Book 15: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

February 11, 2009 at 12:51 am (Review) (, , , , )

The Road is a work of genius. It represents the gold standard of storytelling. It is, like all the best stories, a simple story well told. It tells of a father and son walking a road in a post apocalyptic world and that is all. McCarthy writes without ever using so much as an extraneous syllable and because of that The Road is beautiful. 

The relationship between father and son is drawn out in sparse moments that rely as much on what they are not saying as much as what they are. It is in these moments that the grace of the book lies. It could be cold without this perfectly drafted relationship. As you read you realise that you haven’t taken a breath for a few minutes as you wait with the protagonists for danger to pass. You will be wholly immersed in their world and relationship.

The complexity of the ideas that McCarthy touches on is all the more impressive given the simplicity of the writing. So often writers of the big ideas novel feel the need to hammer home the point with heavy prose it is to his enduring credit that The Road never reads like a big ideas novel. It’s only after reading as you think about it (and I assure you that this will stay with you for weeks) you realise that he addresses issues like the nature of society, what it is to love without condition, what it is to be a parent, and that he says something of value about each one. More than any other McCarthy explores the importance of hope and how when all else fails us it is hope that will get us through, maybe. 

I cannot recommend this strongly enough. You will walk away breathless and uplifted.


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