The Road by Cormac McCarthy

theroad

Vintage International, 2006. ISBN: 978-0-307-38789-9

Summary, from back of book:
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food- and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, The Road is an unflinching meditation on the worse and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

My thoughts:
The Road is an empty, yet heralded novel about the least interesting characters of an otherwise attractive plot situation. The Road is a boring read, as it lacks essential descriptions and exposition. The author expects the reader to “be in the know” with what happened to the world, and how it came to be. While The Road had potential, this book is an example of how an author can get away with poor writing and be thought of as the creator of a “moving story of a journey.”

My biggest problem with The Road is that it is fake deep. It tries to be a great book, but fails. There is no lesson or moral to be learned. The book is pretentious for expecting the reader to understand with the minimal face-value information it holds. The style of writing is an obtuse choice- in a situation where description is the most important ingredient, there is such a lack that the reader feels like they are reaching into a grey and ashy void. I can’t believe this book was selected for a Pulitzer, or even the Oprah Book Club. At first, the book appears as if it will hold a great lesson on love in times of struggle, but it has no lesson. The events do not appear to teach the characters anything- the protagonists continue to make the same mistakes, and the reader continues to wonder why.

I really hated The Road. I kept reading out of spite- I wanted to know why so many people think this book is great, but I was left feeling unsatisfied. I have read books where there is purposeful Spartan style, but here, it feels lazy. The choice of words and events is repetitive, lacking any symbolic or significant meaning. I had so many questions that I resorted to checking Google for answers and was disappointed when I saw so many other readers outraged by the same problems. I hate this book on a level of hating The Catcher in the Rye. It’s loathsome how a book expects me to just know about the state of the world when I very obviously do not. The Road had the chance to open up a vision of post-apocalyptic America, but it shuttered me out with presuming that I had the same level of knowledge as the author.

Aside from this complaining, I have nothing else to say. I was disappointed. This is definitely a book that will not stay on my shelves. I think this is the first book I have hated since reading The Catcher in the Rye as a high-school student! I don’t think I will peruse any more of McCarthy’s works. If this were to be his masterpiece, then I can’t expect anything out of his other books.

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