The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Amazon – The Road

GoodReads – The Road

Author – Cormac McCarthy

A searing, post apocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.

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.  – Goodreads Synopsis 

Cormac McCarthy has great skill in waxing poetic during his descriptions of the bleakness of a post apocalyptic land. I mean check out this quote:

He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.” 

There are so many times during this novel that you really go to appreciate how McCarthy places you right in the thick of it. The raw telling of a survival is fantastic. What is not fantastic… is that he does not like quotation marks! As many times during the story where I felt overwhelmed at how immersive the story is, I felt equally overwhelmed when I had to think “Who the fuck said that part!? The father or the son!?”It really throws a monkey wrench into the mix when you have to pause if the dialogue is not clearly marked or if it is not flowing as it should.  I honestly thought that I had a bootlegged ebook version that I downloaded because of this, and I thought that I was going to DNF this one immediately after starting(I was very close). But… I am glad that I stuck through till the end.

Being immersed in this wasteland, you feel the emotions that the characters are going through. I love the style. I love the bleakness. I love that the characters did not even have names, and that bit really adds power to what McCarthy is portraying.  You feel happy when they find food, and you get worried when they are starving, but really what is the point? In this perverse world the only thing you are doing is just delaying the inevitable.  Every step of the way a new horror unfolds; maybe it is the cannibalistic barbarians with sex slaves in tow, or maybe it is a newborn baby on a spit roasting over a fire.

The grimdark tone is really what did it for me though. I am also a huge fan of post apocalyptic fiction too! (Especially in video games)  I did not love The Road, but it was still a good ride. I thought the ending would have been different than what turned out. I was expecting the son to die from some sickness, and that the father would have shot himself right after. (I was kind of hoping that is how it was going to end.) Either way,  the ending was still good enough for me. Now I need to go check out the movie adaptation!