Thursday, February 23, 2012
Review: "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy
The man and his son travel south with all their possessions in a shopping cart in a quest for the coast, in hopes of finding some other “good guys,” but the road is long, hard and desolate. There are precious few breaks and far too many bad guys as they try to survive and find some hope in a world where there, seemingly, is none left.
“The Road” is a bleak book – probably one of the bleakest that I’ve ever read. The prose is as gray as the world it’s set in, but at the same time compelling. I remember, years ago, watching “Pan’s Labyrinth” and saying that I knew it was a great movie because at some point, I forgot it had subtitles. I feel the same way about “The Road.” McCarthy uses no quotation marks or apostrophes, very few commas, very little punctuation at all. I thought in the first pages that it was going to drive me crazy, but about 50 pages in, I didn’t notice it anymore. I was absorbed.
The book is not all gloom and darkness. There are a few rare moments of joy to be found on the journey, though there is far more horror. The most endearing and hopeful thing about “The Road,” though, is the boy himself. He seems to represent that tiny, almost imperceptible spark of good that might still be left in a barren world. I often found myself thinking of my own son when I read about him, and how he was similar. He’d be the kid who didn’t want to kill the dog, even though we were starving, or the one who wanted to help the little boy he just glimpsed in an abandoned town, even though we didn’t have enough for ourselves. It was at times heartbreaking, yet uplifting as well.
I may be the last person in the world to get around to reading “The Road,” but I’m glad I did. If there do happen to be a few other stragglers out there reading this review, though, I highly recommend taking the journey.