Friday, 24 August 2007

I finally succumbed .. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

It's been a dull rainy old week here, so what better time to finally turn to the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy - The Road. I've considered reading this for awhile and had high expectations, considering the number of rave reviews it has had, and the discussion I saw on The First Tuesday Book Club.

To begin with I was leaning towards disappointment. I was distracted and bogged down in technical issues of style - "why does none of his dialogue use quotations marks?", "why doesn't he use apostrophes for contractions like dont/cant, etc?". However once you are into the flow of the narrative, it seems natural and even fitting for the plot. With only two characters, you don't need to structure your dialogue so neatly, and it adds to the poetry of the whole thing.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic version of America, we are unsure of what has happened - a natural disaster, or man-made? - we simply follow the journey of a man and his child through the barren, cold and dangerous landscape. There are few people to speak of, and those they meet are either hopeless souls or marauding groups who have turned to cannabilism.

Despite what others have said, I didn't find the book particularly disturbing and I certainly didn't cry, which means I have a heart of stone apparently. I guess to me it was all so inevitable. In fact, the ending stopped well short of what I considered to be the inevitable conclusion, which is why I suppose the book has been called ultimately redemptive.

Anyway I don't really have much more to say. It is a brilliant book and well worth reading. Just don't buy the paperback edition like mine which is literally covered front,back,inside with raving quote after quote from reviewers -- it will set your expectation level too high, and it's a bit much really. Let the book speak for itself.

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