Author: Cormac MacCarthy
Published: 2007 Vintage Books (orig. 2006)
Read For: Back to the Classics Challenge, Pulitzer Challenge
My Rating: 4.5 stars
When the film adaptation of this book was released, I had no idea that it had begun as a book, and definitely no idea that it was a Pulitzer Prize winner. All I knew was that the film looked creepy, and that dystopia was not my thing. My husband went to see it without me, and I was perfectly fine with that.
And then I found out that it was a Pulitzer Prize Winner and I was agape for about three weeks. I've loved the Pulitzers I've read, they have always been insightful and written well, and I've made it a personal goal to read them all at some point. So The Road made it onto my TBR list. When I made the further discovery that the author has some other amazing books out there, The Road jumped up quite high on my list.
I can't say that The Road was an enjoyable book to read. How could a story of a father and son trying to survive a cruel wasted world be pleasant? What was fascinating to me about this book was that the plot line was so very simple, the two main characters were only slightly developed, (you get to know their thoughts, but never their names. There is no contemplating or bonding or making friendships with these poor distraught characters--they are in survival mode for goodness' sake! No time to kick back and ponder!) the writing was sparse, and yet the setting was vivid and boy, was my heart pounding! I recently posted the first line, but the syntax is brilliant and bears repeating.
When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.The only other quote from the book I took note of was on page 15. After that I pretty much didn't breathe or blink until there were no more words for me to devour.
The blackness he woke to on those nights was sightless and impenetrable. A blackness to hurt your ears with listening.There were no dialogue tags in the book, so once or twice I had to reread a couple of lines to make sure I was sure of who was talking, but overall it didn't inhibit the reading experience. If anything, it enhanced it because it made you aware that the attention wasn't solely on the conversation, the character's attention was elsewhere. Many of the sentences were fragmented observations, which really served to set the mood as well. In short, McCarthy's writing floored me. I immediately found an excuse to drop by my local indie book shop and get my hands on another of his books (ended up with All the Pretty Horses) because I can't wait to read more of his writing. I almost even want to see The Road in film format, but I don't know if I'm ready yet. Maybe at some point the intensity will fade and I'll be up for the experience.
If all the books I've chosen for the Back to the Classics Challenge are this rewarding, I'm in for a great six months!