I have to admit that I had no clue “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy even existed until I watched the trailer for the movie adaptation online last fall. I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic stories and catching a glimpse of the feeling and tone of the story, even in that minute-long trailor, I knew I wanted to read the book.
“The Road” is a gritty, no-fluff story about a father and son surviving in the aftermath of a devastating event, leaving them as, seemingly, the only people left alive. This was the first book written by McCarthy that I had read and so it took me a little bit to get used to his style. First and foremost was his lack of nearly all punctuation.
As soon as I finished the last line of the book, I told my wife that she needed to read it next because “I need to talk to someone about the book, but nobody I know has read it!” She indulged me, read it and when she was finished said, in a half-joking way, “I hate you for making me read this book.” We talked about the story and we seemed to be on different pages about how the story made us feel.
I then turned to Logtar, since we typically have similar tastes for books. When he was finished reading it, he sent me an instant message saying something along the lines of, “I think I hate you now.”
Make no mistake about it, this is not a happy book, but it is one of my all-time favorites and here’s why…
The thing that captivated me the most about the story, was the constant struggle of a father and son. Being a dad myself, when I read what these two characters went through, I couldn’t help but put myself in the father’s shoes. Everything he did for the sake of his child, I wondered if I would have the courage to do myself. I found myself going to sleep at night after reading some pages, wondering if I would be resourceful enough to survive alone with a child, in the harsh conditions of that barbaric world they wandered through.
The story itself contained vague information that we all wanted to know. One of the reasons my wife didn’t care for the story was that, as readers, we never find out exactly what the hell happened to cause the devastation described in the book. This too, I felt, enhanced the story and helped us readers focus on the core subject at hand: The survival of an unlikely duo – a self-doubting, ill father and a scared, frightened little boy.
The bulk of the story is filled with anxiety, panic, hope, moments of “that would TOTALLY be my luck,” and despair. The ending is something I could spend an entire post discussing because I think it was brilliantly executed in keeping true to the overall story.
That being said, go read this book. When you’re done, come back and we can keep going. =)