Book Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy | More2Read
 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy


The searing, post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son’s fight to survive.

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. The 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.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It 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. Awesome in the totality of its vision, 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.


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Praise for The Road:

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

One of the Best Books of the Year
The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, The Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York, People, Rocky Mountain News, Time, The Village Voice, The Washington Post

“His tale of survival and the miracle of goodness only adds to McCarthy’s stature as a living master. It’s gripping, frightening and, ultimately, beautiful. It might very well be the best book of the year, period.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“Vivid, eloquent . . . The Road is the most readable of [McCarthy’s] works, and consistently brilliant in its imagining of the posthumous condition of nature and civilization.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“One of McCarthy’s best novels, probably his most moving and perhaps his most personal.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Illuminated by extraordinary tenderness. . . . Simple yet mysterious, simultaneously cryptic and crystal clear. The Road offers nothing in the way of escape or comfort. But its fearless wisdom is more indelible than reassurance could ever be.”
—The New York Times

“No American writer since Faulkner has wandered so willingly into the swamp waters of deviltry and redemption. . . . [McCarthy] has written this last waltz with enough elegant reserve to capture what matters most.”
—The Boston Globe

“There is an urgency to each page, and a raw emotional pull . . . making [The Road] easily one of the most harrowing books you’ll ever encounter. . . . Once opened, [it is] nearly impossible to put down; it is as if you must keep reading in order for the characters to stay alive. . . . The Road is a deeply imagined work and harrowing no matter what your politics.”
—Bookforum

“We find this violent, grotesque world rendered in gorgeous, melancholic, even biblical cadences. . . . Few books can do more; few have done better. Read this book.”
—Rocky Mountain News

“A dark book that glows with the intensity of [McCarthy’s] huge gift for language. . . . Why read this? . . . Because in its lapidary transcription of the deepest despair short of total annihilation we may ever know, this book announces the triumph of language over nothingness.”
—Chicago Tribune

“The love between the father and the son is one of the most profound relationships McCarthy has ever written.”
—The Christian Science Monitor

“The Road is a wildly powerful and disturbing book that exposes whatever black bedrock lies beneath grief and horror. Disaster has never felt more physically and spiritually real.”
—Time

“The Road is the logical culmination of everything [McCarthy]’s written.”
—Newsweek


Review:

(This is a review with a different approach using a fictional voice| October 2012)

The living is sparse
a few walk upon the land.

The two of us, my son and i
wonder the land constantly on the move
never in one place for more than a night
we eat what we can find.
Canned fruit in high numbers.

My younger companion is constantly asking me questions of which the answer I can’t really give honestly.
Will we meet some good people?
How many are alive?
When will the road end and how?
When the food is no more will people yonder resort to eating each other?

In the quite times when I watch over him at night I read and I contemplate on the parallel life led in a great journey of survival on the road in a world gone to the dead in a book called The road by Cormac McCarthy.

The story rings true to what we are faced with,
everything i just mentioned of our day to day survival,
the main characters find themselves in the same dilemma.
The prose, language and simplistic storytelling communicates a story of hope and great significance,
I hoped for the father and son to reach safety and good health.
The story captivates and demands your attention in a continuing beautiful prose that provides hours of effortless reading taking you through their plight down a road that ends either in one of two fates safety or death.

Loss, death I have witnessed it
but we will not submit to it
we shall not part company we die and live together companions on this road.
The son in the story also has this want to never be parted, the tragedy they are part of bonds them forever, a closeness that could not have been a fact in the world before the darkness spread upon the earth.
I hope this struggle we are midst proves to be a lesson and aids any souls who read of this, those that find themselves too part of a struggle for survival, to not give up hope.
These two roads/journeys.
The odyssey explained here and in the novel The Road be carried forward eternally
retold in time to the masses.
For the greatness of the human endeavour, love, bond with hope against fears to survive.
We have plenty fight in us
The fire is not out!
Burning eternally in us and the characters unavoidable fates.

Shocking, harrowing and heartbreaking this story was and so is our plight if I only had more time to add to this brief accounting of mine.
As day is soon to come close I must catch only a few hours sleep,
I must watch over my son while he sleeps for safety from the walking dead.
My son must not have knowledge of this walking dead, as i wish for his heart to not beat unhealthily and his nightmares be more harrowing.
They have no rest in searching out food,
The flesh of man has never before been of such demand till now since the fallout and breakout.
Indeed we possibly are all living on borrowed time like that of the two in ‘The Road.’
The sense of another world yonder, beautiful and peaceful, beckoning and calling for our souls is a surety an inevitable end that gives me hope and the conquering over the fear of dying.

Cormac McCarthy commands the page with a lyrical style, originality and language his own trademark like that of another great writer that comes to mind who has expired but voice alive in his works, William Faulkner.
The author is a genius, a true understander and writer of the plight of the people, tragedy, love and war, hopes and fears upon this terrible beauty.
A dwelling place on borrowed time.
For us and those characters contained in ‘The Road.’

(This is a review with a different approach using a fictional voice)


Excerpts:

“Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. His hand rose and fell softly with each precious breath.”

“He lay listening to the water drip in the woods. Bedrock, this. The cold and silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth agin. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone.”

“In those first years the roads were peopled with refugees shrouded up in their clothing. Wearing masks and goggles, sitting in their rags by the side of the road like ruined aviators. Their barrows heaped with shoddy. Towing wagons or carts. Their eyes bright in their skulls. Creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland. The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all.”

“They squatted in the road and ate cold rice and cold beans that they’d cooked days ago. Already beginning to ferment. No place to make a fire that would not be seen. They slept huddled together in the rank quilts in the dark and the cold. He held the boy close to him. So thin. My heart, he said. My heart. But he knew that if he were a good father still it might well be as she said. That the boy was all that stood between him and death.”

“In a drawer he found a candle. Now 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 intense 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.”

“The land was gullied and eroded and barren. The bones of dead creatures sprawled in the washes. Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wallstuds. All of it shadowless and without feature. The road descended through a jungle of dead kudzu. A marsh where the dead reeds lay over the water. Beyond the edge of the fields the sullen haze hung over the earth and sky alike. By late afternoon it had begun to snow and they went on with the tarp over them and the wet snow hissing on the plastic.”

“They slept more and more. More than once they woke sprawled in the road like traffic victims. The sleep of death.”

“They trekked out along the crescent sweep of beach, keeping to the firmer sand below the tidewrack. They stood, their clothes flapping softly. Glass floats covered with a gray crust. The bones of seabirds. At the tide line a woven mat of weeds and the ribs of fishes in their millions stretching along the shore as far as eye could see like an isocline of death. One vast salt sepulchre. Senseless. Senseless.”



 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 09 February 2019