Lauren's Reviews > The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
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May 28, 12


This book's construction is very meta. It attempts to use sparse, stripped-down prose and bleak, emotionless dialogue to reflect a world that shares those qualities. There is a kind of brilliance to that idea, that the way we tell a story should reflect the world of the story itself, but the result of its execution is a book that's fragmentary and filled with repetition. It reads more like poetry than a coherent novel.

As poetry, I'd say it's a pretty good book. The plot is a fairly typical sort of post-apocalyptic journey, and only stops now and then to be depressing as hell, but the writing is well-done. However, there's not enough substance there to really stretch out into a whole book and earn the page count of this thing. 287 pages? No. This could have worked much better as a twenty page short story, I'm sorry to say.

McCarthy clearly has some talent, but this isn't a fun book to read. Nor, I think, does it really have some grand message to teach us. Instead, it is an experiment in the art of storytelling. Perhaps it succeeds in that respect, in being pioneering, but it fails as a novel. Maybe we should just give McCarthy some time to figure out what he wants to say with his work.

Or at least, that's what I'd have said when this book came out, but it was already popular by the time I got to it. I haven't read any of his other work since, but I hope it's better. I think it has the potential to be, even if this book was drab and difficult to get through. As an aside, I've seen the movie as well and it was even worse. It has all of the emotionlessness of this story with none of the delicate prose. Don't watch it.
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