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The Road

Cormac McCarthy's epic about a father and son who must survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

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'What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not.'

  • Nov 11, 2006
  • by
Rating:
+5
Cormac McCarthy has a way with words. His sentences are fragments, his punctuation is minimal. His placement of conversation on a page is as spare as the feelings that initiate it and it is offered without character identification or quotation marks. He has a gift for making landscapes visual, for describing events in the most succinct way that it is only after passing over a paragraph that the thunder strikes. Cormac McCarthy is a powerful writer.

THE ROAD is a bleak novel, one that after a few pages becomes frightening, challenging, and so ugly that the reader is tempted to stop the journey. But proceeding on with reading this work places the persistent reader in a trance-like state, wondering how such a tale will resolve. And in so many ways it doesn't end, leaving us with only inward uneasy feelings that this apocalyptic story may be all too near.

A man and his son walk through the 241 pages of this novel in a world gone wrong. Though we are never told the etiology of the destruction of the planet's surface by fire (this is McCarthy we are reading!), there is nothing left but burnt houses, corpses, barren trees, and ash - ash that penetrates everything including the lungs of our two characters but also the sea, the sky, the ground, the air, and the mood. The 'story' is the struggle to keep walking the face of the earth, always headed south where it sill be warmer, searching for means of survival. The man and his son grow even more strong as there physical stamina collapses and the degree of love and acceptance of the way things are bonds them inextricably. They occasionally encounter other live humans ('good guys' or 'bad guys') who represent challenges for the meager food supply for sustenance. As with all of McCarthy's novels we learn much about these two characters by the end of the story, not so much from shared history as just existential survival. 'Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.'

For some the novel may be just too dark to read and that is certainly understandable given the various cycles of life in which we all travel. But the ultimate result of finishing McCarthy's view of the end of the world has a strangely odd sense of hope. That is part of the author's ability to create a work that will be lasting. For this reader THE ROAD is jarringly indelible. Grady Harp, November 06

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More The Road (book) reviews
review by . November 17, 2010
Whew! THE ROAD is a draining, exhausting, bleak, gut-wrenching, bleak, fast-paced, bleak novel. Did I mention it was BLEAK?     The book is 279 pages and they fly by. I think I read the book in 4 hours...I could hardly make myself put it down. I wouldn't say I "enjoyed" reading it...but it was thoroughly gripping, as spare and uncompromising a novel as you would ever want to read.     It tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world, where the sun is never seen …
review by . February 27, 2011
posted in SF Signal
I recently finished Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD, a highly praised and award-winning novel that was made into a film that spent all of maybe two hours in theaters. It is also a novel that was appropriated by SF fandom as either "yet another SF novel not marketed as SF because publishers are afraid of the label" or "yet another mainstream author who just doesn't get it trying to write science fiction". My personal conclusion is - The Road is neither. Perhaps an analogy …
review by . November 18, 2010
Whew! THE ROAD is a draining, exhausting, bleak, gut-wrenching, bleak, fast-paced, bleak novel. Did I mention it was BLEAK?     The book is 279 pages and they fly by. I think I read the book in 4 hours...I could hardly make myself put it down. I wouldn't say I "enjoyed" reading it...but it was thoroughly gripping, as spare and uncompromising a novel as you would ever want to read.     It tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world, where the sun is never seen …
review by . July 04, 2010
There's something timeless and persistent about the dystopian novel.   Whether it's Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, or Zamyatin's We, stories detailing the consequences of losing all we know and fearing that what we've dreamed will never come to pass are a powerful lure for the popular imagination.  Humans are resilient creatures, and we take a special interest in tales which paint a picture of human fortitude in the face of daunting circumstances, …
review by . July 14, 2010
   A friend loaned me this book just before the movie came out.  He told me that it was gut-wrenching, but I don't think he could have prepared me for just how incredibly bleak this book really is.    Of course I read this book as fiction.  I didn't look for any kind of meaning or try to analyze it very much.  My friend is an English and Philosophy major, so I figure he got away more out of this than I did.   I read this book during the winter.  …
Quick Tip by . October 22, 2010
It will pull you through an emotional wringer, mess you up, wring you out, stomp on you, rewash and rewring ... read it. Understand it is an emotional journey that goes to beautiful extremes.
review by . July 02, 2010
This was probably one of the darkest and potentially depressing books I've ever read, yet the prose is so beautiful that it did not have that effect on me. I found some passages so absolutely beautiful, I had to re-read them several times just to savor them. The story takes place in a dark, burned, post-apocalyptic world and follows the lives of a father and son who are trying to stay alive, find food, and keep moving. Exactly how this apocalypse happened remains untold. Years afterward, the …
review by . June 20, 2010
It's hard to imagine our world devoid of sun, vibrant color, or plants of any kind. Yet The Road does conjur up these almost lifeless images and takes readers on a journey through such a landscape: gray, cold, hard, and wearying.  Life does exist, however, even in an environment as non-supportive as Cormac McCarthy has penned: a father and son.      The father and son are at the heart of this story, and their walk through a bleak, …
review by . September 30, 2010
Pros: Plot, control, authentic father, young son discussions.      Cons: Nothing.      The Bottom Line: Not the McCarthy to start with for a newbie, but a good read all the same.      Edited to correct some embarrassing grammatical mistakes      Imagine after the Fifth Symphony, Beethoven (whose hearing at that point allowed him to play the piano like the master he had always been) wrote a very simple, 4 minute piece …
review by . July 06, 2010
The Road is by no means a happy book, although the companionship and support displayed between a man and young boy is heartfelt and inspiring. With the bleakest outlook on survival and no food, these two are ever running, ever hiding from other's who would steal their provisions.       At times, the simplest can of pears brings more joy to the character's lives than a large sum of money would bring to most people today. The hardships endured by a young boy and the …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Wiki


The Road is a 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of a journey taken by a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unnamed cataclysm that destroyed all civilization and, apparently, most life on earth. The novel was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction in 2006.

The Road follows an unnamed father and son journeying together toward the sea for many months across a post-apocalyptic landscape, some years after a great, unexplained cataclysm. It is revealed via flashback that the boy's mother, pregnant at the time of the disaster, committed suicide after the birth of her son because of the ultimate certainty of her and her family's death by starvation or at the hands of the roving bands of cannibalistic survivors. She preferred to reclaim some semblance of power by choosing the manner of her death. The man carries a revolver with two bullets meant for protection or suicide in a worst case scenario.

Civilization has been destroyed and it seems that all life except for a dwindling population of human beings is extinct. The sun is obscured by ash and the climate is cold: "hard enough to crack stones." Plants do not grow. As the father and son travel across the landscape, they encounter horrific scenes, including an army of roving cannibals and their catamites and slaves; an infant roasting on a spit; and a basement...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0307265439
ISBN-13: 9780307265432
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Horror, Apocalypse, Science Fiction
Publisher: Knopf, Vintage
Date Published: (September 26, 2006)
Format: Novel
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