The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Title – The Road
Author – Cormac McCarthy
Publisher – Vintage Books, 2007, 287 pgs
Purchased Used

Book Summary (from Amazon)
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind.  It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray.  The sky is dark.  Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there.  They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other.  The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey.  It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love.  Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

My Summary
The man and the boy are cold. Hungry. Cold. Tired. Hungry. Walking in ash. Fearing cannibals. Hungry. Tired. Cold. Hiding from Cannibals. Hungry. Cold. Repeat ad nauseum.

I did not enjoy this book at all. Part of the problem could be that it wasn’t what I was expecting – The Passage was frequently compared to The Road in reviews – but I don’t think a different mindset would have made it more entertaining for me.

I need a plot. Or character development. Essentially I need something in the book to change/happen between page ten and page 280. The Road is a quick read – at 287 pages it isn’t a monster and there are frequently large spaces between paragraphs – but also an extremely tedious read. Boredom ensued for the three to four hours I read The Road.

McCarthy uses short sentences or fragments frequently to drive home the desolation of the landscape, but for me this just destroyed any chance of developing a reading flow. As a consequence, I never connected emotionally with the characters so I didn’t care what happened to them.  In addition, the only punctuation used are periods – no quotation marks for conversations, few commas and intermittent use of apostrophes.  None of the characters have names and in several paragraphs two separate people are referred to as “he” so it’s hard to determine what is happening.

Since reading it I have read several other reviews – 99% of them glowing.  The Road is described as a “Masterpiece” and “Profound”.  The worst adjective used to describe The Road is depressing.  I wish I had found The Road depressing. That’s at least an emotion.  I was just bored.   I do think it would make a decent short story.  My advice – read the first 20 pages and the last 20 pages.  You won’t be missing anything. 

Rating

3 out of 10 stars (1st star is default, 2nd star is cause I finished it, 3rd star is because the ending is thought provoking.)

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