Friday, December 19, 2008

review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

book 6 of 10 for the Book Awards II Challenge (Pulitzer Prize)

rating: 5/5
genre: post-apocalyptic fiction

This is a heavy, beautifully written story. Life on earth has essentially ended due to some undefined human-provoked catastrophe. All we know is the results - a dead, gray earth. Gray ash covering everything, gray water and gray snow. Even now, in my mind, the entire book is like life with all color removed.

There are very few characters, really only two that we know anything about. And of these two, we don't even know their names. The are "the man" and "the boy." These two together are traveling "the road." The road isn't any specific road and it doesn't really lead anywhere - they are just going toward where they hope it will be warmer and where maybe there are some other of the "good people," as the boy calls them. Their life is a dreary struggle to have food, be warm and stay safe. It's a bleak existence but the conversations between the son and the father add a welcome respite from and addition to their journey.

There is much that is disturbing along the road. Very disturbing. Images that maybe will never leave my mind. Thankfully, beneath the surface, there is more than just death. What is beautiful about this book, to me, is first and foremost the relationship between the man and the boy. The man is a loving, patient and protecting father. His love of his son and desire to somehow eke out a space for them on our dead planet made my heart ache. I tried to put myself in that situation and to live that way alone is one thing. A horrible thing, to be sure, but it's a completely different kind of suffering than to have to make your way with a child. To have to hide your fear and frustration, to not just find safety for and food for one but two. The character of "the boy" is what made this book an amazing read to me - he saw the world and their lot with such different eyes than his father, who had known what the world was before it was gray and lifeless. His grace and goodness made this an amazing story.

8 comments:

Serena said...

I read this book earlier this year, and it is definitely one of those books that will stay with you, though the images are not necessarily pleasant.

bermudaonion said...

Thanks for the review. I've heard good things about this book.

Tricia said...

I read this book and was not expecting to be as impacted or to enjoy (but, that's not exactly the right word) it as much as I did. I'm glad you thought highly of it also.

Chain Reader said...

This one is definitely haunting and unforgettable.

Veens said...

I hve been meaning to read this book :)
Your review makes me want to pick it up soon :) I will!

dennis said...

Great Review of a Great Book... probably one of the best books I have read in the past few years. At the time I read it, I was a relatively new father who had recently lost my own father - I am sure that added some to its impact on me, but still, what a great book!

meg89 said...

This is definitely going on the TBR list. Your reminds me of a short story I read in high school, "By the Waters of Babylon." I'm going to have to see if I can find it again.

Trish said...

I found many of the images in this book deeply distrubing as well--can't imagine a movie production of it! But it ended up on my top 10 list for 2008.

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