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The Road Paperback – 28 March 2007
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A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
The Roadis the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
A New York Times Notable Book • One of the Best Books of the Year:The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, The Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York, People, Rocky Mountain News, Time, The Village Voice, The Washington Post
"His tale of survival and the miracle of goodness only adds to McCarthy's stature as a living master. It's gripping, frightening and, ultimately, beautiful. It might very well be the best book of the year, period." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Vivid, eloquent . . . The Road is the most readable of [McCarthy's] works, and consistently brilliant in its imagining of the posthumous condition of nature and civilization." —The New York Times Book Review
"One of McCarthy's best novels, probably his most moving and perhaps his most personal." —Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Illuminated by extraordinary tenderness. . . . Simple yet mysterious, simultaneously cryptic and crystal clear. The Road offers nothing in the way of escape or comfort. But its fearless wisdom is more indelible than reassurance could ever be." —The New York Times
"No American writer since Faulkner has wandered so willingly into the swamp waters of deviltry and redemption. . . . [McCarthy] has written this last waltz with enough elegant reserve to capture what matters most." —The Boston Globe
"We find this violent, grotesque world rendered in gorgeous, melancholic, even biblical cadences. . . . Few books can do more; few have done better. Read this book." —Rocky Mountain News
"A dark book that glows with the intensity of [McCarthy's] huge gift for language. . . . Why read this? . . . Because in its lapidary transcription of the deepest despair short of total annihilation we may ever know, this book announces the triumph of language over nothingness." —Chicago Tribune
"The love between the father and the son is one of the most profound relationships McCarthy has ever written."
—The Christian Science Monitor
"The Road is a wildly powerful and disturbing book that exposes whatever black bedrock lies beneath grief and horror. Disaster has never felt more physically and spiritually real." —Time
"The Road is the logical culmination of everything [McCarthy]'s written." —Newsweek
"There is an urgency to each page, and a raw emotional pull . . . making [The Road] easily one of the most harrowing books you'll ever encounter. . . . Once opened, [it is] nearly impossible to put down; it is as if you must keep reading in order for the characters to stay alive. . . . The Road is a deeply imagined work and harrowing no matter what your politics." —Bookforum
About the Author
Born in Rhode Island in 1933 but raised and educated in Tennesee, Cormac McCarthy is the author of a dozen previous novels and the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
- ASIN : 0307387895
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780307387899
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307387899
- Best Sellers Rank: 1,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The story jumps around like a child’s book from one scene to the next literally in paragraphs. I had no connection to the two or any environmental imagery to feed my immagination, apart from two people in the woods/a road oh a cab no truck oh here’s the trolley....ahh so boring...just stop
I’m about 50 pages in and i just cant be bothered reading anymore, what a waste of my time and effort.
Plus the binding is shocking, most of the pages have fallen out in a brief spell of heat.
Just watch the walking dead or something else, this is just so poorly written.
The film by John Hillcoat provides the "ashen land" of the book's religious, post-apocalyptic landscape with visuals congruous to the novel. Read the book, and watch the film. Enjoy.
But in these days where the Presidential Office is filled by an erratic, self-obsessed and unreflective man, McCarthy’s book seems far less fictional than might be comfortable. Less allegorical and possibly more prophetic. I hope not.
The ‘event’ some ten years ago in the past is never spelled out, but, there was a blinding flash, there were sonic reverberations, and people burned, disfigured. Some kind of nuclear winter appears to have occurred. Almost all living things have now ceased to be – vegetation, insects, birds, mammals, most humans.
Pockets of survivors, feral, cannibalistic exist in the unnamed place, somewhere in America, where the novel takes place.
The central characters are a man, and his child, a boy who is probably now 10 years old. His mother is no longer living, and why, will be revealed. The father looks back to a time before the event, before his son was born, before the world was catapulted into these dark days.
His son is his reason for living, he has been charged, he charges himself, to take care of his boy. Some years after the cataclysm, and all the available food sources (whatever there was, canned), in houses, in stores, across the world, have all been looted by whatever survivors there were. Most have long since, horribly, died, but those small bands who remain – are they people of decency and humanity, or are they those who now regard other humans merely as food, offering a few more weeks and months of survival for those who kill them?
Bleak days, little hope. And yet, McCarthy offers us a strong love, some relic of who we might have been, when we seemed to ourselves to be evolution’s finest flower. There is the tenderness and dependence of father and son upon each other, as they walk a road ‘South’ in search of warmer weather Practical tasks occupy the pages. Scavenging odd discovered stores of tinned food, clothing, rags to bind round feet, wheeling all these worldly goods in abandoned supermarket trolleys. Balancing the need for fire and warmth with the possibly dangerous signals given out by smoke.
The reader knows the father and his son are ailing, infections taking hold, breathing laboured. The outcome is bleak, cannot be good, for either. Nonetheless, there is also something about the child. He has a kind of holy innocence about him. He might be a kind of naïve fool – or the repository of human wisdom, not intellectually, but in goodness, in kindness, in tenderness and that so sullied thing ‘humanity’ Time and time again he rather sets a moral compass for the father to orientate towards
There are many, sometimes subliminal nods to religious imagery, and I thought this a kind of journey through an anti-Garden Of Eden, where nothing grows, but the child might be – possibly a new kind of ‘Adam’.
“It took two days to cross that ashen scabland. The road beyond ran along the crest of a ridge where the barren woodland fell away of every side. It’s snowing, the boy said. He looked at the sky. A single gray flake sifting down. He caught it in his hand and watched it expire there like the last host of Christendom”
McCarthy does the reader the great service of keeping a kind of ambivalence going in the story. We know how the story must end, realistically, without appeal to any kind of magic, corn, or unsatisfying tied up wrap. But, isn’t life itself something evolving? There have been earlier cataclysms which destroyed life as it was known. Didn’t other forms arise? Might a conscious, a self-conscious species, be able, some of them, to choose to be some kind of bearers of light?
I found the concepts, the far wider considerations McCarthy was presenting the reader, kept me engaged and absorbed, as did the practical details. Father and son, and particularly, that relationship between them, and the father’s memories of ‘before’ were all extremely powerful.
And, often his writing is magnificent, carrying his weighty themes, particularly in his chilling descriptions of the new, harshly wasted world
“The land was gullied and eroded and barren. The bones of dead creatures sprawled in the washes. Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wallstuds. All of it shadownless and without feature. The road descended through a jungle of dead kudzu. A marsh where the dead reeds lay over the water. Beyond the edge of the fields the sullen haze hung over earth and sky alike”
Despite these undoubted strengths I sometimes struggled with McCarthy’s writing. He has a tendency to a kind of portentous elevation, using archaic language – and then over-using it. As example, he carefully seems to want to avoid using the word ‘wash’ replacing it with ‘lave’ Using an unusual or poetic word like that, once or twice, helps the feeling of strangeness. But if every time something – hand, face, hair, knife is not washed, but is laved, it becomes grating and repetitive in a way the reader would not have noticed if the common word had been used over and again, for a common action
Still, a very powerful read indeed