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The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2008 of the 2006 publication) Mass Market Paperback – November 18, 2008


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More from Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is known for his profoundly dark fiction and masterful reflections on the nature of good and evil. Visit Amazon's Cormac McCarthy Page.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage International (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307472124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307472120
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,426 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Best known for his Border Trilogy, hailed in the San Francisco Chronicle as "an American classic to stand with the finest literary achievements of the century," Cormac McCarthy has written ten rich and often brutal novels, including the bestselling No Country for Old Men, and The Road. Profoundly dark, told in spare, searing prose, The Road is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece, one of the best books we've read this year, but in case you need a second (and expert) opinion, we asked Dennis Lehane, author of equally rich, occasionally bleak and brutal novels, to read it and give us his take. Read his glowing review below. --Daphne Durham


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



--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

McCarthy's latest novel, a frightening apocalyptic vision, is narrated by a nameless man, one of the few survivors of an unspecified civilization-ending catastrophe. He and his young son are trekking along a treacherous highway, starving and freezing, trying to avoid roving cannibal armies. The tale, and their lives, are saved from teetering over the edge of bleakness thanks to the man's fierce belief that they are "the good guys" who are preserving the light of humanity. In this stark, effective production, Stechschulte gives the father an appropriately harsh, weary voice that sways little from its numbed register except to urge on the weakening boy or soothe his fears after an encounter with barbarians. When they uncover some vestige of the former world, the man recalls its vanished wonder with an aching nostalgia that makes the listener's heart swell. Stechschulte portrays the son with a mournful, slightly breathy tone that emphasizes the child's whininess, making him much less sympathetic than his resourceful father. With no music or effects interrupting Stechschulte's carefully measured pace and gruff, straightforward delivery, McCarthy's darkly poetic prose comes alive in a way that will transfix listeners.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island. He later went to Chicago, where he worked as an auto mechanic while writing his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. The Orchard Keeper was published by Random House in 1965; McCarthy's editor there was Albert Erskine, William Faulkner's long-time editor. Before publication, McCarthy received a traveling fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which he used to travel to Ireland. In 1966 he also received the Rockefeller Foundation Grant, with which he continued to tour Europe, settling on the island of Ibiza. Here, McCarthy completed revisions of his next novel, Outer Dark. In 1967, McCarthy returned to the United States, moving to Tennessee. Outer Dark was published by Random House in 1968, and McCarthy received the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1969. His next novel, Child of God, was published in 1973. From 1974 to 1975, McCarthy worked on the screenplay for a PBS film called The Gardener's Son, which premiered in 1977. A revised version of the screenplay was later published by Ecco Press. In the late 1970s, McCarthy moved to Texas, and in 1979 published his fourth novel, Suttree, a book that had occupied his writing life on and off for twenty years. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, and published his fifth novel, Blood Meridian, in 1985. All the Pretty Horses, the first volume of The Border Trilogy, was published by Knopf in 1992. It won both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was later turned into a feature film. The Stonemason, a play that McCarthy had written in the mid-1970s and subsequently revised, was published by Ecco Press in 1994. Soon thereafter, Knopf released the second volume of The Border Trilogy, The Crossing; the third volume, Cities of the Plain, was published in 1998.McCarthy's next novel, No Country for Old Men was published in 2005. This was followed in 2006 by a novel in dramatic form, The Sunset Limited, originally performed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago and published in paperback by Vintage Books. McCarthy's most recent novel, The Road, was published in 2006 and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Photo © Derek Shapton

Customer Reviews

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See all 3,426 customer reviews
This was a really interesting book and a very scary story.
Steven Bohnenkamp
While it gives you an idea of the writing style (something many have complained about), the main issue with this book is its oversimplified plot and dialogue.
Rebecca Royer
Cormac McCarthy using a succinct, minimalistic style in his writing, nonetheless creates deep emotion and vivid imagery in his latest novel, "The Road".
Cory D. Slipman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,009 of 1,113 people found the following review helpful By Sir Charles Panther VINE VOICE on September 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
"The nights were blinding cold and casket black and the long reach of the morning had a terrible silence to it."

"...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.
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744 of 857 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on March 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Road" is a work of stunning, savage, heartbreaking beauty. Set in the post-apocalyptic hell of an unending nuclear winter, Cormac McCarthy writes about a nameless man and his young son, wandering through a world gone crazy; bleak, cold, dark, where the snow falls down gray; moving south toward the coast, looking somewhere, anywhere, for life and warmth. Nothing grows in this blasted world; people turn into cannibals to survive. We don't know if we're looking at the aftermath of a nuclear war, or maybe an extinction level event -- an asteroid or a comet; McCarthy deliberately doesn't tell us, and we come to realize it doesn't matter anyway. Whether man or nature threw a wild pitch, the world is just as dead.

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.
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544 of 674 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. Pangburn VINE VOICE on September 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THE ROAD is a tremendous achievement, multi-layered, yet with enough surface story to attract mainstream readers. It resonates with classic allusions, simple parables, endearing moments, aphorisms, even some old testament language a la BLOOD MERIDIAN. In fact all of McCarthy's earlier novels are echoed here.

As with NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, all of the doomsday clocks, both personal and communal, stop at 1:17, a reference to John 1:17 in the Book of Revelations. As with his previous novel, McCarthy names love as the one value worth living for in this vale of tears, the last thing to go.

Comic relief is provided in the form of Ely, the only named character in the book. Readers will have to judge for themselves whether they think that Ely is the prophet Elijah, Christ in ragged disguise, Buddha on the Road, or just a funny old man who speaks in koans.

THE ROAD will remind some of Jose Saramago's BLINDNESS, which won the Nobel Prize for that deserving author. Others will liken the beautiful writing to the very best of Ernest Hemingway--with the understatement one finds in BIG, TWO-HEARTED RIVER and THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.

Cliched? Not in this reader's eyes. Of course the great themes here have been rendered before in the classics, and books are made of books. I immediately recognized Homer's ghosts of hades in here, pointing and pleading and crying for help.

What is the quote in THE ROAD on page 110? "Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it." Which resonates to a quote from Marcus Aurielius, saying that a man ought to live his life as if borrowed, and that he ought to be prepared at any time to give it back, saying--here, I thank you for this life which I have had in my possession.

I found it uplifting. A testament to the condition of humanity and the nature of death and the riddle of existence. Universal themes, the greatest themes in our literature.
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