Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Road by Cormac McCarthy


National Book Critic's Circle Award Finalist

A New York Times Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year
The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, The Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York, People, Rocky Mountain News, Time, The Village Voice, The Washington Post

The searing, postapocalyptic 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.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

This is the first book that I read for Dewey's Books Reading Challenge. I have some great taste, there. Let's make the first book I read incredibly depressing! Anyway, after a lot of deliberating I think I am going to write these reviews in letter format. Let's see how this goes, okay?

Dear Dewey,

I have had this book since it was made an Oprah book. I know this because of the snazzy sticker that graces the front of my book. While I have wanted to read Cormac McCarthy for years, this is the first time that I have actually done so. I guess it took the events of the last few weeks to finally interest me in some hidden treasures found on my TBR... mountain. While I have read many of the books that you read, there are still many others that I own and just have never got to.

I just read your review of this book to brainstorm just what I was going to say and it made me a little sad, but I was sad upon completion of this novel anyway! To get over this you had some chocolate chocolate chip Haagen-Dasz and watched an episode of Family Guy, so maybe I will have to do something similar. I was happy to see that we had some of the same ideas about this book. I also was often caught up with atrocious punctuation. Sometimes, I would get reading along and then there would be so many things wrong with a sentence that I would just have to stop and try and figure out what he was thinking! When I think about it, though, I am caught up in the idea that this is showing the energy that the characters had when they were speaking. The better things were going for them; the more words that they uttered. I actually loved the whole idea of this, but like you, it took me until they found the supplies to get caught up in the story. For a while, I was just reading the book to finish it and try and understand why people enjoyed it so much!

You had three things that you were wondering about in the course of the book:
1. How old is this boy?
2. What the hell happened to the world to make it
this way?
3. How did these two survive when most people are dead?
I found myself wondering about these same things. The boy would be talking or his father would be reflecting on something and I would find myself trying to picture him in my head. You came to the conclusion that he was about seven, while I was thinking about eight, so we were both on the same wavelength. I also have to admit that I found myself wondering what their names were. Especially at the end when the little boy says his father's name three times. I wondered what it was that he was saying. Not necessarily anything important to the story, just something to satisfy my own curiousity.

I am happy that I am not the only one that wasn't super fond of the ending. I will just leave it at that because there are still some people, I would think, that haven't read this book! Anyway, Dewey, thanks for reading this book and leading me to it. While I didn't love it, I didn't hate it, and I am glad that with this letter we have sort of shared the reading of it.


  1. I am really looking forward to reading this book. I will make sure I have some ice cream and a funny TV show handy after I finish.

    Your review of this book in the form of a letter to Dewey has me all teary-eyed now. This is a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman and a great review. Thank you.

  2. I want to read this book! Thanks for a great review. And I loved your review-style as well, that was a really nice touch.

  3. Literary Feline: Yeah, I was getting kind of teary-eyed myself when I was writing the review! Good thing work was dead, people would think I was crazy!

    bogsider: Thanks! I am glad that I read this book even though I didn't love it.

  4. I love the letter format, Kailana. Really love it. You know, I think it was because of Dewey's review, of what she said about the commas and apostrophes and everything, that the punctuation in this book didn't bother me.

  5. I can't remember if I knew it bothered her or not. I read her review back when she wrote it, but I waited until after I read the book to read it this time around.

  6. Kailana, I love the letter format, too. It's very fitting to be writing letters to her, since it's all about her love of books and her reviews. And whether the book was depressing or not, this was a beautiful beginning for the challenge. (I've got to read this book!)

  7. The Road is hidden somewhere in my TBR pile, but after reading your review I think I'll dig it out. Great review and the letter format is wonderful. I love the feel of this, how it seems as though you are talking directly to Dewey, fantastic :)

  8. I am glad that people don't mind the letter format. I wasn't sure how it was going to go over when I wrote that last night. I wasn't sure how I was going to do the review period until I sat down and wrote it. There was a bit of pressure because it was the first book reviewed for a bit of a touchy challenge, so I didn't want to do a terrible job! And, well the challenge doesn't officially start for another two weeks or so.

  9. This is such a perfect first review for this challenge Kailana. If the rest of this challenge is as special as this post, then I think we're in for a treat. The format was beautiful and your review was perfect. Oh, I still miss Dewey so much...I'm sure I'll continue to for awhile.

  10. Great review Kailana, and I liked the letter format. I picked this book up a couple of months ago when I read an article about the film adaptation coming out next year. I don't imagine it was an easy read, but I am looking forward to it. Thanks.

  11. I love that you reviewed this as a letter to Dewey. Perfect!
    Weird punctuation or no punctuation often bothers me but I really didn't mind it in this book.

  12. Chris: Yeah, I like the format of my review, but it made me sad to have to write it... I think this will probably be how I do all my reviews for this challenge, it just seems fitting. Unless we interview each other, of course, like I mentioned on your blog.

    mariel: No, it wasn't an easy read. I felt rather depressed after I read it, and then I wrote the review, so it was just a depressing evening all around!

    tanabata: It bothered me a bit in the beginning because I wasn't sure what he was thinking, but once the story got going and I understood his methods it worked out rather well.

  13. I read 'The Road' sometime ago. I thought about re-reading it for the Challenge but decided to read books I hadn't read before. I posted a review on my blog quite some time ago...

    Now if you want a book that messes with language read The Copper Elephant by Adam Rapp or Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban. Those will leave you scratching your head.


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