Monday, 25 May 2009

Cormac McCarthy's The Road

I don't really need to say anything nice about this book, the back cover of my copy is plastered with seven complimentary quotes from reviewers, the inside front cover has a further six the inside back cover another six and the first three pages of the book have twelve more.

I feel as if I'm being bullied into liking this book.

The thing is, I did quite enjoy the read, short as it was. There are almost more words in the reviews dedicated to the book than there are in the book itself. At a rough estimate, I'd put the word count somewhere in the region of 50-60 thousand words. That's little more than the introduction if you're looking at a Stephen King novel. Really the book should stretch to around 150 pages, except my copy runs at 300 due to an awful lot of page space being taken up by a nice large font, never mind the large stretches of minimalist dialogue that could destroy rainforests with a few conversations.

The story itself is nothing new if you've read enough science fiction books. For the literary reviewers who turn their noses up at such genre fare though, I can imagine it came as something of a revelation. It's certainly an easy to read book - incredibly bleak in outlook but a palatable walk through despair rather than being a complete wallow. It does fall into a repetitive pattern of boy and father are hungry, boy and father find a source of food, boy and father eat food until it runs out, boy and father are hungry again, punctuated by boy and father try to avoid contact with people who might want to eat them. However, it's a decently told repetition and from a human perspective it feels quite truthful.

Stylistically it's quite sparse - sentences run on and on without a pause for breath, particularly when describing the actions of the characters, creating a mundane feel to their quest for survival. The dialogue is absent speech marks and in most cases attribution, but for that is easy enough to follow. Descriptions of the bleak environment are more poetic in nature, suggesting that it is here that the author's real interest lies. The best thing about The Road is watching the scenery out of the window.


CharlaBrady said...

You are a complete idiot. I love morons like you -- "I didn't like it, though, it won a Pulitzer. I must be smarter than all of the successful, well-educated literary analysts that loved this book and were able to detect symbols and undertones lost on me."

Simply put: you just don't get it because your IQ is too low. I don't expect you to have the capacity to agree. But, it is true, nonetheless. Cry into your pillow, pretender. You are not one of those you pretend to be.

Anonymous said...

@ CharlaBrady.
who are you quoting? not the reviewer. your comment has way too much vitriol considering the lukewarm criticism found here. go back to sucking on the teat of academia and leave those willing to form their own viewpoint alone.

Nick Alimonos said...

I also liked the book, but I felt it falling a bit short of greatness. You can read my review on my blog.

Micaella Lopez said...

Cormac McCarthy has written a book about a man and a boy in a world we can neither honestly imagine or explain. It is a story of profound love and a perverted hope of victory for the "good guys." I cannot escape the images that are now absorbed into my thinking and reality. You should buy and read this book.

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