The Road by Cormac McCarthy

On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?

The Book

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Post-Apocalyptic | Adult Fiction
Published by Knopf
Released September 26, 2006
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars


Synopsis

This is Cormac McCarthy’s most recent book to be published. It is a post-apocalyptic tale told in a very minimalist style. By minimalistic I mean that there’s very little we actually know: McCarthy never tells us what happened to cause the mass extinction event, we don’t know the names of our two characters, we have no idea where exactly the story takes place, and we don’t know how long it’s been since the cataclysmic event happened.

What we do know is that a man and his son are trying to survive against the many, many odds that are stacked against them as they travel south in an effort to escape the brutal winters. They’re starving, sleeping on the ground, scavenging what bits and pieces they find along the way. Their world is described as gray and covered in ash. There are earthquakes and the sun is all but absent.

The Road won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, along with several other awards.


Review

The Road is my favorite book. I’ve read it every November since the first time I picked it up almost a decade ago. Despite reading it so many times, the last few pages still make me weep. This book is devasting.

The thing that a reader first picks up on is the writing style. McCarthy is not a fan of punctuation and proper grammar. You will not find any quotation marks in this book. He also leaves everything as vague as he possibly can. As I mentioned in the synopsis above, we don’t know much of anything. Throughout the book, the father is referred to as the man, and his son is the boy. They walk through towns but we are never told what town they’re in. I’ve heard a lot of people say that McCarthy’s style is off-putting, and while I do understand that, I actually really enjoy that aspect of this novel. The anonymity of the story makes me feel like it could happen to anyone. I also just love McCarthy’s overall writing style:

No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you. 

The vagueness of the setting also serves to bring the focus of the story to the relationship between father and son. They have nothing but each other. The father will do whatever it takes to keep his son alive, while the son wants to help others and is terrified of the world around him.

Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.

The characters frequently mention god and “carrying the fire,” but even the religion is vague in the story. You can read what you want to in it.

The individual scenes in The Road are mostly devasting, terrifying, sickening, and worse. I don’t want to include spoilers, but there are a few scenes that will leave you shaken, such as one that takes place in a pantry beneath a kitchen. However, much less frequent, there are also a few happy scenes that will make your heart swell, such as when they share a scavenged Coca-Cola, which the boy has never tasted before. It’s a sweet scene that breaks up the terror of their lives.

Despite how many times I’ve read this book, I still weep while reading the final few pages. The ending is depressing, and it also makes me cry for a more personal reason.

*THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS*

The man, who spends the latter part of the book coughing violently, reminds me of the couple of years before my mother died. She would also have incredibly long and disturbing coughing fits. When it happens in the book, it brings those memories back to me, and that is definitely one of the reasons this book makes me cry every single time I read it.


Verdict

I recommend this book to literally everyone. I will continue to read it every November as I’ve been doing. It’s the perfect book to read once the leaves have mostly fallen off the trees and the landscape is starting to get a wintry, barren look.


Have you read The Road? What did you think?


 



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October TBR

It’s finally October! I love this month so much. Pumpkin everything, the leaves changing color, spooky stuff everywhere, cooler weather… there’s just so much to love. The fall is a time when I always feel rejuvenated and at my happiest.

Since it’s the first day of the month, that means it’s time to put together my TBR list for the month. I doubt I’m going to be able to get through everything on the list, but I am certainly going to try! I also have a habit of picking up books on a whim, so expect this list to change a little.

Currently Reading:

Want to Read:

And then also, a healthy dose of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.

What are you planning on reading this month?


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Header image thanks to Elke Bürgin on Unsplash

Friday Favorites: Penny W

Friday Favorites is a new weekly feature that asks readers to share their favorite books. My boyfriend convinced me to start with my own, so here we are. If you would like to contribute just shoot me a message!

champagne

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m an avid reader and book blogger, when I’m not spending long hours working in a call center. I’m a huge Star Trek fan, magic delights me, and I wish I could spend all of my time in the mountains. I also collect gnomes and have the cutest cat in existence (see below for proof).

read yourself happy - cat

What type of books are you drawn to?

Definitely science fiction and fantasy, with a focus on anything post-apocalyptic. I also read a lot of contemporary fiction, classics, comic books, and scientific non-fiction. The only genre I don’t read much of is romance.

If you could spend a night hanging out with three authors, living or dead, who would you choose?

Neil Gaiman, for sure. I adore all of his books and have always wanted to meet him. Douglas Adams, because his mind worked in wonderfully weird ways. Margeret Atwood, so I can pick her brain about all of her amazing books.

Which classic or popular book do you hate?

William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. In all honesty, I should probably give this book another chance because it’s been almost a decade since I read it. However, when I read it in my tenth grade AP English class, it was one of the only books that I didn’t finish. I hated the stream of consciousness narrative, and because of this book, I’m now wary of reading anything by Faulkner.

How do you keep track of books you’ve finished and books you want to read?

I use Goodreads obsessively. It’s so easy to keep track of every single book I read, and my TBR list is out of control. I also keep a handwritten book journal to record books I’ve finished and a few little notes about them.

What are your five favorite books, and why?

  • Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is my favorite book of all time. There is so much that I love about it: the anonymity of the main characters, the perfectly written desolation and horror of their world, and the immense love between father and son. I’ve read this book at least ten times, and it always leaves me sobbing uncontrollably.
  • I stumbled upon Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance by accident when I was wandering around my high school library back in 2004. The novel takes place in India in 1975 and follows several characters as they try to live as best they can. The thing about the book that strikes me the most is simply how real and tragic the characters’ lives are. You find yourself caring about them as if they were your own family.
  • As everyone who knows me or has read this blog is aware of by now, Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. I came across The Graveyard Book in a used bookstore in Asheville, NC, and read it the same night. When I was growing up (and even now, if I’m being honest), I’ve always found myself spending a great deal of time in graveyards, whether I’m meditating, having a picnic, or just wandering around, looking for interesting tombstones. It’s no wonder, then, that this young adult novel of a boy named Nobody being raised by ghosts in an overgrown graveyard is one of my favorites. The audiobook version, read by Neil Gaiman himself, is also worth checking out.
  • My mother introduced me to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit when I was a child, and it’s been my go-to fantasy novel ever since. It’s a perfect adventure story, and simply fun to read. My mother had a beautiful green leather-bound edition, and I used to pull it out of our bookshelf periodically just to hold it and admire it. When I’m feeling down for any reason, I usually find myself wanting to reread this book, because it always leaves me feeling happy and nostalgic.
  • Finally, we come to Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. My brother introduced me to Rushdie’s work through The Satanic Verses and The Ground Beneath Her Feetboth marvelous and beautifully written works. Rushie writes very poetically, and I’ve always adored that. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, unlike many of his other books, is a very quick read, and follows the story of a father and son. The father is known for his storytelling, but one day finds he’s lost that ability. His son travels to the magical Sea of Stories to find a cure. It’s an amazing book, and one I can’t recommend enough.

Finally, leave us with your favorite bookish quote.

Wherever you go, you take yourelf with you - Neil Gaiman