Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Publisher: Vintage Books (2007)
Where I got it: eborrowed from the library
Rating: 3 stars
A young boy and his father travel South on the road toward a warmer climate. The world is covered in ash, presumably from a gigantic fire that wiped out most of the population. You never really learn what happened to “end the world,” but you see glimpses of charred homes and bodies, some kind of cannibalistic military, lack of wildlife, making it seem like there was a combination of environmental and social crisis.
This post-apocolyptic novel is written in fairly simple prose with minimal dialogue. The whole thing comes across as very matter-of-fact, like: This is how it is. Take from it what you will. The OPPOSITE of say Nathaniel Hawthorne or George Elliot.
After being immersed in the magical reality of Swamplandia!, The Roadwas a little bland. Or so I thought until I realized I had been reading it for 5 hours IN A ROW.
The boy and his father are in quite a lot of danger on the road despite the fact they encounter only about a handful of people the entire time. The poor little kid sees things no person, let alone a child, should witness. Some of his descriptions are truly horrific–like the people locked in the basement, presumably being farmed for their flesh. *WTF*
Anyway, father and son are cold and starving pushing a cart full of essentials (like blankets) down the road toward salvation. In reality, the father has no idea what’s at the end of the road. He’s concocted this futile mission because he can’t stand to kill himself or sit still. He and his son move blindly toward a mythical place where no one is burned, cold, emaciated, or eating people.
Does it this salvation exist? Of course not, you silly optimist. I just imagine Cormac McCarthy chuckling while killing characters with his pen saying: Happy, conclusive endings are for morons!
That said, I did like this book. I probably wouldn’t read it again unless someone made me (like for a class or something), but it was engrossing. BTW you should watch this funny video: