14 November, 2012

If there's one book you must read... Week #32

Book #32 -- The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Chosen by me :)

Why I think you need to read this book: I've owned this book for a few years, a cast-off of my Dad's that I began to read when it first came into my possession, however, after about 100 pages I just didn't feel like I was into it enough to finish it & so it's sat for the last few years half read on my bookshelf. Then four months ago I joined a book club & saw that October's book would be The Road. I won't lie, I wasn't thrilled about picking this book back up because when I'd first tried to read it I never felt compelled to keeping going with it. This time though I thought I'd persevere, if for no other reason than to be able to say I'd read it, and for those of you who have seen a copy of the book you'll know that this wasn't such a hard task - many of the pages having little more than 100 words on them. I realise that so far I've not exactly sold this book to you, but hang in there, it gets better. I restarted the novel & found that, if nothing else, I could get through it quickly due to the sparse word count on almost every page. Rightly or wrongly this encouraged me to keep going & in no time at all I'd sped past the point where I'd previously given up. As I read more I became engrossed in the desperate & eternally bleak story of 'the man' & 'the boy', who for reasons unbeknown to the reader are left in a post-apocalyptic world, heading South because, well, where else will they go? "The Road" is dangerous, littered with the charred corpses of people less fortunate than themselves - although depending on your outlook, the more you learn about this new world, the more you may feel they were the lucky ones, escaping through death. By the end of this 300-odd page novel I was totally captivated by the plight of these two males, 'the good guys' who never stop 'carrying the fire', waking up every morning & persevering because their lives, and each other, are all they have left. I was so emotionally involved with the two protagonists that when I finished the book I felt lost, it provoked such strong thoughts in me that since I've had bizarre dreams that I know can be directly attributed to this book. It's horrific but yet so beautiful & shows the true strength of human resolve and the love of a father for his young son. Utterly incredible.

The novel's blurb*: 'Cormac McCarthy’s tenth novel, The Road, is his most harrowing yet deeply personal work. Some unnamed catastrophe has scourged the world to a burnt-out cinder, inhabited by the last remnants of mankind and a very few surviving dogs and fungi. The sky is perpetually shrouded by dust and toxic particulates; the seasons are merely varied intensities of cold and dampness. Bands of cannibals roam the roads and inhabit what few dwellings remain intact in the woods. Through this nightmarish residue of America a haggard father and his young son attempt to flee the oncoming Appalachian winter and head towards the southern coast along carefully chosen back roads. Mummified corpses are their only benign companions, sitting in doorways and automobiles, variously impaled or displayed on pikes and tables and in cake bells, or they rise in frozen poses of horror and agony out of congealed asphalt. The boy and his father hope to avoid the marauders, reach a milder climate, and perhaps locate some remnants of civilization still worthy of that name. They possess only what they can scavenge to eat, and the rags they wear and the heat of their own bodies are all the shelter they have. A pistol with only a few bullets is their only defense besides flight. They seek the most rudimentary sort of salvation. However, in The Road, such redemption as might be permitted by their circumstances depends on the boy’s ability to sustain his own instincts for compassion and empathy in opposition to his father’s insistence upon their mutual self-interest and survival at all physical and moral costs.'
* taken from McCarthy's website: http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/works/the-road/

Like most good books, The Road was also made into a film. I watched the film after reading the book & (un)surprisingly the film isn't as good as the novel. It paints the lonely and dangerous grey world brilliantly, but it doesn't show the young boy's development & growing maturity throughout the narrative, it also misses out a few pivotal incidents which, although pretty gruesome, are needed to enhance the novel's rich tapestry of events & progressions.

I know this won't be to everyone's tastes but if you do want to read something thought provoking and, I believe, ultimately hopeful then please try The Road.

Have you read this book, or anything else by Cormac McCarthy? I suggested another of his novels, All the Pretty Horses here. Let me know what you think :)


Buy The Road from Amazon.

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