by Cormac McCarthy
I read this book in nearly one sitting. It sucked me dry, and left me with an indescribable sense of stillness.
McCarthy’s vision of a burned and wasted country was frightening at times, and yet (and this came in stark contrast to certain aspects of Virginia Woolf’s view of things in The Waves) the tenderness and connectedness of the man and the boy, traveling with desperate determination down the road toward the sea, was astonishingly beautiful.
I read the book because we are playing the recently released movie adaptation at the theater where I work this weekend, and I intend to see it. I was warned by people who had read and liked it, as well as by a few who had wanted to slit their wrists after reading the book, that it was depressing beyond all words. I did not find this to be the case at all.
Certainly there are horrifying aspects to a post-apocalypse story where the survival of the main characters seems highly doubtful. I couldn’t help flinching at some points, but I was newly impressed with McCarthy’s unflinching examination of the very best and worst in human nature. The heros of his tale were so imperfect and real, and his landscape was sketched in such vibrant black and gray. It made me ache, made tears come to my eyes, but it didn’t depress me.
I felt a profound sense of release when I finished The Road, but it was an exquisite moment – a long sigh of wind across an empty plain.
This is brilliant writing. I can’t imagine how the movie will capture even half of the emotional impact, but I am still willing to see what it manages. I am reminded that I want to read more McCarthy, but there needs to be a wide space between my experiences of his books! For now, The Road is enough.