonymous said...

I read this book straight through also and shivered beneath my covers most of the night. I think something that is missing from several of the anaylses that I've read is the tragic way humanity just failed. When the man struck open the trap door and found the grubby slaves and realized they were being eaten? I wanted to stop reading then, but I had to go on because I couldn't imagine not giving the characters some hope. It reminded me of the fact that unfortunately, the bad guys outnumber the good guys. Always. It's a terrifying thought but really, man is just a sandwich and a sweater away from hell.

Also, I just moved a thousand miles from my parents to go to school and it almost made me regret my decision. What if an event like that happened and I, a girl of 26 years and (ahem) not bad-looking had to try to find a way back to my people without cars or planes or well-stocked grocery stores? God, things are so much scarier in the dark.

A truly terrifying book.