The Road

My bro-in-law (he pronounces it “bra”, as per young and colloquially hip) recommended I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.  I finally picked up the novel a few weeks ago was glad I did.  It was beautiful in its desolation.

As my wife can attest, I don’t read that quickly.  Worse, I have a poor attention span and am easily distracted by projects and chores.  So it takes a really good story that appeals to my Sci-Fi and Fantasy cranial lobes to keep me reading.  The Road did that very quickly.

I already have a strong proclivity toward the last-man-on-earth sub-genre of sci-fi.  It’s always been a strange fantasy of mine, to wonder what it would be like if there were no one left on the earth, save me.  Weird little kid, I was.

Well, The Road is a post-apocalyptic tale, told in a journal style.  Oddly devoid in the prose is proper grammatical convention like punctuation marks.  The dialog is written with a slim economy.  The result feels as though you’re reading a man’s distilled thoughts on paper as he and his son are trekking across great distances to reach the coast.  They are purely in survival mode, reduced to animal instincts to prevail.

Cormac has such a tragic poetry to his writing.  I found myself re-reading whole pages just to soak it all in.  And yet  the curious triumph of the book is in what it doesn’t reveal.  There is no ultimate satisfaction of understanding what really happened to the world, how all the destruction came about.  All we know is that these two souls only have each other, and that compels them to walk the long, long road.

There’s a film adaptation coming out soon, with Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duval, and Guy Pearce  I can’t think of a better set of actors to play pivotal roles from the book.  I’m hoping the film will do justice to the story.

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