I think anyone that knows me knows about my obsession with Cormac McCarthy XD It started 5 years ago when a fanfic friend of mine (that is an amazing writer) recommended, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and October Light by John Gardner. It’s hard to put into words the feeling that I got when I first read The Road. It was one of the most magical and inspirational events of my adult life. It completely changed the way I thought about writing. If I was limited to one book for the rest of my life, I would pick this one. I just finished my 4th read-through of it, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.
I’ll preface this review by saying that McCarthy writes poetic prose, and if you aren’t into it, you might not like it. I’ve read several of his books, and his style is characterized by long passages of poetic prose interspersed with very sparse prose. The Road is different than the others because instead of going into these long passages of poetic prose, he interweaves it through the fabric of the novel. I think that is part of what makes it more accessible than his other works. I just looked on Amazon, and they actually posted the whole thing (with the exception of the final few pages) as an excerpt. If you click on the picture to look inside you can read the whole thing for free. I’m a firm believer in supporting artists, so if you like the book I would buy it anyway to support McCarthy. This book was made into a movie, which was awesome, but the book is so much better.
Summary: Amidst the bleak and dreary setting of a post-apocalyptic world, a father and son are struggling to survive. Starvation is rampant and rules the land while cannibals lurk around every corner. At the forefront of this story is the love between a father and son as they struggle to survive, heading south on “the road,” in search of food and a better life.
Pros: The prose is lyrical and fitting of the barren landscape of the novel. It’s a compelling story, and the first time I read it, I couldn’t get through it fast enough. The love that the father has for his son is so much more powerful than the grief he faces on a daily basis. Their devotion is endearing and will tug at your heartstrings. The father is forced to make some difficult decisions, but he’s always trying to do what is best for his son. They never succumb to the evil that has consumed humanity because they carry the fire, which is a theme mentioned several times in the book. Despite everything that they go through, they never give up hope, a testament to the resilience of mankind.
Cons: For me there aren’t any cons. But for some people I think they might be a bit turned off by McCarthy’s stylized dialogue. He gets rid of all the “he said,” “she said,” and associated innuendo. The dialogue is written like this. . .
I like ice cream
I like ice cream too
Why don’t we get some ice cream
Sure, I’m feeling really hungry
It can get confusing in long passages because you don’t know who’s saying what. There are never more than two participants in the dialogue, but even still, it can be a bit difficult to read and understand. But it fits the bleak atmosphere of the story, and it contributes to his writing style. It’s also filled with angst. My sister could not get past the first few pages because it was too depressing. Also, this could be considered a pro or con depending on your tastes, but there are some very disturbing elements of horror in here.
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to everyone because it’s such a beautiful yet haunting story.
I’ll review other books as I read them. Probably one a month. I read slowly so I can absorb the prose and reflect upon the story as I go.