In 2008 I picked up a copy of The Road and I hated it. In fact I didn’t even finish it. I found it boring and repetitive, a book that was aimless.
One thing I learnt from the 1001 books challenge I undertook from 2010 to 2012 is that a reread is very good at changing a perspective and so I kept The Road for that moment when I would pick it up again, or to be more specific, fate did, as I have a TBR jar.
Last weekend the jar chose it and despite some initial dread, I started to read it and was hooked. I just love it when a book absorbs me to such an extent that I’m trying to sneak a couple of pages when possible.
The story itself takes place in a post apocalyptic land where a father and his son are travelling down a road in order to settle in a better climate. This wasteland is desolate. Most houses are pillaged, grocery stores have been ransacked and there are people just hunting to destroy both humans and materials.
However the real story is the bond between the father and son, how the son trusts his father, no matter the situation. It seems that this boy is the only beacon of honesty in a corrupt world; he wants to share his rations, he gets upset when people are killed and throughout the whole book he constantly wants reassurance that they are the good guys and that his father will take care of him. Does the father reciprocate his son’s love? in some ways he does in other ways, especially food, he tends to put himself before while his son is completely selfless.
Unlike Blood Meridian or All the Pretty Horses, McCarthy’s typical descriptions of physical violence are toned down, with two disturbing scenes but the obstacles encountered while the father and son are undertaking their quest is cruel in itself, ranging from freakish storms to battling crippling hunger.
Cormac McCarthy knows how to make something ugly into a beautiful read. At times the dialogue is poetic, sometimes the descriptions of snow falling are realistic and not to mention the suffering the two protagonists undergo just prove that McCarthy knows how to make words stir emotions, and just wait until the ending.
Although the term is used a lot (and I fall victim to this) I really can’t say anything else other than that The Road is a true masterpiece of post modern fiction.