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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The Greek Gods Book Tag

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Time for another book tag! This one was created by Zuky at Book Bum, and I first saw it on Lori’s Bookshelf Reads. The images used are from Book Bum with Zuky’s permission.


zeus

ZEUS: KING OF THE GODS – YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK

Although I generally consider my favorite book to be Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I wanted to say something different this time around since I did another book tag recently that featured The Road.

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

For this particular question, I’m going with Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I first read this book years ago after picking it up at a thrift store, and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s a middle-grade story about a boy named Nobody Owens, aka “Bod,” who is raised by ghosts in an ancient graveyard after his family is murdered.

I’ve long been the type of person to hang out in graveyards, my favorite being Riverside Cemetary in Asheville, NC (see photos above), and because of that I just adored the setting. It’s such a whimsical, wonderful adventure story.

 

hera

 HERA: QUEEN OF THE GODS – A BADASS FEMALE CHARACTER

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I just finished reading Sabaa Tahir’s A Reaper at the Gates and it’s fresh in my mind, so I’m going with Laia for this question. The reason I love Laia so much is that she’s so realistic and multi-dimensional. When we first meet her in An Ember in the Ashes she’s frightened and meek, afraid of breaking the rules of the Martial Empire. By the end of A Reaper at the Gates, however, she’s learned how to stick up for herself and fight for her people. I love her character so much, and I can’t wait to find out the rest of the story in the fourth book in this series.

 

janus1

JANUS: GOD OF BEGINNINGS – YOUR FAVOURITE DEBUT(S)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi; great books to read; best books of 2018; read yourself happy; book review; book blog

Children of Blood and Bone is Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel, and it completely blew my mind. I finished the book with my mouth hanging open in shock, and I immediately had no idea how I’m going to wait for the sequel. The quality of this young adult fantasy novel is so high. It’s one of the best books I had the pleasure of reading in 2018.

 

athena

ATHENA: GODDESS OF WISDOM – YOUR FAVOURITE NON-FICTION BOOK

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Probably due to the fact that I’ve always been obsessed with post-apocalyptic stories and settings, nuclear disasters such as the one that happened at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 has always fascinated me. Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl is a collection of first-person accounts of the disaster and the aftermath. It’s heartbreaking and horrifying.

 

aphrodite

APHRODITE: GODDESS OF LOVE – A BOOK YOU ADORE AND RECOMMEND EVERYONE READ (OTHER THAN YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK!)

I’m selecting two books for this question because I couldn’t choose between them. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy are both written by the marvelous Makenzi Lee. The follow a pair of siblings, Monty and Felicity, on their respective adventures. Both novels are hilarious, heart-breaking, and exciting. I recommend these books to literally everyone who approaches me for book recommendations.

 

hades

HADES: GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD – AN EVIL BOOK YOU WISH DIDN’T EXIST

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I had trouble thinking of an answer for this question, so I’m going with a book series that I haven’t read but that I’ve been sick of hearing about: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. The fact that it started as Twilight fan fiction, the subject matter, everything I’ve heard about it – I’m never going to read it, and I have no desire to keep hearing about it.

 

poseidon

POSEIDON: GOD OF THE SEA & EARTHQUAKES – A BEAUTIFUL & GROUND-BREAKING BOOK

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
The Road – Cormac McCarthy

I always have to find a way to work Cormac McCarthy’s The Road into any book tag I do! Despite the novel being soul-shattering, it’s very darkly beautiful. The story follows a nameless father and son as they try to survive in the dangerous and brutal remains of our world. The love they have for one another is endless and perfect. I’ve read this book every November since I discovered it, and it always leaves my face streaked with tears.

 

apollo

APOLLO: GOD OF THE ARTS – A BEAUTIFUL BOOK COVER

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You can’t tell from the image above, but the physical copy of Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. The gold foil on the cover is perfect. I actually just picked this novel up from my local library, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

 

hypnos

HYPNOS: GOD OF SLEEP – A BOOK SO BORING YOU ALMOST FELL ASLEEP

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I admit that I haven’t read Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes since my freshman year of high school, which was well over a decade ago. While I will probably give it another try at some point, when I read it as a teenager I hated every second of it and thought it was incredibly boring. I’m not even positive that I actually finished reading it.

 

hermes

HERMES: MESSENGER OF THE GODS – A BOOK YOU SPED THROUGH

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I grew up in the Harry Potter era, and I remember how excited I was when J.K. Rowling’s final installment in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released. Despite the novel being 759 pages, I read it in a single day while throwing off every other single thing I was supposed to do that day. Needless to say, it was a pretty wonderful day.


That’s it for this fun book tag! Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts?