Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Hardcover: 241 pages
Publisher: Knopf
Published Date: September 2006
FTC: bought at library book sale

Cormac McCarthy is one of those authors I've always wanted to check out.  Besides The Road, he wrote No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses, and Blood Meridian.  It seems as if he writes mainly about the western expansion period in American history.  I am absolutely fascinated with that time era - I even took a history of the American West class.  However, The Road doesn't deal with the past but the future.

My synopsis:

In the not so distant future, a father and son and traveling by foot along the road trying to get to the coast.  The world has burned.  Why? Who knows. Does it really matter?  What matters is survival and maintaining humanity.

My thoughts:

The first thing I noticed while reading The Road is the brevity of the sentences.  I'll admit that it took me a bit to switch gears to get into this kind of writing. For instance, page 14

In the morning they went on. Desolate country. A boardhide nailed to a barndoor. Ratty. Wisp of a tail. Inside the barn three bodies hanging from the rafters, dried and dusty among the wan slats of light.

See what I mean?  Some sentences aren't even sentences.  They are a word or two.  There's no chapters.  Just short paragraphs.  The father and son talk to each other but there isn't a huge amount of it.  They are just the man and the boy - no names.
While it may take a few pages to get into the rhythm of the writing, it definitely works.  The writing sucks you in.  Time ceases to exist.  Since there are no chapters there is a lack of time frame in the book and days or weeks could pass with a single sentence.  I found it absolutely absorbing.

The only only problem I had with this book is that I watched the movie a while back so I knew what to expect.  I shouldn't have done that. It totally ruined the slow build to the culmination of the story.  If you HAVE read the book or don't plan on reading it - watch the movie.  From what I remember they did an amazing job adapting the story.

I also found the story making me think a lot about life.  I just had a son - he's about 18 weeks old right now and it makes you think.  How far would you go to protect your son? If it was life or death situation, could you take the life of your child to protect him/her?  So scary.  I was fascinated with what happened to the mother of the boy.  No spoilers here - but her decision was interesting - I could totally understand and at the same time never fathom what she decided to do.

Side note: I also loved that he made the son - born after whatever happened to the world - to be such a truly good person.  While the desperate time brought out the worst in most of humanity, it was wonderful to see this little boy maintain his humanity and compassion. 

Does this book fit the RIP Challenge requirements?  Absolutely.  There was a moment when I was reading the book - completely dark bedroom with just my book light - my husband and son sleeping nearby - and I was terrified.

This book also gets me going on the NPR Top 100 Sci Fi/Fantasy list - totally agree it belongs on the list.

And because I watched the movie first, the father will always be Viggo Mortensen:

Also Reviewed By:

Medieval Bookworm

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