Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Book Review: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

I just finished The Road, last year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy. Most of McCarthy’s books are modern Westerns, and although The Road is written in his typical stark style, the plot is more akin to 28 Days Later than any of McCarthy's prior writing. A father and a son walk through a burned and barren world, struggling for survival as they head south to (hopefully) a warmer climate. Despite a few flashbacks, we don’t know exactly how the world ended, only that it did. All that remains are charred cities, mummified corpses, and grey skies. No more plants, no more sunshine, no more animals. The protagonists do their best to avoid other humans, many of whom turned to murder and cannibalism once the stocks of canned goods were depleted. So, yes, the setting is as bleak and depressing as hell on Earth, but at the same time, it’s a story of hope, perseverance, and the love between a father and son. The son is an especially amazing character- born after the apocalypse, he has no knowledge of our world, no society to become a part of, and no reason to be good, but he is, much to the wonder and admiration of his father.

Although The Road wasn’t my favorite of Cormac McCarthy’s works (I’m partial to the border trilogy.), it’s a great book and deserving of the Pulitzer. Certainly not for the squeamish, though- there are some vivid descriptions of atrocities most horrible. It will draw you in and punch you in the stomach at the same time. I was approaching the end of the book while riding the bus and I had to put it away until I was in the comfort of my own home. I wasn't sure if it would be heartbreaking or happy or both, but I wanted to savor the last few pages in a place other than the #10 bus. A wise decision on my part.

Now that I'm bookless, does anyone have any recommendations?


A. Dave Lewis said...

Eileen, I read THE ROAD concurrent with Don DeLillo's WHITE NOISE. The tone of the books couldn't be more different, but there was some weird, interesting synergy. Kinda post-apocalyptic vs. pre-apocalyptic -- the world that led to THE ROAD. I would recommend it highly!

hiphop said...

hey eileen! found your blog through brigita's. hope all is well - was just in boston over the holidays and read dennis lehane's "darkness, take my hand". was a quick read and i enjoyed it.

eileen said...

Hello, HH! Good to hear from you.
I already read that one..., but thanks :)

jay said...

I wasn't a huge fan of the book. Maybe it was because I read it last May while on sitting poolside in Mexico, and a book that heavy really doesnt mix with fruity drinks. If you're looking for something easy/fun to read (mystery/suspense fun books) check out The Camel Club and the two subsequent sequals by David Baldacci. The plot moves right along, but theres plenty there to keep you interested. Or try any book by Lee Child. Again, not as heavy as The Road, but fun reads (and phil owns a bunch of them so you can borrow some)