Customer Review

258 of 318 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it continues to haunt and linger, October 24, 2006
This review is from: The Road (Hardcover)
By now we all know that Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a disturbing post-apocalyptic novel centered around an unnamed man and his son and their struggle for survival. As was expected, many things in the novel are horrific yet described with McCarthy's ability to see beauty in the grotesque (it is this fact, by the way, that makes me see him as more of Southern writer than a Western one). Most of these things are known about the novel by reading the first paragraph of the many, many reviews, but none of these things have anything to do with what makes the novel good or bad to me.

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.

If we measure a book by its staying power, the way it continues to haunt and linger, The Road surpasses many other books. If I'm asked, though, whether I "like" the book, I might not be able to answer convincingly in the affirmative.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 28, 2009 9:48:38 PM PST
Michael says:
I definitely agree with you. I could tell someone that it was "moving," or that it was "powerful," but not that I liked it. I also don't think I would ever go so far as to endorse the book by recommending that someone else read it. Certainly it was interesting and compelling, but those weren't enough.

This really doesn't have anything to do with your review, but did the end feel like a cop-out to anyone else? It was too convenient for the boy to be saved so soon, and it wasn't really believable. For the last 50 pages of the book, I kept hoping that "hope" would be worked into the book. Unfortunately, it felt like that hope was simply thrown in during the last two pages because it was necessary, not because it actually belonged.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 29, 2009 3:01:56 AM PDT
Sometime Reader - please read the book again. You don't seem to understand the ending. The group of travelers who found the boy had been following the boy and his father for quite some time.

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2009 12:42:51 PM PDT
S. Rousseau says:
Yes, I agree. We caught a glimpse of them , the people at the end, earlier in the book. Also, perhaps one can't say that one liked this book but could I respond in the affirmative that I would consider it a worthwhile read? Yes. It was recommended to me by my son, a high school English teacher,
who planned to make it required reading by his 11th grade class. I had never read anything by him before (had seen 'No Country for Old Men') but immediately ordered four more of his books. I shall assume they are all rather dark, but I am hooked by his style and what he has to say. I had the same reaction to the end of this book as I did to the movie NCFOM. Stunned silence, then just, wow. Not "WOW! " but, wow.

Posted on Oct 3, 2009 6:55:44 AM PDT
I have read all kinds of books all my life. When other kids were out playing, i'd be snuggled up somewhere reading; Reading anything and every thing. However, I have never read a book that has stayed with me so vividly. Cormac Mccarthy has a way of reaching out and pulling you into his book, The Road, and holding you captive until the end, and still three years later, I am still haunted by the struggle, hunger, and utter loss of hope that runs throughout this book. The one redeeming quality of this book is the man's love for his son, and his fight to keep them both going. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a book to grab them by the neck and hold their attention through out the book and to keep them thinking about it . You know from reading the book that some kind of earth shaking horrible thing, (Nuclear war bomb type of thing) has happened, and as a result there is no food or water, and very few people to be found, and the people that are still around are fighting for the few scraps of food and water to be foumd. The few remainig people have become animalistic in their struggle for survival. The father is sick and worried about leaving his son alone to fend for himself. You can feel the father's fear and exhaustion all through the book. This book will make you realize how much we havve, and how quickly things could change, and why the fight to keep nuclear weapons away from everyone, because in the end even basic humanity is lost in the fight for survival. I have not been able to get this book out of my head. This is a powerful book written by an amazing author. Bravo! Mr Cormac.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 3, 2009 7:10:08 AM PDT
I just wrote the review about The Road that you are refering to, and I felt the same way about the ending; that it came too soon, as though Mr. McCarthy is tired of the book by this point, and just wants to be done with the book. I loved the book all the way through because it did grab me and hold

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 19, 2009 9:09:25 AM PDT
Cindy says:
I didn't think the end was a cop out. We don't know for sure that the man who came along was really a "good guy"; he just said he was. And when he said he had a family I wondered if, perhaps, his son was the boy who had been seen in the window earlier in their journey and now the two boys would be united. If you think about it the story wasn't really all tied up in a bow at the end.

Posted on Nov 19, 2009 6:20:20 PM PST
J. Clemons says:
I'm not sure you are aware that McCarthy is a "southern writer": his first 4 books were set in the south. Rather weirdly, most professional writers evaluate McCarthy's work by beginning with Blood Meridian, totally ignoring his powerful first four novels. In fact, Sutree, set in Tennessee, is his best novel, with All The Pretty Horses a close second. Blood Meridian has a cinematic quality to it that appeals to today's reviewers and readers who have been raisedon t.v. and the movies. Unfortunately, people have a need to reductively label writers as an urban writer or a southern gothic writer or a Christian writer.

The finest American fiction writer of the 20th century is Flannery O' Connor (underread and underpraised)who is pigeonholed as a Southern Christian writer when each of her stories and her two novels needs to be considered and evaluated on its own, without the easy compartmentalizing of O' Connor to guide the reader. Certainly, knowing something about her background is helpful, but only to those who have the intelligence to use her background reticently.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2010 11:43:46 PM PST
I disagree... if the group that saved the boy were the "bad guys" they would've eaten their dog long ago. Instead, they continued to care for the dog. I do think that the end was thrown in rather quickly and was a little hard to believe. However, the book did leave a deep imprint on me, and like many of the other readers here, I think I'll remember this book for the rest of my life.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 12, 2010 10:03:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 16, 2010 12:39:04 PM PDT
scarlettudor says:
WARNING ~ SPOILERS

All the way through the book, I was dreading a hopeless ending. I was glad that there was at least a partial happy ending, because I really came to 'care' for these two characters, the boy and his father, through the book.

I also wondered about the quick ending, when the 'good guys' picked up the boy, with whom he would have playmates, a gentle mother figure who would talk to him about God, strong male figures to protect him.

My question is, why didn't they approach the man and his son before? They saw them go to the brink of starvation and then, providentially, something came up to save them. But not the people following them. Were they judging them? Was the father somehow judged not civilized enough or 'good' enough or somehow not up to their standards? Why did they just reveal themselves to the boy when the father died?

I feel there is more to this book than any of us are getting. I think that's what makes it a great book, rather than a good book. It will keep us wondering and remembering it for many years..

Posted on Aug 24, 2010 11:11:23 AM PDT
#1 Thanks for the 3 star rating. In most of the Amazon world, nothing less than 5 stars is acceptable. 3 stars says "It's okay but ..."
#2 I concur with your rating because it is hare to be enthusiastic about this book. Sure it is well written, but it is also unremittingly bleak. (I also agree with comments that the ending ... which isn't all that upbeat, nonetheless is in a more hopeful tone than the rest of the book - and yet given the rest of the book there is no reason to believe that there is anything like hope in this barren world.) I guess comes down to what one wants out of a read. Other than getting a sense of a bare, stark primal struggle I didn't get much here. Good writing to no particular end. Yes, it created an impression but then so does a car accident.
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