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Monday, April 28, 2008

The Road

The Road

Cormac McCarthy

Vintage International (2006)

“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, excerpt from rear cover sleeve]


The Road is Cormac McCarthy’s tenth, and most recently published novel (2006). It is, without any doubt, my favorite piece of literature I’ve discovered this year. It is also the most thought-provoking work I’ve become entranced with in some time. Once you have entered into McCarthy’s frightening masterpiece here, you will never forget it.

The story follows a father and son, through a crude, life and death struggle in a bleak, and terrifying, post-apocalyptic world. The situations they encounter along this road reveal what man is truly capable of when stripped of his moral boundaries.

There is a stark, yet unexpected, sense of realism that the author portrays for the reader in this achromatic world. The author masterfully strips away the names of the primary characters the reader becomes immediately entrenched with. The vivid imagery we see of our present world--nature and man’s presence in it--is reduced to an ashen, almost hopeless non-existence. When the father and son encounter what few humans are left in this shrouded world, they see how man will go to almost any lengths for survival--no matter how depraved. Once civilization is reduced to almost nothing, the line of distinction between man and beast becomes nightmarishly blurry.

Though many of the author’s images will brand themselves into your memory, one glimpse of hope I encountered in this book has yet to leave my mind:

“There is no prophet in the earth’s long chronicle who’s not honored here today. Whatever form you spoke of you were right.”

This story will haunt you, and it will burn itself into your consciousness. It won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Literature, and Cormac McCarthy truly merits this accomplishment from his creation here.