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The Road (original 2006; edition 2007)
by Cormac McCarthy
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Author) (2006)
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A thoroughly engrossing story of precise and spare prose. McCarthy wastes not a single word, nor wanders down extraneous tangents. He tells the brutal story of the love of a father for his son in a blasted world bereft of hope and compassion. The power of the sentences will move to you terror, despair, and longing.
At times I wanted to hide from its starkness, but being unable to put it down, I could not.
Not at all what I'd hoped for, the story is akin to a broken record, lacks depth and is depressing. Adding nameless characters to the mess and no chapter breaks makes for a lackluster, ordinary tale. Can't recommend it at all in spite of not spending the time to finish it.
It’s been a while since I actually sat down and read this book. I did so the first (and last) time for a University class, and I wasn’t too disappointed, but it didn’t do much in way of impressing me either.
The novel is an early 2000s imagining of what the end of the world would look like, if the end of the world were full of soot, darkness, and cannibals. The entire narrative shifts around a father and son who, with a shopping trolley full of supplies, are trying to make it to the sea; they seem to be under the impression that getting to the sea would solve all their problems. Or at least, keep them safe.
The father and son serve as an exploration of the relationship and love between family members in times of crisis. Father will do anything to keep his son safe and as innocent as possible; son will do whatever his father asks, because he knows it’s for the best. Through their journey across what used to be America to get to the coast, they find themselves encountering death, relics of a time long gone (such as Coca Cola), death, a human race who has succumbed to the purest sense of ‘survival of the fittest’, and more death.
What I found particularly interesting about the novel isn’t the plot itself, but rather what seems to have happened before the plot. The apocalypse that has hit the world seems to be one caused by humanity’s selfishness, a selfishness that has destroyed the environment and created the desolate wasteland they inhabit now. The entire world is sooty and dark, due to either some for of chemical warfare, or humanity damaging the environment beyond repair. What’s especially interesting about the apocalypse is that it seems to have been around for a much longer time than we initially think. The son was born during the apocalypse, presumably at a time when it hadn’t escalated to the state it reached during the plot. His mother abandoned the the family when he was just a baby, presumably committing suicide because the thought of living in a world so dark and grim drove her mad. The boy has never heard of Coca Cola, despite being no older than years old, and his father talks about the stuff as if it were gold. But it all leads to one simple conclusion: this is something that has been happening for years, possible decades, and what we’re seeing now is the culmination of everything that happened into one, very desolate landscape.
Ultimately, this book served as a very crystal clear reminder of the road we could possibly be heading down. Speculative fiction is a very powerful tool – from Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale to Orwell’s 1984, we’ve seen authors’ ways of imagining our future, and how bad it could possibly get. But every speculative future in fiction comes from a place that we all know we could actually get to some day. There is some truth in the speculation; otherwise, authors wouldn’t be warning us about it like this.
Final rating: 3/5. I think the fact I had to read it for a class put a bit of a damper on me, but it’s still pretty good, if only for the message it gives.
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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.
“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.
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.
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Wikipedia in English (1)
America is a barren landscape of smoldering ashes, devoid of life except for those people still struggling to scratch out some type of existence. Amidst the destruction, a father and his young son walk, always toward the coast, but with no real understanding that circumstances will improve once they arrive. Still they persevere, and their relationship comes to represent goodness in a world that is utterly devastated.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.
This was surprisingly good. It’s an award-winner (usually a bad sign for me), and I didn’t like the other book I’ve read by this author. I found it interesting that neither of the characters had a name. It was slow-moving, and often not much happened (though there were a few things that happened along the way that got the blood pumping!), but I really liked it. ( )