Sunday, April 26, 2009
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Title: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
How it was obtained: Purchased at Borders.
Time spent on the "to read" shelf: None.
Days spent reading it: 1 day.
Why I read it: I heard that The Road was a post-apocalyptic book and that it was stark and good. That's all I need to convince me to read a book.
Brief review: I am scared to write this review because I know I cannot communicate how unbelievable I think The Road is. Cormac McCarthy may easily be one of my favorite authors ever, and I've only read this one book of his. Reading McCarthy was an experience I will not soon forget. People say he's like a cross between Hemingway and Faulkner. He's sparse with some details and conversations like Hemingway, and you feel like there's something more there. And yet, at the same time his words are almost poetic and describe the scene and situation with a beauty that I have found unmatched in the books I have read. Faulkner is often described sort of like this from what I've read about him. I have only read one Faulkner book, so I'm no expert. The writing was smooth, deep, beautiful, and powerful. At the same time there are moments in The Road that are deeply disturbing and unbelievably dark. I loved it.
The short synopsis is that The Road is about a man and his son (never named) who make their way to the West coast along a road (duh!). However they do it after an apocalyptic event, which leaves humanity in shambles. There are evil men on the road. They hunt for people to enslave and sometimes to eat. It's a stark world. But the man and boy push on bravely despite the fact that they are slowly starving and have few prospects for long term sustainability. The hope of reaching their destination is what drives them forward in the midst of great despair. They encounter hardship, loss, and unbelievable evil in their journey. But they also inspire the reader to have great hope in the power of love and loyalty. The boy is a great foil to all of the evil around him. He is loving and caring even to people he does not know. He shows great compassion and trust when the world outside has never shown him these traits. He obviously gets these lessons from his father who is jaded, but tries to teach his son how to have hope and love even in the darkest situation.
I believe The Road will be considered true literature and read in schools in the years to come. It was a gem that I hoped would be good, but did not expect to be as good as it was. It was perhaps my favorite book I have read in the last year, and definitely near the top of my top 10 books ever. I started it at 10 pm, trying to finish a little while Susan finished up a book of hers. I did not stop until almost 3 am when I finished it. I felt compelled to finish the story in one sitting, and I would definitely recommend that kind of experience to the reader if possible. There are no chapter breaks, only occasional hard paragraph breaks through the text. It is one continuous story, which is part of the driving force of this book.
I loved The Road, but must warn potential readers there are some harsh realities of evil depicted in this book. They are not glorified, but there were some very ugly moments in the book. Not for the faint of heart, but worth the read. Because in the midst of great despair there is a story of great hope as well. Just wonderful. I think there are many great Christian themes presented in this book, even if not intentionally Christian (although perhaps?). Depravity, sinfulness, hope, redemption, love, and justice all show up, just to name a few. This is a book that provokes thought and reflection. There is a great depth to the themes that are presented, and I can easily say it is worth reading and then taking time to reflect on the themes McCarthy writes about. I highly recommend.
Favorite quote: He thought each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins. As in a party game. Say the word and pass it on. So be sparing. What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not.
Stars: 5 out of 5.
Final Word: Beautiful.