The Road – Cormac McCarthy
February 3, 2010 § 20 Comments
He said the right dreams for a man in peril were dreams of peril and all else was the call of languor and death.
A story about a father and son as they travel together in a dead, ashen world, The Road is a book that has to be read slowly, without hurry, and left to linger between paragraphs just so we have time to absorb whatever little is told to us, and imagine in our own heads what is not.
I really don’t know if I’ve read any other book as depressing as this one. Everything was just so dark, so completely hopeless. There was nothing fancy about the language McCarthy chose to use, and there was just nothing to be anticipated. Reading the book was like being sucked into this really dark gloomy place; you want to claw your way out of that black abyss, but the thick darkness embraces you in a very weird, twisted sort of way.
The names of things slowly following those things into oblivion. Colors. The names of birds. Things to eat. Finally the names of things one believed to be true. More fragile than he would have thought.
The book is about a journey that the father and son take, but somehow, I almost felt like the journey didn’t matter as much as the relationship between them. I almost didn’t care what was waiting for them at their next stop, I didn’t care if they would find food or shelter or wood for fire. I didn’t care for those things, unless it would mean something to their relationship.
The story is told mainly from the father’s perspective. We’re told what the man is thinking, what he does when the boy is sleeping, and what he dreams about. But interestingly, it is not the man, but the boy who becomes the focus of the story. As I read the book, I started to feel like I was choosing sides. I began to feel what the boy might be feeling, although we are never once told about it. When I read about what the man is doing, I’m thinking about what the boy might be thinking. When the boy says ‘Okay,’ I’m thinking of the many different emotions that he could be experiencing.
But when he bent to see into the boy’s face under the hood of the blanket he very much feared that something was gone that could not be put right again.
In the end, I don’t think I really followed them in their physical journey. But I definitely felt the connection. McCarthy wrote this book in such a way that what he didn’t tell became the most important part of the whole story. I don’t know how he did that. The writing style was a little difficult to adapt to in the beginning, but once I got used to it, I was taken on a journey on the emotional level.
There were times when he sat watching the boy sleep that he would begin to sob uncontrollably but it wasnt about death. He wasnt sure what it was about but he thought it was about beauty or goodness. Things that he’d no longer any way to think about at all.