Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy has received many awards for his book, The Road, from a New York Times Notable Book to 2007 Winner of the Pullitzer Prize. He writes about two main characters, a father and son, surviving in postapocalyptic America, from what the duo must do to survive and who they must avoid if they wish to continue on their journey to the coast.

There were a couple of different items of this book that I found to be very intriguing. The first being that the reader never really knows what has happened to the country. From other readings and reviews, I assumed it was destroyed from nuclear war . . . but really, is this correct? And, was it just America that has been affected? I assume that the destruction is world-wide, but is it really? Overall, there are many assumptions being made about the story when you are reading it. Are my personal assumptions the same as any other reader? And, if not, how does a different set of assumptions affect the reading of the book?

Secondly, throughout the entire story, you never know the names of the father and son duo. Personally, I believe that this was the intent of McCarthy for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when their world is in complete destruction and chaos, when they are barely living from day to day, do names really matter? I really don't think so! For many of us, our name helps us to distinguish ourselves, create uniqueness as an individual. However, in a world created in this book, do you really want to stand out? Or, is it more important for your survival to blend in, to become just another object among the masses of destruction? Secondly, as a reader, I found it harder to actually relate to the characters because they were nameless. It created a "distance" in a sense, not really knowing the father or the son, and therefore, making it difficult or in my case, impossible for me to really connect to the characters. Afterall, think about the Holocaust. The Jewish people were assigned numbers and ultimately, made it easier for the German soldiers to look at them as simply numbers, not people with stories and histories within them. (This actually reminds me of another book that looks at the psychology of killing in war and society. I will try to review this book at some point in the future because it is truly one of THE most intriguing reads I've read! Due to the complexity of the subject, I will not go into any details here!)

Moving on . . . what did I really think of this book? I still don't really know. As I describe it to others, I have said that it is truly beautifully written; however, it is the most depressing story I think that I have ever read. I kept reading and reading, hoping for some redemption and never finding it. I closed the book feeling very blah . . . I really have no other way to describe my feeling! In fact, it made me really wonder what makes a book eligible for the world reknowned Pullitzer Prize! How could a book like this win such an upstanding award? (For more information on the Pullitzer Prize, click here.) Well, in the end, it probably does deserve it, but I just don't know if this is a book that I would recommend to just anyone and everyone. It's a hard book to read (not physically, but emotionally) and if a reader takes a story to heart, this can be a very hard book for a soul to digest. I know that others have raved about it, but I do not!

Want another opinion? Check out these reviews:


  1. Some interesting thoughts, Tif.

    I think we can assume that it is worldwide - or other countries would have sent help.

    Was it nuclear? Or global warming? Or some other catastrophe? - it's deliberately left open. And it really doesn't matter to the survivors what caused it - they just have to cope with staying alive as best they can. Yes, it is extremely depressing - it tries to end on the most hopeful note possible, but really...

  2. Tracy ... I think as mixed as I feel about this book, I can't argue with the fact that it creates some great discussion! Very good points!!


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