The Road by Cormac McCarthy

January 11, 2012
The book The Road is a book that will keep you awake late at night, while tossing and turning with excitement in the comfort of your bed. McCarthy will fill your mind with hopelessness, and hope, joy, sorrow, vivid images and colorless landscapes. A must read, and re-read, most definitely.
The story follows a father and son as they wander, stagger, and grope their way through a burned over, crumbling America. Little moves within this demolished landscape that is smothered in ash driven by a cold wind. The snow is grey. Rivers run thickly clogged with ash and soot. The trees are black skeletons. The pair is heading for the Eastern coast with little hope of finding anything. Anything. Period. They have nothing but a pistol and a handful of bullets to defend themselves against the bands of ravenous, cannibalistic humans, who maraud the roads and heat-buckled interstates like bizarre, merciless highwaymen. And they have the ragged clothes they’re wearing and a cart of scavenged food. All they have are themselves.
But there seems to be a slight glimmer of hope or optimism shining faintly in the wind-blown grimness. All along the journey to the coast, despite the horrors and deprivations the father and son encounter, the two happen upon caches of abundance – canned meats, fruits, vegetables, clean water in a cistern, and decent clothing. This may not seem like much, but their finds shimmer like gold in the stygian atmosphere. It is remarkable that McCarthy pulls this off, a testament to his skill, while never ceasing in his relentless portrayal of hopelessness.
McCarthy pairs his language to harsh basics, to create a landscape that is so awesome in its depraved starkness, so relentless in its totally blasted horizons that he leaves the reader no room to wander, to escape the horror and shocking realistic imagery. I personally admire his writing, because he has a way of keeping you entertained, while making you curious of what will happen next. I constantly caught myself asking, “what if?”
McCarthy is one of this country’s best writers, authoring nine novels including Suttree, Cities of the Plain and No Country for Old Men. McCarthy is a well-known and respected author for his creativity in writing style, panache, and characters. One thing that I found extremely entertaining what those, although in the book, the characters are never named, you feel like you “know” them. He makes you want to know the characters, understand their feelings, and comfort them when wallowing in sorrow and hopelessness.
An example is near the end (and this is giving nothing away) when the boy is taken in by a family living near the road along the oceanfront after the death of his father:
The woman when she saw him put her arms around him. Oh, she said, I am so glad to see you. She would talk to him sometimes about God. He tried to talk to God but the best thing was to talk to his father and he did talk to him and he didn’t forget. The woman said that was all right. She said that the breath of God was his breath yet though it passes from man to man through all of time.
I personally marvel at how McCarthy ties his entire story together and the book could easily be read from back to front and around again. I look forward to reading this another time. I recommend this book to anyone interested in post-apocalyptic scenarios, survival, and an honest, articulate read. Timeless is timeless. McCarthy knows this truth well.

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alanclarke714 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 9:27 pm
This was one of the most incredible reads i've ever held in my hands
Avidreaderandwriter replied...
Sept. 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm
Dawwww! True man, and thanks
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