Barnaby Thieme's Reviews > The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
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's review
Mar 23, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: literature
Read in March, 2009 , read count: 1

I read The Road in three days -- it's that kind of book. It's bleak, but somehow not depressing. The world it describes is lifeless and gray, and even the most horrific things the characters experience landed with a kind of dull, numb thud. It's a fascinating and disturbing book, and beautifully written. McCarthy is definitely an author who carries the torch of the American novel.

Footnote: Ironically, I read this book in part to be sure I saw it before the John Hillcoat film version came out, but having read it, I'm now extremely reluctant to see it -- I think it's unfilmable.


Update: Just stumbled across this old review, and with a few more McCarthy novels under my belt and more benefit of hindsight, I'd probably ding it a star or two for its characterization of human nature. I had not realized when I read "The Road" how central feverish nihilism is to McCarthy's entire oeuvre - his conviction that civilization is a thin, fragile veneer that barely holds people in check from behaving as the horrifying monsters they truly are by nature.

His vision is like the atheist's version of a Jonathan Edwards sermon. I simply don't see humans in that light, or at least I think it's only part of the story. The degree to which he's consumed by the darkest reaches of human nature leaves me nonplussed and a bit repelled. Like the only reason you're not out there eating people's faces right now is because of society. Does that seem right to you?
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02/18 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Rob (new)

Rob The 'like' is for the update. I cannot bring myself to read his stuff for the very reasons you state here and in a comment you made on someone else's recent review of a McCarthy book (maybe Tim? -if there was a Like button for comments I would have 'liked' that comment).

message 2: by Rob (new)

Rob PS - your comparing his vision to a Jonathan Edward's sermon made me smile. Kind of a sad smile but a smile nevertheless...

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