Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Publication Date: 2006
This book hit a lot of powerful notes. It focuses solely on the journey of an unnamed father and son. They’re travelling south in an attempt to escape the harsh, post-apocalyptic winters. The world has fallen apart, murderers are everywhere and food is extremely scarce. They scavenge together along the road during their journey and the father is waning both in health and spirit.
One of the things that McCarthy does very well is show the desperation that the father is feeling. He’s desperate to protect his son, to keep moving, to find shelter and food. The father is especially desperate to keep his son hopeful and good, despite his own negative influence on his son.
The son is consistently empathetic. He’s never known a world other than the deathly end-of-the-world one in which they now live. However, he’s a good soul. He has no real tolerance for force or violence and seeks the good in others. His father consistently reminds him to be vigilant, less trusting than he is. The son can’t seem to stop searching for good people.
The contrast between the two characters is striking.
There is some gore, but I didn’t find it overwhelming. That’s probably just me, though. McCarthy’s world is so barren that people resort in some cases to some very violent and disturbingly intentional cannibalism. In some cases, humans have been trapped or hunted by others. If this isn’t something you can deal with, be warned, but it isn’t overly graphic or detailed.
McCarthy does show: sometimes life is so bad that you wish you weren’t alive.
The only part I was disappointed in was the end. I enjoyed the end up until the last bit where others become involved. It wasn’t a bad ending, but I thought it was too easy and I couldn’t help but think that none of the danger posed by others seemed prevalent or to stay in the characters’ minds.
McCarthy’s narrative style is presented in short paragraphs detailing the events as they happen. The dialogue is unmarked and there is a serious, though intentional, lack of punctuation. I thought this lent quite a bit to his story. It allowed him to transition between scenes and the present and past easily. The lack of punctuation may have been distracting if it weren’t so understated. It read more like you were listening in to the conversation than like you were reading it. I liked that aspect in particular.
Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Road-Cormac-McCarthy/9780330447546