WINNER of the Pulitzer Prize 2007
Vintage International, mm pb, 286 p.
Harvard Book Review of The Road
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.I have to admit that I wasn’t terribly interested in reading this when I first heard about it. A post-apocalyptic survival story that sounded so bleak. I’ve had mixed results with the dystopian books I’ve read although it is true that I usually appreciate the ideas behind them even when I don’t particularly care for the writing itself, like Nineteen Eighty-Four or Fahrenheit 451. Well The Road certainly surprised me and exceeded my expectations. Bleak, definitely, and harsh, and depressing, but it was also moving, and compelling, set in a vivid landscape. In its own way it was a page turner.
The Road is 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.
Many people have commented on and complained about the missing quotation marks and apostrophes in the negative contractions, like dont or wont, instead of don’t or won’t etc. I noticed but it didn’t bother me at all. The lack of punctuation and McCarthy’s sparse, stark prose really added to the atmosphere created by the story, cutting to the heart of the characters and the terrible journey they are on. It’s amazing sometimes just how much can be said without saying much at all. But at the same time he had me reaching for the dictionary at times, for words such as discalced (barefoot), soffit (the underside of a part of a building), crozzled (slightly burnt), among several others.
Perhaps in the world’s destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made. Oceans, mountains. The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be. The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular. The silence. (p. 274)Beautifully-written, it’s the kind of book that deserves to be read more than once. This was also my first time to read anything by McCarthy but I’m now very interested in reading more by him.
My Rating: 4.5/5
(#9 for 2008, Book Awards Challenge #5)
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Melody's Reading Corner