Henrik's Reviews > The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
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May 25, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: realism, horror
Read from July 10 to 22, 2012 — I own a copy

"A work of such terrible beauty..." That's the words from the The Times' review of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. And I have no choice but to concur. This is a masterpiece, no less. And to think this is even a sort of mainstream success in our time makes it all more remarkable. And gives me a tiny hope for mankind. That such a dark work can be absorbed by modern man (yes, yes, woman too) gives me hope that we're not completely drowned in the ignorance and stupidity of reality TV and whatnot. Yet.

I won't give away details -- if you have yet to read it, or haven't seen the fine movie version starring Viggo Mortensen, I urge you to do so with a "clean mind" so the power can really get you -- but I will state that McCarthy manages the seemingly impossible: presenting a doomed real-life world (I don't think it's a spoiler to say this is, after all, a post-apocalyptic story of the darkest kind) while at the same time being a story about a father's love for his son -- probably the most gripping, sad as well as hopeful story about humanity, love and grief in the face of the bleak inevitable of existence. If I hadn't read it myself I wouldn't have believed it could be done. Less of all successfully!

I am not sure it's a proper parallel but I keep thinking this book is what Thomas Ligotti would have written if he had written "humane stories." Not really just to either authors, I suppose, but there you go.

Each page, each line, drips with poetry and despair, and I could quote just about every sentence, and it would all sound brilliant. Yes, I think it's that good. And it's wonderful to see a writer demonstrate, so deftly and masterful, that you can invoke genuine horror in a quite stripped-down language, in a tradition more Hemingway than Lovecraft. I am a stout defender of the latter, always, but that doesn't mean I cannot see the virtues of other approaches to writing. All that matters is if the writing in question is the best possible way to express what is trying to be said.

This story couldn't be told any better. Period.
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07/13/2012 page 56
18.0% "Bleak, yes, but beautiful"
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