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The Road
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June 2013 - The Road > The Road - Overall Impressions

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Ryan Lawler (ryanie) | 35 comments Mod
So what are your final thoughts about this book. Did it meet your expectations? Would you read another Cormac McCarthy book?

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 6 comments I'm one of the people you mentioned in your email as being "turned off" by this book - and no I wouln't buy/read any other Cormac McCarthy book. It wasn't just that it was dark and bleak but that it was (imo) lacking on every score that a traditional novel could be ranked on.

message 3: by Ryan (last edited Jun 17, 2013 10:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ryan Lawler (ryanie) | 35 comments Mod
Okay so finished this book a couple of days ago (ironically in one sitting on a long road trip), and I've had a chance to let it digest. I don't know if I enjoyed it - this not a story designed to entertain - but I was certainly fascinated and moved to thought by it.

So first of all, this is not a fun book. It is a tragic exploration of a dystopian / post-apocalyptic world, documenting the struggle to move forward in the face of overwhelming hopelessness. It's not a cautionary tale, it's not really an allegory for anything, it is straight up a survival story with the importance of life being the central theme.

Why is it that the father chooses to go on? Despite the fact that he is dying, that there is barely anyone left, that he and his son are always starving, he cannot bring himself to consider suicide. He cannot bring himself to consider cannibalism. Right up until the very end, when his body gives out and he cannot go any further, he is moving forward in the hope that there is something better out there, and he only ever encourages his son to do the same. How much strength did that take? How much did he value his life and the life of his son? Would you have the strength to do the same?

A lot of people comment about the writing style, and it took a few pages for me to adjust. The prose is not something I can measure against what is "traditional" - for me the prose is part of the story rather than just telling the story. There is an economy of words, even an economy of thought, which parallels the survival elements of The Road.

What really worked for me was the dialogue, and I think it represented exactly what the road was about. No unnecessary speech, no dialogue tags, not even any quotation marks to indicate that dialogue is taking place. You don't need any tags to tell who is saying what, you don't need any tags to help describe how they are saying it. The few sharp words between father and son say much more than the dialogue tags could.
The man was trying to kill us. Wasnt he.
Yes. He was.
Did you kill him?
Is that the truth?
Is that all right?
I thought you didnt want to talk?
I dont.

The Road is not a book designed for entertainment, and if that is what you are looking for from a book, it is definitely not for you. Even if you aren't looking for entertainment, it is still easy to see why people have a hard time reading this. The Road challenges traditional conventions on what a story can be, and for me, it is important that authors (or any artists) are still willing to do this.

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