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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Cormac McCarthy

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25,280121044 (4.08)1 / 1329
Title:The Road
Authors:Cormac McCarthy
Info:Picador (2007), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites, Read
Tags:2009, post-apocalyptic, 2014

Work details

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

  1. 293
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (goodiegoodie)
  2. 250
    Blindness by José Saramago (browner56, ateolf, lilisin)
    browner56: Two harrowing, well-written looks at what we can expect when society breaks down
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    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (mrstreme)
  4. 150
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (macktan894)
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    I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (PDcastello)
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    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JD456)
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    On the Beach by Nevil Shute (Navarone)
  9. 102
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (skroz, goodiegoodie)
  10. 103
    No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (dmitriyk)
    dmitriyk: Written simply, with a very similar style and attitude.
  11. 70
    Into the Forest by Jean Hegland (owen1218)
  12. 159
    The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition by Stephen King (2810michael)
  13. 83
    Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (psybre)
    psybre: Earth Abides, a classic post-apocalyptic novel published in 1949, is a bit less dark, and as an ecological fable, contains more science than The Road. When pondering to read The Road again, read this book instead.
  14. 40
    The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosiński (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Kosinski & McCarthy were born 5 weeks apart in 1933 and were ages 6-12 during WWII. Both books are dark violent fables told from a child's view.
  15. 51
    The Pesthouse by Jim Crace (llishman, MarkYoung)
  16. 20
    I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman (Tanglewood, tottman)
    tottman: Both are dystopian novels with engaging and driven main characters. They are bleak but extraordinarily moving and compelling.
  17. 30
    Rivers: A Novel by Michael Farris Smith (GCPLreader)
  18. 30
    Ashes, Ashes by René Barjavel (grimm)
  19. 52
    The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Two post-apocalyptic masterpieces, with much of their power coming from their focus on a couple of characters and the exotic horrors that threaten them.
  20. 20
    In A Perfect World by Laura Kasischke (bdav1818)

(see all 40 recommendations)


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English (1,138)  French (19)  Spanish (15)  Dutch (8)  Italian (6)  German (5)  Danish (4)  Swedish (4)  Catalan (3)  Norwegian (2)  Finnish (2)  Czech (1)  All (1)  Bulgarian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Polish (1)  All (1,211)
Showing 1-5 of 1138 (next | show all)
This book really irritated me and not just for the lack of grammar and punctuation. I think what irritated me the most was the fact that the novel is completely devoid of any hope and is also severely lacking in plot and development. (Whose bright idea was it to turn this into a movie? Are you kidding me right now?)

I don't think this was very well thought out. I sincerely wouldn't be surprised to learn it was simply a stream of consciousness exercise. The world is not developed. There is no rhyme or reason to really anything anyone does. (I know, I know survival is the reason right? But really, what are these people surviving for? There is no point!) Then there is that random ending. . .I won't give it away but seriously that's how you're going to end this?

I'm just really glad it's finally over with. I will give McCarthy one thing. He did contribute to a week full of nightmares and I did find myself thinking about what I were to do if I found myself in a similarly barren world. (I'd be screwed since I live in a desert.) ( )
  Emma_Manolis | Jun 27, 2017 |
This is a post-apocalyptic book but the most realistically imagined that I’ve ever read. A father and his young son (both are never named in the novel) are heading south in the hope that it will be warmer and they will find food. In this world, all the plants and trees have died, and most of the animals and human beings have been killed off by an event that is only briefly described. The son is still idealistic and cares about people, where the father has to be more defensive in order to protect the two of them against opportunists, dangerous criminals and starvation.

I read the story with a horrible sense of dread, nearly afraid to turn the page to see what might happen next. And I feared how the book would end. It’s amazing how vested you become in these two characters. "Each the other’s world entire." The relationship between father and son was realistic and very touching.

It’s the boy who broke my heart many times over in this story. In a civilization that had vanished, this child fought to redefine what was good and evil, and right and wrong. What tore at me most was the fear experienced by the boy whenever they have to go into a house. I wondered where his fear first originated? His fear and the way that it was written made me cry – I almost couldn’t stand it. In his narrow life there was no room for humor, or play, or imagination. Many of the things that define childhood were stripped from him even before birth.

I’m really glad to have read the book and consider it my top read of the year 2006. I especially enjoyed the writing itself, because there are some really beautiful phrases in here.
( )
1 vote dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
A truly poignant read.

Within the first few pages, you are pulled into the bleak, post apocalyptic future seen through the eyes and travels of a man and a boy. Simple and elegant prose... eloquently crafted.

Something that stays with you long after the last page is read... ( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
Reading The Road is certainly one of my literary highlights in all my years as a bibliophile. The sparsity of its world is mirrored in the prose and pulls you in deeper the further you read. The dialog between the two main characters is phenomenally strong and manages to convey how 'the man' or father is struggling to look after and protect his son in the remains of a world we once all knew and how his son is trying to find something to hold onto his innocence when everyone around him seems to be 'the bad people'.

It manages to hit all the emotional points and leaves you with an immense sense of hope. The ending is probably one of the best I've read in a long time and even though part of you knows what will eventually happen at the end of the story you still are emotionally drained after reading it.

I can't think of a better book to recommend to friends and fmaily and anyone who wants to lose themselves in a wonderful world and story. ( )
  MerkabaZA | Jun 12, 2017 |

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a sparse, spare, bleak book. The narrative follows a man and his son – who are given no names and described only as 'the man' and 'the boy' – on their journey of survival across a USA blasted by some unnamed catastrophe. It is a setting familiar from post-apocalyptic science fiction films, books and, latterly, computer games and, as such, much of the setting is familiar. Whatever the disaster was, it is absolute; there seems to be no life of any kind, plant or animal, other than the few straggling survivors of humanity. Trees are dead, the sky is cold and dark – perhaps a nuclear winter, although the lack of life also suggests the possibility of some chemical poison. While in many a post-apocalyptic tale this would be important, here what has happened is an irrelevance; the characters do not consider it any more than McCarthy invites speculation. The world has ended, and the man and the boy must deal with the aftermath.

There is another major difference from the usual end-of-the-world fare. Whether the cataclysm is an act of man or god, weapon or nature, disease or the dead rising from their graves, these settings usually share a certain glorying in the devastation, a kind of survivalist pornography. This is not a world in which McCarthy is interested. There is no glory here, no battling against the odds. Any survival at all is tenuous and fraught.

And yet at the book's heart there is a thread of hope, a glimmering skein of gold in the darkness. What the novel seems to be about is a man raising his son in a world beset by depredation and despair, trying to instil morality and goodness and hope while realising he has to trust the child's own judgement; if he lies and tries to hide the evil around them he will lose the boy's belief in him. He tells the boy constantly that they are the good guys, and yet what is the boy who believes this to think when they are unable – or unwilling – to help other people? To what lengths can or should the man go to protect what is most precious to him? After all is said, is the parent sometimes protecting a child from their own fears and perhaps hiding them from hope rather than giving it to them?

There is horror in this book ( if no plants grow or animals live, what is there to eat? ). The tone throughout is sombre, the protagonists are filled with fear and living on the very brink of oblivion, reminiscent of the worst depredations forced on refugees everywhere. McCarthy is simply one of the most beautiful wordsmiths in the English language, his spare prose deceptively simple, sometimes delivered in an almost child-like grammar - “He stood and got hold of the door and swung it over and let it slam down and he turned to grab the boy but the boy had gotten up and was doing his little dance of terror” - interspersed with complex language and frequent pieces of almost painful beauty, and with a deftness of tone and pace that is simply unmatched. Something in McCarthy's style makes me think of Dylan Thomas at his very best, flowing and easy and poetic and beautiful, crafted with such care that the hard work is made to disappear and leave visible only the grace of the prose and the imagery. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 1138 (next | show all)
But McCarthy’s latest effort, The Road, is a missed opportunity.
With only the corpse of a natural world to grapple with, McCarthy's father and son exist in a realm rarely seen in the ur-masculine literary tradition: the domestic. And from this unlikely vantage McCarthy makes a big, shockingly successful grab at the universal.
added by eereed | editSlate, Jennifer Egan (Oct 10, 2006)
“The Road” is a dynamic tale, offered in the often exalted prose that is McCarthy’s signature, but this time in restrained doses — short, vivid sentences, episodes only a few paragraphs or a few lines long, which is yet another departure for him.
Post-apocalyptic fiction isn't automatically better when written by Cormac McCarthy, but he does have a way of investing genre clichés with fine gray tones and morose poetry.
added by eereed | editA.V. Club, Noel Murray (Oct 5, 2006)
But even with its flaws, there's just no getting around it: The Road is a frightening, profound tale that drags us into places we don't want to go, forces us to think about questions we don't want to ask. Readers who sneer at McCarthy's mythic and biblical grandiosity will cringe at the ambition of The Road . At first I kept trying to scoff at it, too, but I was just whistling past the graveyard. Ultimately, my cynicism was overwhelmed by the visceral power of McCarthy's prose and the simple beauty of this hero's love for his son.
added by eereed | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Oct 1, 2006)

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCarthy, Cormacprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Preis, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stechschulte, TomReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Testa, MartinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This book is dedicated to John Francis McCarthy
First words
When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.
He'd not have thought the value of the smallest thing predicated on a world to come. It surprised him. That the space which these things occupied was itself an expectation (149).
From daydreams on the road there was no waking. He plodded on. He could remember everything of her save her scent. Seated in a theatre with her beside him leaning forward listening to the music. Gold scrollwork and sconces and the tall columnar folds of the drapes at either side of the stage. She held his hand in her lap and he could feel the tops of her stockings through the thin stuff of her summer dress. Freeze this frame. Now call down your dark and your cold and be damned.
He pulled the boy closer. Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that.

You forget some things, don't you?

Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.
It took two days to cross that ashen scabland. The road beyond fell away on every side. It's snowing, the boy said. He looked at the sky. A single gray flake sifting down. He caught it in his hand and watched it expire there like the last host of christendom.
He thought if he lived long enough the world at last would be lost. Like the dying world the newly blind inhabit, all of it slowly fading from memory.
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Book description
The Road follows a man and a boy, father and son, journeying together for many months across a desolate, post-apocalyptic landscape, some years – the period of time almost the same as the age of the boy – after a great, unexplained cataclysm.
Haiku summary
His world burned away,
A man walks seaward;
Tries to save the son.

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In a novel set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity.

(summary from another edition)

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