Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

Story summary: A man and his young boy are travelling through the dead and dreary post-apocalyptic America, barely surviving and slowly dying.

Thoughts: This was fairly tough to get through. It was bleak and relentless, and took me a very long time to read compared to most books. In some ways, there seemed very little point to reading a book like this. And yet... there are enough threads of hope throughout the story, that by the end (and especially because of the end), I could have a new perspective on the bleakness and suffering of the rest of the book.

Grade: 3 1/2 stars


Aquinas' Goose said...

I am impressed. I'm still in the middle of reading Outer Dark which is significantly shorter (although could be argued that it's more bleak than The Road)... and by "still" I mean I've been reading this thing for nearly 4 years now because it's so bleak that I can't do more than 1-2 pages at a time.

That said: McCarthy writes very Appalachian and The Road is actually a love story for his son, i.e. it is meant to demonstrate his (McCarthy's) love for his son.

RED said...

Huh, I've never read anything else by McCarthy. I didn't realize he wrote other really bleak books too.
And yes, that would make sense that it's all about his love for his son. The ending makes that especially clear.

Aquinas' Goose said...

He's written a plethora of bleak novels. Some consider him to be the heir of Faulkner and he's most famous for No Country For Old Men and All the Pretty Horses. My goal in life is to finish Outer Dark. He's a great author, except he's even darker than Faulkner and Faulkner can be pushing the limit for me at times.

RED said...

Hmm, well, I think having read The Road, I'm probably ok with not reading any more of his bleak novels. Maybe I'll watch No Country For Old Men, and leave it at that.
I might be willing to try Faulkner at some point, though. I've never read anything by him--do you have a suggestion on a good place to start?

Aquinas' Goose said...

I would recommend starting with Faulkner's short stories. All of his tales--short or novel--take place in the same imaginary Southern space, so if you don't like the shorts you probably won't get through the novels. The one that nearly every American starts with (and one I actually do enjoy) is "A Rose for Emily," my sweetheart likes "The Bear," and "Barn Burning" isn't too bad either. I've read A Light in August it's a good Southern Gothic, apocalyptic novel (it's can be a difficult book to read and don't expect to actually like any of the characters). Absalom, Absalom is generally considered his tour de force but I haven't read it yet and it's considered to be quite a bear to get through. Faulkner revolutionized the literary world due to his language (considered very radical at the time) and Absalom is really where you go to see what he does.

On the subject of Southern Gothic and shorts, you may also want to pick up some Flannery O'Connor. She and Faulkner are contemporaries and--from my perspective at least--their shorts have a similar feel. While both of them play with religious themes (without making it overly obvious) O'Conner is Catholic and many claim to find a sacramental feel in her stories. For O'Connor try "Good Country People" and "The Displaced Person."

RED said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I'd definitely rather start with short stories, I think.
And I've read a bit of Flannery O'Connor before. I liked it, but I think I'd prefer it better in a academic setting. In other words, I'd like to hear interpretations and thoughts on it, and not just read it for my own enjoyment.