Jason's Reviews > The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
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's review
Feb 17, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended to Jason by: Ian Riggins
Recommended for: Anyone and everyone
Read in April, 2008

This is a book about the moral standing of Earth. I don’t care what you say about it, the harrowing romantic tale of two people lost in the post-apocalyptic wilderness; granted. But it does not stop there. It is about so much more. It is a spectacular novel and it is extremely sad. Not only because of its bleak content and its hollowness, but because of its hinting towards a depravity that could not be written about fully, because it has yet to be understood. This acknowledgement of a future with so little hope that it can be counted by the heads of two lonely people, well its too overwhelming to be realized by civilization so far.
To start off though, this dude mccarthy is a mind bending brilliant auteur, so strategically careful with his placement, but also so casual. He is so knowledgeable, but he doesn’t piss it all out like a giant of encyclopedic knowledge. His characters give impressions of being strong, sturdy central characters with a great idea about the world about them and most of all a strong keen idea about survival. That is the brilliance of his main characters, blue-collar, seemingly anonymous overmen. The good-willed nobodys who would survive the apocalypse. But there is not this burrowing gravity that lingers there either, dramatizing the strong rational directness of these brilliant men. They get caught up in the same Godotian nonsense that plagues everyone’s waking life, only in this nonexistence that suddenly has become:
In a discussion about crows flying to Mars:
What if they tried and they got half way or something and then they were too tired. Would they fall back down?
Well. They really count get half way because they’d be in space and there’s not any air in space so they wouldn’t be able to fly and besides it would be too cold and they’d freeze to death.
Anyway they wouldn’t know where Mars was.
Do we know where Mars is?
Sort of.
If we had a spaceship could we go there?
Well. If you had a really good spaceship and you had people to help you I suppose you could go.
Would there be food and stuff when you got there?
No. There’s nothing there.
They sat for a long time.

The book has a pulse being strangled. Two people dying, straight dying trying to travel cross country, plagued by a civilization completely destroyed:

There was a lingering odor of cows in the barn and he stood there thinking about cows and he realized they were extinct. Was that true? There could be a cow somewhere being fed and cared for. Could there? Fed what? Saved for what?

A lover of nature visualizes the holocaust of nature and mans subsequent holocaust when all forms of regeneration are cut off. People go insane. The man protecting his child creates this archetype of good guys versus bad guys (which is basically characterized pending on cannibalism) and is their main justification for surviving. They are the good guys, “This is what the good guys do. They keep trying. They don’t give up.

The bleakness of the book is characterized by simple, resolute statements about the end of civilization. They find a can of coca-cola and he gives it to the boy. Drink it slow, he says. This is going to be the last time I have one of these, isn’t it, the boy asks. Yes, the man says. The statements made are hidden, but they are incredibly dense with the missing hope that is so much taken advantage by in our copious successful civilization. What is a planet without god, “Where men can’t live gods fare no better.

The boy is a harbinger of guilt, an outdated cause. Survival by monkeys without a preternatural sense of survival, all that exists is the monolith of anger from 2001. What is catharsis? Emotional realizing in literature. This book is the desert of catharsis. Starving, bleak, and barely alive. It’s only points of clarity are as dry as a sweltering nothing:

“I thought so.”
“I’m sorry.”

And there is a menacing refreshment of the memories that come to haunt the man, remembering what civilization was and how or why God punished (or for that matter man punished himself) with the onslaught of a horrible de-civilization in which man has denigrated to worse than primitive form, either eating his brethren or raping or defiling him for no other purpose other to instate some form of the hierarchy lost to the evaporation of the social contract, and the defamation of anything resembling sanity:

Standing at the edge of a winter field among rough men. The boy’s age. A little older. Watching while they opened up the rocky hillside ground with pick and mattock and brought to light a great bolus of serpents perhaps a hundred in number. Collected there for a common warmth. The dull tubes of them beginning to move sluggishly in the cold hard light. Like the bowels of some great beast exposed to the day. The men poured gasoline on them and burned them alive, having no remedy for evil but only for the image of it as they conceived it to be. The burning snakes twisted horribly and some crawled burning across the floor of the grotto to illuminate its darker recesses. As they were mute there were no screams of pain and the men watched them burn and writhe and blacken in just such silence themselves and they disbanded in silence in the winter dusk each with his own thoughts to go home to their suppers.
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