Every once in a while a book comes around that will stick with you–I’ve been lucky to find a few of those recently and this one is no exception. This is my fourth McCarthy book and while I’ve liked/loved the others maybe just as well, this is the one that I will continue to remember and think about.
I’m not sure what I can add to what others have said about the plot–and really it is quite simple so I’ll keep it short. The Road is about a father and son who are travelling south through the post-apocalyptic ruins of what used to be America. Knowing they will die in the brutal winter of where they are, they must seek out a warmer climate near the ocean. During their journey they encounter every horror of what has become of the remnants of humanity and nature. The two travel with the clothes on their back, what they can fit into a shopping cart, and a pistol with two bullets–meant for suicide.
With every other McCarthy book I’ve read, hopelessness is seemingly ubiquitous. While I think that there is plenty of hope in this book for those who search hard enough, terror and fear abound. There is a movie being released maybe this winter and I don’t think I can possibly see it after reading the book. McCarthy takes a hard look at how mankind would react if almost everything was wiped from the face of the earth. If every day was a battle to survive. The dead are everywhere–and if you aren’t dead you have to watch your back to make sure it stays that way. It is the stuff of nightmares–and I have enough of an imagination to visualize the happenings of this book without having to witness it on the big screen. Sheesh!!
What I love about McCarthy is his style. If Hemingway is terse, I think that would make McCarthy uberterse. What amazes me about McCarthy is that he says so little but draws me in just the same. Of the four I’ve read, this is by far the starkest both in terms of writing and content, but the style fits the book. While he does go into detail about certain events that happen, there is also so much not said. For instance, we have no idea what caused the apocalypse or how long it has been going on for. We know there are good guys and bad guys but not what their ultimate purpose is. Once upon a time things were normal, but we don’t know how long ago that was. For me, what was left out was just as impactful as what was said–and it certainly adds to the horror.
And then there is the relationship of the son and the father. Their conversations are all so simple and so incredibly heartbreaking. The father loves his son so much but how can he pretend that he is not just as scared as the son is. And the son, who wants to believe every word that his father says but ultimately knows that his father is sometimes lying to him in order to protect him. These are the parts that will continue to stick with me. As they would both say, “Okay.”
I have several friends who have started this book, struggled through the first 50 pages or so, and never finished. I think that one has to get into the rhythm of McCarthy’s style–and once there the book is difficult to put down. This book is haunting–it tugged at my heartstrings and punched me in the gut–but it is also a beautiful portrait of pure love.
I’m leaving on a jet plane tomorrow for Toronto!! Its been four years since I’ve been up to visit and Scott has never been so we are really excited (its actually a family trip). The weather is supposed to be gorgeous and I can’t wait! My Google Reader has been pretty quiet all week–are people on vacation? Anyway, just wanted to let you know why I won’t be around for a few days and I’ll make my rounds when I get back next week.
Don’t forget about my Farworld: Water Keep giveaway!! Click HERE to enter. I’ll draw a winner on Wednesday August 27th when I get to my computer.
Also Jeane is celebrating her blogiversary with a giveaway HERE.
And Dar is giving away a copy of One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell HERE.