Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

If I could only resist when someone said I really shouldn't do something, last Sunday and Monday would have been fine. I would have watched a little TV, maybe a movie, and cared for my ill daughter. But no. Becky had to say "You know a book you would really find interesting, but no, you really shouldn't read it. Amanda, you shouldn't. Never mind." Um, no. I can't never mind. And she handed over the name of it: The Road. She had given me a brief rundown: father and son on the road during some sort of nuclear winter...very bleak, depressing, yadda yadda yadda. I thought "Hey, I'm peak oil girl. I'm down with depressing. Gotta' embrace it, if you're gonna' face it, right?" Wrong. I shouldn't have read this book.

And mom, you DEFINITELY shouldn't read this book. You might not even want to read this review.
In short, this book IS about a man and his young son traveling along a bleak road headed towards the ocean. And when I say bleak, I mean everything's dead. Everything. No animals, dead trees, vegetation turned to ash. Oh, and did I mention the cannibals? Because, I suppose technically, some people are alive...and them's good eatin', right? I swear, I read half this book curled up in the fetal position.

With that being said, this was also an amazing story. I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer hopelessness of it all. Nathan was a little confused about why I kept muttering "I'd just kill myself...I really would..." until I explained it to him, at which point he got back to his Facebook poker game. The idea that almost all life has been wiped off the face of the planet and these two people are trying to hold on to the little shred of hope that life might go on, was inspiring. But I'd still kill myself. Like, way before the cannibals showed up.

I can definitely understand why McCarthy won the Pulitzer for this one. It is well written, engaging, and absorbing. You don't struggle with it, in a literary way. You just travel the road with these two people and see the world through their eyes. And you are transformed. Granted, you may be transformed into someone rocking in the fetal position trying to figure out how to most mercifully kill yourself and loved ones without a gun available, but it'll change you! I wouldn't wish this book on anyone looking for a good night's sleep. But, if you're curious, Dad might be able to take it (and take something away from it, too.) Enjoy!


Jackie said...

Okay...I'm really looking forward to reading about your NEXT book (the funny one)! I saw a "made for TV" movie 20+ years ago that had a similar story line. It, too, was well-done but so difficult to watch. There's still a few more weeks of summer to hit the "beach reads" list!

Dave said...

Amanda - I've read two of his books and found them both to be very good and disturbing. I'll not read this one (or "No Country For Old Men") because they stay with me too long in a bad way.

Becky said...

I TOLD you! Geesh. Hopefully now you trust my opinion enough to NOT pick up a book I DON'T recommend! But I agree with your review - great book, but very , very bleak. And yeah - I'd totally off myself before the cannibals, too.