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The Road (2006)

by Cormac McCarthy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
34,137140077 (4.06)1 / 1542
In this postapocalyptic novel, a father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. They sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food--and each other. This book boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. It is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 315
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (mrstreme)
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    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (goodiegoodie)
  3. 251
    Blindness by José Saramago (browner56, ateolf, lilisin)
    browner56: Two harrowing, well-written looks at what we can expect when society breaks down
  4. 181
    I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (PDcastello)
    PDcastello: Same type of small and silent epic
  5. 150
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (macktan894)
  6. 130
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  8. 132
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (skroz, goodiegoodie)
  9. 121
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  10. 123
    No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (dmitriyk)
    dmitriyk: Written simply, with a very similar style and attitude.
  11. 103
    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.
  12. 169
    The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition by Stephen King (2810michael)
  13. 70
    Into the Forest by Jean Hegland (owen1218)
  14. 30
    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.
  15. 73
    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.
  16. 51
    The Pesthouse by Jim Crace (llishman, MarkYoung)
  17. 41
    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.
  18. 30
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  19. 42
    Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Boohradley)
    Boohradley: There are a lot of similarities between the plot of this book and The Road. In Parable of the Sower an adolescent girl, who suffers from hyper-empathy, makes a long journey in hope of survival in a hostile, post-apocalyptic world.
  20. 31
    Ashes, Ashes by René Barjavel (grimm)

(see all 44 recommendations)

AP Lit (315)

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» See also 1542 mentions

English (1,317)  French (20)  Spanish (16)  Italian (8)  Dutch (8)  German (6)  Swedish (5)  Danish (4)  Catalan (3)  Finnish (2)  Norwegian (2)  Bulgarian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Polish (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (1,396)
Showing 1-5 of 1317 (next | show all)
I resisted reading this novel as my impression was that its worldview would prove to be entirely too bleak and dismal. Not just the description of the novel but McCarthy's overall reputation preceded it. And now I find it's a story of naive Christianity, of living with love for one's fellow man even in the worst imaginable circumstances, how hope and goodness are the true core of the universe. Well then!

McCarthy takes his time to disabuse me of my preconception. Roving bands of horrific cannibal gangs. All is now gray ash, no living plant or non-human animal life remaining. The boy's mother sounds right when she says in a flashback scene, announcing her suicide to her husband, "We're not survivors. We're the walking dead in a horror film... I'd take him with me if it weren't for you. You know I would. It's the right thing to do." I'm nodding, thinking yeah, I'd do it too.

McCarthy's prose runs existentially bleak:
Everything damp. Rotting. In a drawer he found a candle. No way to light it. He put it in his pocket. 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.

It's a reverse mystical experience. Instead of a flash of insight into the oneness and goodness of creation, it's a flash of its absolute negation. It's bleak and depressing but it's riveting writing, I really want to keep reading and following this journey from blackest hell (or nothingness, rather).

I race through it and lo, the novel's penultimate paragraph:
The woman when she saw him put her arms around him and held him. Oh, she said, I am so glad to see you. She would talk to him sometimes about God. He tried to talk to God but the best thing was to talk to his father and he did talk to him and he didnt forget. The woman said that was all right. She said that the breath of God was his breath yet though it pass from man to man through all time.

And the novel's final sentence:
In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

This is not the bleak prophet of despair I'd come to expect. Rather far from it. Then I thought back to how the boy, though always terrified and in fear, is also always begging his father not to hurt or kill anyone, even when attacked and their survival threatened. They come across an old man on the road, and he begs his father to give the man food from their almost exhausted store. A solitary outcast steals all their supplies without which they'd quickly die and they catch him, and the boy implores his father not to do anything to harm the man. He longs to care for others. In this most dire of possibly imaginable environments, he's the ultimate bleeding heart, acting out Christ, in all its seeming practical ridiculousness, despite his fear.

I've read that McCarthy wrote this novel inspired by his love for his own son. It does focus on that love front and center, the terrible choices that love can face, the fierce devotion of a parent to their child. But there's an even bigger love here. ( )
1 vote lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Father and son struggle to survive after some event has destroyed earth as we know it. A book of relationship. Very good.
  bentstoker | Jan 26, 2024 |
(2007)A father & son try to find livable conditions in a post apocalyptic world that they don't totally understand or is explained. Very good quick read. Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work. McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries. In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith. --Dennis Lehane
  derailer | Jan 25, 2024 |
So much of nothing happens in this book. There's no character development, and precious little character exposition. The situation (whole world, including plants and animals, is dying) is given no explanation and precious little coherent thought. (Why are humans still able to have babies if animals aren't? ) I kept reading/listening to this thing hoping something would eventually happen. I was thoroughly disappointed. ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
Beautifully written, but simply not enough story. Probably better than the film, though altogether similar. Will not revisit McCarthy again. ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 1317 (next | show all)
Délaissant les paysages arides de l'Ouest américain, Cormac McCarthy imagine une planète ravagée par une apocalypse nucléaire, un monde d'une radicale hostilité où un homme et son fils tentent de survivre envers et contre tout.
added by vibesandall | editLePoint (Jun 16, 2023)
But McCarthy’s latest effort, The Road, is a missed opportunity.
added by vibesandall | editThe New Criterion, Stefan Beck (Oct 3, 2011)
Nicht minder bedeutend und nicht minder nobelpreiswürdig als die immer noch berühmteren, aber ebenso nobelpreislosen amerikanischen Kollegen Philip Roth und John Updike ist für Hubert Spiegel der Literat Cormac McCarthy. Dies Buch ist hierzulande, wohl der Verfilmung wegen im Deutschen erst jetzt erschienen, fast zeitgleich mit dem ihm im Original erst ein Jahr später folgenden "Die Straße". Spiegel bespricht sie in einer Kritik und betont, dass nur eines von beiden, nämlich dies hier ein wirkliches "Meisterwerk" ist, womöglich sogar McCarthys stärkstes Buch. Das Szenario ist postapokalyptisch. Spiegel: "Die Welt ist verbrannt, verkohlt, entseelt." Ein paar marodierende Menschen sind übrig, nicht einmal vor Kannibalismus schrecken sie zurück. Im Zentrum stehen, namenlos unterwegs, Vater und Sohn. Sie diskutieren moralische und metaphysische Fragen und wollen zum Meer. Eine totale Reduktion aufs Grundsätzliche, die der Rezensent Hubert Spiegel in diesem Fall mit Enthusiasmus quittiert .
added by vibesandall | editFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Jun 7, 2008)
Alex Rühle gibt sich als langjähriger Cormac-McCarthy-Bewunderer zu erkennen, findet es aber dann doch ärgerlich, dass der amerikanische Autor ausgerechnet für "Die Straße" nun den Pulitzer-Preis erhalten hat, wo er doch schon so viel Besseres geschrieben habe. Immerhin erweist sich der Autor auch bei der völlig verwüsteten, verkohlten Landschaft, durch die ein Vater und sein Sohn nach einem nicht näher beschriebenen Krieg irren, noch als virtuoser Beschwörer der - in diesem Fall zerstörten - Natur, so der Rezensent bewundernd. Allerdings findet er den alles durchziehenden Ernst und die stets auf existentiellem Niveau schwingenden Dialoge auf die Dauer ziemlich anstrengend. Im Roman geht es stets ums nackte Überleben und um die Frage, angesichts der Katastrophe noch moralisch integer zu bleiben, meint Rühle, der einen kleinen Scherz hin und wieder zu schätzen gewusst hätte. Die Versatzstücke aus dem Horrorgenre kratzen zudem am Niveau des Romans, und am Ende hat der Rezensent gar den Eindruck, bei einem Hollywoodschinken a la "Conan, der Barbar" gelandet zu sein.
added by vibesandall | editSüddeutsche Zeitung (Apr 26, 2007)
Für Angela Schader spaltet sich das Werk von Cormac McCarthy in den Insidertipp und den Bestseller, und sie macht deutlich, wo ihre Sympathien liegen. "Die Straße" bedient ihrer Einschätzung nach wieder das breite Publikum, was ihr Missfallen erregt. Vater und Sohn sind seit Jahren auf dem Weg durch eine völlig zerstörte Welt an die Küste, wo sie sich ein leichteres Leben und vor allem Sicherheit vor der allgegenwärtigen Gefahr, Kannibalen anheim zu fallen, erhoffen. Für die Rezensentin operiert der Roman mit einer allzu eindeutigen Moral, Gut und Böse seien zu eindimensional zugeordnet. Auch wenn, wie Schader einräumt, das Buch insbesondere in seinen endzeitlichen Szenarien sehr fesselnd ist, findet sie, dass es gerade durch seine Konzentration auf die Beziehung zwischen Vater und Sohn und wegen des abenteuerlichen Settings über Jugendbuch-Niveau kaum hinausgeht. Auch das etwas gezwungenen Happy End, das die Rezensentin fairer Weise nicht verrät, scheint ihr als Schwäche und so ist sie von dem Roman, der wie sie findet der Konstruktion nach einiges zu versprechen schien, ziemlich enttäuscht.
added by vibesandall | editNeue Zürcher Zeitung (Apr 25, 2007)

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McCarthy, Cormacprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borràs, RosaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chabon, MichaelAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
DuBois, GérardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Golüke, GuidoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hirsch, FrançoisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murillo Fort, LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Preis, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stechschulte, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Testa, MartinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed



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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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Wikipedia in English (1)

In this postapocalyptic novel, a father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. They sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food--and each other. This book boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. It is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.--From publisher description.

No library descriptions found.

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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