Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Somehow I always seem to come late into the game with books of note. And a lot of times the only reason my radar even picks it up is because a movie just came out that is -tada!- Based on the novel by . . . Or Based on the true story of . . . And only then does it register in my brain that a movie ever was a book to begin with. Sometimes even with a mess of awards including . . . the Pulitzer Prize? Hullo? From three years ago? Huh. I'm always the last one to find out about these things.

So, The Road by Cormac McCarthy.


Is it possible to love a book this bleak? An unnamed man and his young son are making their way on foot across a post-apocalyptic United States. They're following 'the road' south hoping to get to the coast where the conditions might be better than the burnt ash-strewn wasteland they're presently crossing. The man and the boy live off of what canned food and dried fruit they can scavenge from abandoned homesteads. They're cold. They're wet. They're hungry. They camp in hiding and avoid the Bad Guys. It's pretty bleak and there isn't much hope of it ever getting any better. But they try. They hold out for each other because each other 'is their world entire'. Everything is stripped bare in this book. Including the writing. And the only thing that is left is the love a father has for his child. Even when the traumas are coming one after the other, the father is there making sure the boy is 'okay.' Are you talking to me? Talk to me, the father says. Instinctively the father knows that silence will do more damage. If all else fails, keep the child engaged. This is parenting at its most basic.

Now, about the writing. Normally I find fractured, poetic, metaphorical writing annoying. But this author manages to get his story past my reading-tolerance gatekeepers and lodge it firmly in the I Can't Put It Down part of my brain.

Oh man, this is a good book. The movie? I haven't seen it. But I'm not sure it could do the book justice.


Anonymous said...

....hhhmmmmm the movie I found too bleak and fell asleep before the very end....sooooo my concern would be that the movie would detract from your memories of the book. Who knows...but I think you may be right on the money in terms of the movie not doing the book justice. Glad you found the book late in the game....probably added to your enjoyment of it...:)


Trish said...

Yeah the falling asleep thing! That would kinda ruin it for me. I also just really liked the quirky writing. As annoying as it was, I found it rather endearing.