McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage Books, 2007. Print.
Written by: Cormac McCarthy
Reviewed by: Matthew Messick
Recommended audience: Young Adult
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a story about a boy and his father walking down a seemingly endless road trying to head south to get to a warmer conditions in temperature because where they are it always rains and its deadly cold. At first the story feels almost like a zombie novel and you expect mutations of humans or any other animal to attack the two. However, what they find is actually much more disturbing. The sky is grey and ashes fall with the rain and there is nothing on the ravaged wastelands except a scaorched landscape that reminds you of a sense that nothing is moving and that life is pointless. Because all animals and plants have been destroyed, many people survive by way of cannibalism. Even still, the story is not what you might think. It’s very much focused on the relationship between a father and a son, the sense of loss, and the feelings of hopelessness. The horror of the novel is in these emotions, not in the external world. All the son and father have is a shopping cart to carry whatever loot they can scavenge as in canned food and clothing, a pistol to protect against possible road agents, and each other.
The story has many flash backs to the father’s wife also known as the son’s mother a little after the fate of the world was scorched in fire and how she was unable to come to gripes with the reality of the end of the world. They had many discussions around the idea of ending all 3 of their lives in order to avoid confronting reality. She took one path and the father took another. The story explored these deep emotions and made me ask, “how would I react?”
The father and son had no names in the book. The book never describes exactly what happened to the world. And their exact destination is really not a key aspect of the story. There were lawless bandits that stalk the road, but this too was not what made the story. It was simply an exploration of conflicting human emotions.
Book review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfHo84ng_gk
Book description/ratings: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6288.The_Road or http://bestsellers.about.com/od/fictionreviews/gr/road_mccarthy.htm
Audio Recording: https://soundcloud.com/matthewmessick/the-road-by-cormac-mccarthy