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The Road (Platinum Readers Circle (Center Point)) Library Binding – Large Print, January 1, 2007
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As far as dystopian literature goes, this is quite a step.
The story of a father and his son, walking to the sea through a ravaged, cold and grey world, hoping to somehow, find a better place, doesn't leave much space for a happy ending. Bleak is truly bleak here, not a lot of silver linings!
And yet...and yet, this is a beautiful book.
The writing is fantastic, for starter. The style, with short and descriptive sentences, carries the story to perfection. It also has a poetic quality that softens what is said/described and gives it another dimension.
The real beauty of the novel isn't on the outside though, but resides inside, in the incredible bond uniting father and son, a love so deep and unconditional that it seems to erase age gap and life experience, to only focus on their desire to care for each other. This love and concomitant sense of humanity stripped to its essence, manage to give sense and meaning to their otherwise hopeless journey.
On a deeper level, it also seems to invite us to reflect on what makes a life meaningful: beyond a primal survival instinct, what makes life worth living even when there is no hope in sight? The Road's answer is that, ultimately, what matters isn't "what" makes your life, but "how" you choose to live that "what"...
Touching, heartbreaking, often times harrowing, The Road will leave you terrified and amazed.
In most of McCarthy's work the protaganist has a singular thing that seems to drive them, "their fire inside". For the father of this story "the good guys carry the fire", this thing that he finds and nourishes within his own son, at every step afraid of its extinction, and even at the end succeeds at keeping it alive in a landscape where it shouldn't even exist in the first place. And at the end of the road when he himself has lost "the fire" its enough that his son hasn't.
The book somehow captures what every parent feels for their children and no where is it more poignant than in a situation where the stark realities have driven that sentimentality to extinction in almost every other living human on the planet, or has it?
Truthfully, an astonishing read.
We see the best and worst of humanity on "The Road", as we do in the present day. Reading this, I felt a sadness for humanity about all the lessons that have not yet been learned, and a hope that we will learn them. This novel starkly shows us how important it is to protect and remember what we have. Cormac McCarthy at his best. A must read.