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The Road Hardcover – September 26, 2006
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Guest Reviewer: Dennis Lehane
Dennis Lehane, master of the hard-boiled thriller, generated a cult following with his series about private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, wowed readers with the intense and gut-wrenching Mystic River, blew fans all away with the mind-bending Shutter Island, and switches gears with Coronado, his new collection of gritty short stories (and one play).
Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work. McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries. In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith. --Dennis Lehane
The Road is now a major motion picture based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, starring Academy Award-nominee Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Enjoy these images from the film, and click the thumbnails to see larger images.
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
"...Creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland."
I neither buy nor read collections of poetry. I can count the poems I know, at least the non-limerick ones, on a single hand. I'm not a fan of poetry, and I truly see much of it as overblown, a good thing taken to a ridiculously inflated extreme. This book isn't poetry, but it's also not pure narrative. It's somewhere in the gray between, and I enjoyed every single page of it.
McCarthy had me on the 14th line when I read "granitic beast." No, I didn't have to be told this was a reference to stone. Its use here, early in the work, deliberate, familiar yet uncommon, communicated to me exactly what this book would be about, and more importantly how it would be told, and I couldn't wait to ingest it. The contemplated and intentional use of this word in this place told me of texture and color and temperature, and its context told me of fear, uncertainty, cruelty, and the close specter of menace. I was hooked before the first page was done.
I enjoyed this book's writing style immensely, its story simple and told in a manner that came to me clearly, instantly creating depth with a minimum of prose. Words like "envaccuuming," and phrases like "isocline of death" were absolutely brilliant--I bite my hand melodramatically wishing I'd written them. This highly evocative austerity was mirrored in the father's and the son's conversations, in which so little was said, but in which I was seeing absolutely clearly the cant of a head, a look in the eyes, the faintest curl of smile.Read more ›
The boy's mother is a suicide, unable to face living in a world where everything's gone gray and dead. Keep on living and you'll end up raped and murdered along with everybody else, she tells the man. The man and his son are "each the other's world entire"; they have only each other, they live for each other, and their intense love for each other will help them survive. At least for a while.
But survival in this brave new world is a dicey prospect at best; the boy and the man are subjected to sights no one should ever have to see. Every day is a scavenger hunt for food and shelter and safety from the "bad guys", the marauding gangs who enslave the weak and resort to cannibalism for lack of any other food. We are the good guys, the man assures his son. Yet in their rare encounters with other living human beings, the man resorts to primitive survivalism, refusing help to a lost child and a starving man, living only for himself and his son, who is trying to hold onto whatever humanity he has left.Read more ›
I recently read A Farewell to Arms and in many ways I was reminded of the war sections of that book while reading The Road. Not only are we looking at, in both, the ability of man to persevere even when all hope is gone, but one scene in The Road of the man considering hiding out in a barn seemed so reminiscent of a similar scene in A Farewell to Arms that I had to read it as some sort of tribute. Also we could look at the one image of hope in McCarthy's novel as also taken from Hemingway, as Jennifer Egan notes in her essay "Men at Work" from Slate.com.
The comparisons to Hemingway end there. The language of The Road may be verbose, more descriptive, but this is much bleaker than anything I've read by Hemingway. McCarthy, through repetitive struggles, similar scenes and the perpetual ash, pushes the reader into feeling some of the hopelessness felt by his characters. The lack of chapter breaks in the novel also helps to force us along. I made the mistake of often reading the book before bed and I fell asleep then with the images of burn and barren, ash-covered landscapes and the feeling that someone was always behind me, following, just out of sight.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was ordered for a college course my daughter was enrolled in. The book is required for the course and ordering from Amazon as opposed to the campus book store saved us a... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Mary C 5586
This is one of my favorite all-time books, fiction or nonfiction, of any genre or subject matter.
Rather than reinvent the wheel by echoing the praises in other reviews,... Read more
This was a compelling read.
It was kind of depressing.
I know it got a Pulitzer, but I am going with only 4 stars. As post apocalyptic tales go, I prefer Station 11.
The road by Cormac McCarthy had a rough start, mainly because it takes time to get accustomed to the unique writing style. Read morePublished 7 days ago by brandon davis
I’m a sucker for moral explorations: books that make you think about the implications of our ideas about the nature of “good. Read more
I could not put it down. It was not a pleasure to read. I even dreamed about it.
It was so well written and yet so strange.@
Seeing the movie made me think less of this book. I was hoping the book would better explain the movie... but the movie is almost word for word from the book.Published 10 days ago by Consumer