The W's Reviews > The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
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's review
May 03, 2010

did not like it
Read on May 03, 2010

W Rating : D-

“Breathtaking,” “a work of art,” “It was at once gripping, terrifying, utterly heart-wrenching, and completely beautiful,” “The Road is a book about redemption,” “Emotionally wrenching”

All these quotes are lies, or at the very least completely wrong. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Somehow the definition of a great novel or story now is gripped in this hysteria of “painful repetition of failure” mode not allowing for anything to get through that isn’t completely bleak without any real advancement or positive movement. I am not one advocating for rainbows and butterflies in all books at all. I like stories of all kinds. I just need stories to have more than the gimmick of pain. To have a father and son on a journey to the beach surrounded by roughly twenty people (minus the caravan of rapists, pedophiles, and soldiers going who-knows-where for who-knows-what reason and why we never met them again since they were following “the road” as well is a mystery to me so why put them in except to make another reference to the bleak life and landscape our two main characters live in. Thanks Cormac! I really didn’t get it the first thirty times you said “grey” and “ash” and “dreary”. Whoops. Got a little off there…) heading down the road surrounded by terrible things followed by “The End” is not exactly “literature.”

The big three+: Plot, Characters, Setting and the gimmick-(also known as The-only-thing-to-use-and-you-get-an-instant-classic apparently)

Plot: Father and son team up to go the beach for some fun and fancy free good times! Faster than you can say “Road Trip,” these two rebels are on their way to sunny for so as to avoid and carry “the flame” which signifies and along the way discover the darkness that lurks in the heart of humanity (all twenty people) , discover the cause of our destruction , and finally end up where they were going just to have one more awesome shocker. Not so much a shocker as a “no kidding! I would never have seen that coming. Wow.” Note: The fill in the blanks are not me deleting or withholding anything. So, plot, is lacking in development. Walk, break into house, walk, break into house, walk, break into bunker, walk, break into ship, walk, and done. I know! It is all pretty groundbreaking and intense. Pulitzer must have been for the setting and characters!

Setting: Post-apocalyptic wasteland. Wow. Alrighty! Radiation: unknown. Chemical weapon residue: unknown. Volcanic eruptions due to angry, Incan monkey God: unknown. The world is ashen, grey, and cold. There is one road. The entire world is on this road. Roughly twenty people and an army of horrible people are on the road. All the time grey. “Breathtakingly” grey. Except, since the father is coughing all the time I don’t think he will be wanting to take any big deep breaths of ashen air. Grey. The world is grey. Lalalala grey grey grey. It is grey out here, papa! This leads into “work of art,” obviously not a colorful piece. Ah! The characters must be the reason for the praise and a Pulitzer! Of course.

Characters: Wow. The characters are, “Son and Papa” or “the boy and the man”. They are the same but you get two ways to know them. It’s been said that characters need depth so as to have interesting dialogue. Well, if these characters were to tip over and spill, drowning would be impossible. The dialogue sadly consists of:

Father: We have to go.
Son: Ok.
Father: Are you ok?
Son: I’m ok.
Father: Ok. We have to go. Ok?
Son: Ok.
Father: You have to talk to me, ok?
Son: Ok.
With the occasional:
Son: Papa, don’t go in there. Please!
Papa goes in.
Father: It’s ok. I’m sorry I went in there, ok? Are you ok?
And then the dialogue is copied and pasted from above.

Amazing character development happens when the father remembers the time when he filled his tub with water during what must have been the catastrophe (angry, Incan monkey God), and time he talked to his wife about suicide. And done for the dad’s past, but, hey, that is more than the son gets. The development is, apparently, to be shown during their travels. Well, “papa” still loves his son and wants to get him to the end of the road (wow look at the symbology. I believe the word you are looking for symbolism) where the son can make the future what he wants to or something. Characters aren’t so much developing or existing as they are really just plot devices, place holders if you will. It almost would have been better if Cormac copied and pasted Mr. T and a broken mop handle in for parts of “the man” and “the boy.” I swear the dialogue would have been better. The quote, “The Road is a book about redemption,” is a lie. People like to say that about books. It has become a bullshit phrase like, “Poignantly displays the human condition” I just made that shit up. No doubt it exists on some terrible book cover. No character in this novel shows a need for redemption. No character caused our drama. The angry, Incan monkey God doesn’t even show up. Ah, perhaps this “redemption” is referring to “us” the reader/humanity to show us the “way.” Well played, Cormac, well played. That was deep. Oh wait! No, it really isn’t. “Emotionally wrenching,” my ass. Mr. T would have made me cry faster than this. So, that leaves the gimmick for the Pulitzer.

Note: The Gimmick should be used as a “hook” for the reader, something to set your book apart from others. It should be used for help not to carry a novel. Seeing dead people in a murder mystery, zombies in classic works, a wizard for a detective, or anything to be different or interesting would be examples. It is not required but can be helpful.

The Gimmick: Create a story with horrific images. Check! Repetitively show images, scenes, or characters that will help push the point home that life is horrible. POW! Double Check! Make sure that your characters are of a “Lifetime” quality and the dynamic is one on the surface is deep, say… a father and son! Kaplow! Triple Check! Don’t forget to reinforce imagery with the skill of a sophomore in high school student filled with a “thesaurus raping” glee of the word “grey” HAHA! Check! That way critics can rave on your poetic-like prose.

Gimmick: Success. A "grey" success if you will...

This book was not, “ once gripping, terrifying, utterly heart-wrenching, and completely beautiful.” You need plot, characters, and a fucking point to create that type of description.

Why not cover the book in fecal matter to further reinforce the point? Life sucks. Walk a while in life looking for “redemption” and find out that life still sucks. Yea!

Sadly, this would have all been fine with me. The theme is not the problem, nor should it be people’s reason for such praise. The flaws in the novel are the lacking of all things literary to make a good story thereby a failure and completely unworthy of praise.

Oh. I almost forgot. Grey.

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Reading Progress

05/03/2010 "Listening. 1 hr. left. Not good"

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Livia But the book is so great oh sorry grey.

message 2: by Dianna (new)

Dianna You utterly hated the book, but thought it would make a good recommendation for me? meh?

The W Dianna wrote: "You utterly hated the book, but thought it would make a good recommendation for me? meh?"

I sent that to everyone so they could suffer as well.

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