Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is one relentlessly bleak novel. It’s the story of a man and a boy walking through a post-apocalyptic landscape, trying to make their way south out of a killing winter, trying to find food enough to stay alive, and trying to avoid other survivors who are more likely than not to kill and eat them.
Darkness, despair, and futility on a stick.
To be honest, I didn’t really know what to make of The Road: It’s written in a style to make it more of a parable than a story. Things like us never finding out the man and boy’s names, never finding out what the apocalypse was, and McCarthy’s strange and to my mind pretentious quirk of leaving out the apostrophes from words like “wouldnt.” No idea what that was all about.
Unnecessary spelling issues aside, McCarthy’s prose is what makes The Road bearable. It’s sharp and honed, often poetic, rendering the story in a fugue state that accentuates the characters’ plight. Or perhaps one shouldn’t look at them as characters but as icons. Again, The Road feels like a parable. I’m really not sure what the parable is about, but if I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s about never losing faith in Deus Ex Machina.
Because I have a huge issue with the ending. This review is spoiler-free, but let’s just say McCarthy completely punked out. I put the book down really angry after I finished it. Like, kicked in the nuts angry.
Nevertheless, it’s a unique book, which all by itself makes it worth reading. And perhaps I’m over-sensitive to bad endings. It’s worth reading for the prose style alone.
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