Author, Book review, Cormac McCarthy, dystopian, Fiction, Picador, Publisher, Setting, USA

‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy

The_Road

Fiction – hardcover; Picador; 256 pages; 2006.

The Road is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Two travellers, a man and his young son — both unnamed — follow the road south in search of a warmer climate.

Their journey is a treacherous one. They trudge through snow, pushing a shopping cart loaded with their worldly goods, and are constantly on the look out for the predatory “bad guys” out to steal their belongings. They have a gun for protection, but the bullets have long run out.

In this rather chilly, desolate and oppressive landscape, the man and his son devote most of their time to walking and looking for food. They spend their evenings huddled under a plastic tarp, frightened that the cold will kill them.

This extraordinary, wholly believable tale is part horror, part fantasy. While nothing much seems to happen, the reader is compelled to keep turning the pages if only to find out whether the man and son willever reach their destination.

The fear resonates off the page, but so, too, does humanity. This seems ironic given the inhumane conditions in which the characters find themselves. But it is small acts of kindness by the son, who is too young to have his compassion knocked out of him, that makes the story especially moving without being sentimental.

This lack of sentimentality is aided by prose — and dialogue — that is crisp, clear and almost as anorexic as the characters it portrays. The maxim make every word count is very much apparent here.

Despite the bleak and sometimes disturbing nature of The Road, the reader reaches the final page torn between an overwhelming sense of sadness and a realisation that life means nothing without love.

7 thoughts on “‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy”

  1. McCarthy wrote “Outer Dark” many yrs ago and this sounds of a similar ilk. I think “Outer Dark” magnificent. The entire novel is a metaphor, as it sounds this one might be, for life’s pain and struggle.

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  2. It’s great to hear that McCarthy’s current writing is still good. I liked all three books in the Border Trilogy – but book two (The Crossing) remains one of the most emotionally powerful reads I’ve ever experienced.

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  3. Good review. I felt the same way about the book. Incredibly moving and, for all the horror we witness with the father and son- we’re never forced to see them lose their humanity. I too will be seeking out more of McCarthy’s works. I can’t help but have the impression I have been missing something by not reading him sooner.

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