The Road

Goodreads review.

Ueghhk… I did not like this book very much at all. A positive is the relatively low word count which allows a quicker read. Redeemed only because now other books nigh overwhelm me with sensuality and emotion. If you want to take this book seriously I recommend two courses; treat it as arbitrarily restricted artwork, or, as a narrative woven from the inconsistency of a schizophrenic, depressed homeless man with a kid.

So art often imposes contingent and frankly ridiculous restrictions to produce unique creations. The Road applies that method by using almost no punctuation at all. Conversations are not shown by quotation marks, which which fogs the train of thought, although conversations generally occur only to curb enthusiasm. Next limitation is the paragraphs, which often split apart what would otherwise be continuous. Explicable as art not literature, figuratively speaking this fracturing of paragraphs are climbing a cocoanut tree, there are no major branches it is simply the trunk. If you are not pleased by comparative literature, seeking to understand this as an artwork relative to other artworks will be a displeasure.

Duchamp tried to push his persona beyond the art world, and succeeded. I have heard more talk about his pisspot than about surrealism or photorealism or even romanticism. So perhaps McCarthy is trying to create a novel with reach beyond domain of literature, incorporating the system which heaps accolades upon his labours as an easy target for ridicule for those interested in simpler books or illiterate. Maybe, but I repeat, if you do not enjoy comparing literature, seeking to understand this as an artwork relative to other artworks will be a displeasure.

The second is obvious. The only bloom in these pages is fire, although this may be indicative of pyromania instead of depression. Read about Rome and surely a description of a laurel wreath will cross the page, I assume Herman Melville wrote briefly about a frangipani lei, flowers are found in Tolstoi’s works. I challenge a reader to find a single page where McCarthy’s characters whistle a little song, tell a terrible joke or anything derived from the passions (excluding of course; despair, dismay, disappointment, deviance, denial, denigration & so on, so forth). I believe Mr. Victor Frankl, a sense of purpose and humour are vital to our continued existence. The man in ‘The Road’ actively discourages his child from any dream of a better tomorrow. Page 160, sigh…

So McCarthy has built an elaborate metaphor for a depressive-type personality? A person who drags them self through day after day without purpose or humour and refusing to allow such concepts into the mind of the child in his care. What happens when a homeless man loses his trolley and all his possessions? Read this book if you would know. How does it feel to meet people who are born to die? Isn’t it a little nicer to consider the inevitability of death as ‘pretty girls make graves’ instead of, that baby in your womb is going to die as surely as if your husband were to decapitate and spit-roast it over an open fire? The ending would be more consistent with this interpretation and the overall tone of the book if the boy became a Mowgli bereft of animal tutors.

The book is tedious. No flight of fancy, no deeper purpose, not gonna get much of an experience from reading, if you share ineffable reader attributes with me. I appreciate it in the same way eating plain porridge for brekky can give one a great sense of just how smeggin’ good bacon & eggs can be.


2 thoughts on “The Road

  1. Well written review. Despite the critical praise for book I haven’t read it because the story seemed so grim. After this review I probably never will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From reading McCarthy’s Wikipedia page, it seems that the board of judges were trying to ‘keep hip’. One of his earlier works, Blood Meridian, recieves much more sympathy and caught on only after some time waiting in the wings. Be warned, Blood Meridian is long and has extended Spanish sections.

      A lot of his books have been made to films, so it is making real a certain creative potential. I am about to watch ‘The Road’ back-to-back with ‘The Book of Eli’ as, content-wise, each seems tailor-made to compare with the other.


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