The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition)
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Product Description

Best known for his Border Trilogy, hailed in the San Francisco Chronicle as "an American classic to stand with the finest literary achievements of the century," Cormac McCarthy has written ten rich and often brutal novels, including the bestselling No Country for Old Men, and The Road. Profoundly dark, told in spare, searing prose, The Road is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece, one of the best books we've read this year, but in case you need a second (and expert) opinion, we asked Dennis Lehane, author of equally rich, occasionally bleak and brutal novels, to read it and give us his take. Read his glowing review below. --Daphne Durham


Guest Reviewer: Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane, master of the hard-boiled thriller, generated a cult following with his series about private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, wowed readers with the intense and gut-wrenching Mystic River, blew fans all away with the mind-bending Shutter Island, and switches gears with Coronado, his new collection of gritty short stories (and one play).

Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is. McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work. McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries. In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith. --Dennis Lehane





NATIONAL BESTSELLER

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER
National Book Critic's Circle Award Finalist

A New York Times Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year
The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, The Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York, People, Rocky Mountain News, Time, The Village Voice, The Washington Post

The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • Literature in 90 minutes, at screens everywhere
    Agent: Hey!. Cormac, How ya doin' ?
    Cormac: Arrrah.
    A: Look Mr. C; I, err we need a little somethin' real fast.
    C: Arroh.
    A: What about something post apocalyptic, like A Canticle for Leibowitz, or you
    remember Alas Babylon? Or err somethin' like On the Beach, or a little like
    The Stand?
    C: Aaha.
    A: Remember Sci-Fi?
    C: Aooh.
    A: No no Mr. C,not Di-Fi; Sci-Fi, a tired and forgotten novel form. Not the
    tired and forgotten Frisco Demo.
    C: Ahh.
    A: Great! A nameless Father and young Son traveling overland in a blasted and
    horrific physical landscape; individuals starving and hunted by the mob
    remnants of their own society. Perfect. They loose, your typical curtain Mr. C.!
    C: Ha.
    A: Wonderful! I'll set up a conference call at 2; screen writers, story-board
    editor, assistant writers, assistant script editors. You tell'em what you
    got, and we'll be out of there by 3:15, 3:30 max. They do all the heavy work.
    I've already sold the foreign film rights, and the cable TV rights.
    Just giv'em a cute poster quote, how'bout this: "If this aint messed up, it'll
    do 'till something really messed up comes along." Almost has the ring of
    literature, don't it.
    C: ?
    A: Oh! We already used that one, sorry.
    C: !.
    A: I'll send a check, see ya at 2.
    C: !!


    ...more info
  • Simple tale of survival
    I had never read any thing by Cormac McCarthy before, but after watching the movie version of "No Country for Old Men" decided to see what else there was out there by the author. So this book came up in my search on Amazon. For the price I decided to give a shot and besides with Viggo on the cover I knew I would want to see the movie.

    The book was a fast read and it is easy to tell the "good" guys from the "bad" guys. It tells of the struggles a father has for trying to keep him and his son safe from the world around them. The story follows the duo as the make the trek south to a mystery destination that the father hopes will be free form the desperate landscape and devastation the world around them has become. There are some very dark times for the two of them to survive and adapt to.

    How would you do with out the conveniences of the modern world?
    ...more info
  • A Critical Review: Bad Times and Good Words on The Road
    Memories of a times past, images of houses and trees, and a baby atop a spit--all covered in a gray, lifeless, consuming ash generated from the waning beauty of the world. This is the beauty of The Road, released in 2006 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. But wait, who wants to read almost 300 pages of gloom? Is a new demographic of literary masochists emerging? Quite the contrary. Cormac McCarthy, authoring his tenth novel and as soft-hearted as he is sadistic in his approach, cuts through the thick veil of darkness that is his subject matter to grab the reader's mind as much as their heart. He does so not with a foreshadowed light or concluding happiness which brings meaning to all that precedes it (there's none here), but by displaying language in its bare-bones, nearly intuitive meaning (if that's at all possible) throughout.

    That doesn't mean The Road is not a challenging, at times purposefully torturous read. Wordsmiths have a dictionary on hand, close readers get ready to travel back and forth between a set of periods numerous times, and upbeat folks admit to yourself Nietzsche wasn't far from the truth in saying, "when you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you." Those prerequisites listed, each narrative choice whether related to plot, description, or dialogue in The Road is an integral part of Cormac's method to show and not just tell the reader either about the surprises, devastating lows, drawn out limbos, or occasional highs of a world after the apocalypse. The desire to turn the page comes not from discovering how the apocalypse came about but what it "uncovers", the Greek root of the word, about human interaction reduced to its essence: love and the void of it.

    The Road has a fair amount of action as the boy and his vigilant father travel south to escape the weather, bleak to the point that trees spontaneously keel over, long ridden of birds, because of "days more gray each one that had gone before"; but the overall frequency of, and pacing during the action make it a second consideration to narrative description and dialogue. A fight doesn't lurk around every bend, but an undeniable anticipation sits in the back of the reader's mind. As the man walks out into open fields, the boy lies shivering in one place too long or with a fire built by his father, aware it is too close to the road, we feel someone watching. But most often it proves only to be us, reading a narrative in 3rd person.

    Just as 40 or 50 pages have past since the last skirmish, escaped by ducking out, another pops up to keep the possibility alive; and just as the youth enters another house, in search of food with his father, his once correct instinct that danger awaits is an over-reaction. How believable is it for a man and his son to fight off hordes of marauders with only two bullets, plastic bags wrapped around their feet, and a bulbous shopping cart in tow? In the case that they did, the marauders might as well be zombies. Survival means avoidance when at all possible, and, in keeping with a realistic approach, we witness it much more often. Moving away from action, the plot is so simple that you already understand it at this point in the review.

    Even if the reader is not fond of the elaborate, articulately described landscapes, anything but beautiful themselves, with recurring images of "gray", "dark", and "ash", he or she realizes or should be aware that repetition is a tool perhaps stronger than novelty. McCarthy wrote The Road in 3rd person, with a privileged narrator oftentimes accessing the thoughts and inhabiting the perspective of the man. Unlike his son, the man knew the world before its devastation. In this sense, we share his experience. Repetition of bleak imagery, stated differently because of changing scenery serves to detail the unique contours of the land, as a removed narrator might, while still capturing the feeling of utter hopelessness that pervades it based on a pre-apocalyptic understanding of the world. With a son to feed, shelter, and keep out of harms way as best as possible, day-dreams inspired by a photograph of his dead wife, and nightmares of both the people he loves abandoning the world at their own hands or another's it's easy to understand why every new landscape is not so pretty. It's as difficult and droning at times to read the novel as it is for the man to survey the land before him; that's the point. The lack of any chapters or substantial breaks only adds to readers dragging their feet alongside the boy and man.

    Bringing the question of what it means to exist down to a smaller unit, McCarthy has a way of writing sentences that do just that, simply. Take, for example, page six where the narrator states, "Below in the little valley the still gray serpentine of a river." That's it? That's a sentence? Slap a "flowed" in the middle or at the end and you have a sentence any author might write. But Cormac McCarthy isn't just any author. Serpentine is a verb but it functions intuitively and at the same time as an adjective because many of his other "sentences," such as "Along the shore a burden of dead reeds", have no verb at all. These sentences embody subjects with an agency, either inside or outside itself, left indeterminate. Like the river, the man can't quite touch or put words to why it is what he does, but survives to care for his son nonetheless.

    Despite various, interspersed dialogues, McCarthy chooses to omit quotations as a way of unifying that which is said and that which is written giving each equal credence and in line with his minimalist style. It is in the boy's telling, short-winded debates with his father about whether to give a food handout to a nearly blind man or leave the clothes on a thief's back that readers learn he looks forward while the man, watching the cart's side view mirrors for "bad guys" or over his shoulder at his own demons, is obsessed with the past. This obsession, something the man might label as awareness, is what pushes him to inhumane acts but necessarily keeps his boy alive. The continuation stops there though. Like father, unlike son. There is hope for truly "good guys" on the horizon even in a generation that knows only the road.

    In closing, to draw on a scene in The Road, Cormac McCarthy is the man and we are his son, washed of the grime that literature acutely adhering to forms, or bad literature, leaves on us all. He immerses us in refreshing, at times suffocating language that exists without context--in manifold meanings--as confusing and miraculous as the world that birthed it. You, the reader, tell him what it means as a boy discovering the world for the first time, unaware that something ravaged it at all if it weren't for survivors. At times it can seem a bit overwhelming, but if you're willing to be lifted up by an ineffable force, scared out of your wits from some false anticipations, and dragged along to the point that you feel beaten down get a copy of The Road. If you're not, keep reading Jodi Picoult and Twilight novels....more info
  • The Road
    So this book seemed to start off a little slow, but at the same time it wasn't . The book is written in what seems to be Cormac McCarthy's own format. After watching No Country for Old Men, I can understand his style and writing structure. As you read, you see the love that this father has for his son and the trust that the son has in his father. The struggle together and they believe together and that was awesome. This is a father who truly loved his son and was willing to whatever he could to keep him safe and healthy. A wonderful story with many emotions....more info
  • The Road, For Contemporary Fiction
    The Road is a lot like bad tasting beer, at first it's just horrible and you don't want to have anything to do with it, but you drink it anyways and slowly but surely after a while it starts to get better and you start to enjoy it the more you read (more beer) and you get drawn to the characters and start to feel for them and relate to them....more info
  • Sobering possibility
    A haunting reminder of a would-be, could-be disaster scenario. I like the dream state flow of the writing. It left me thinking about the book for weeks and now months, as something I pray never will manifest....more info
  • The Road Review
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy certainly isn't a light summer beach read but it is an interesting story. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the only people left are either cannibalistic or completely hopeless. McCarthy's style of writing is very different in that he does not use any quotations or chapter breaks. Although this adds to the story's idea, it does make it difficult to keep up. I often had to re-read passages and certain sentences because it became difficult to keep track of who was talking or if it was a flashback or not. Over all The Road was an interesting read but a little morbid and hard to follow. ...more info
  • Contemporary Literature at its finest.
    Lots! and lots of differing opinions on this one. I'm not a critic by any stretch and definitely ain't rightly intelligent enough to question Oprah or the Pulitzer committee. All I know is this book kept me on edge, turned my stomach into knots, and on occasion scared the crap out of me; quite literally. It strikes me as an allegorical tale and really kept reminding me of "Moby Dick". The oddball narrative and the meandering storyline kept me riveted, I didn't quite know what was happening but was desperate to figure it out all the same. I think any book that entices someone to read it twice and still give it a scathing review in the hallowed halls of Amazon deserves all the attention it can muster. Pity the fool who is lying on their deathbed and suddenly has an epiphany about this tale of good and evil....more info
  • Not so good
    I simply fund this book boring. It had absolutely no character development. The two main characters are never even given a name. They are just called boy and man. The book just darkly travels down a post apocalyptic highway to nowhere. There is little to no interest as they travel. I would not recommend this book....more info
  • Decent read.
    There is so much hype about this book I was kind of disappointed. The first fourth of the book is extremely boring but it picks up eventually. I am anxious to see the movie as most of the book is very well written. ...more info
  • Literature in 90 minutes, at screens everywhere
    Agent: Hey!. Cormac, How ya doin' ?
    Cormac: Arrrah.
    A: Look Mr. C; I, err we need a little somethin' real fast.
    C: Arroh.
    A: What about something post apocalyptic, like A Canticle for Leibowitz, or you
    remember Alas Babylon? Or err somethin' like On the Beach, or a little like
    The Stand?
    C: Aaha.
    A: Remember Sci-Fi?
    C: Aooh.
    A: No no Mr. C,not Di-Fi; Sci-Fi, a tired and forgotten novel form. Not the
    tired and forgotten Frisco Demo.
    C: Ahh.
    A: Great! A nameless Father and young Son traveling overland in a blasted and
    horrific physical landscape; individuals starving and hunted by the mob
    remnants of their own society. Perfect. They loose, your typical curtain Mr. C.!
    C: Ha.
    A: Wonderful! I'll set up a conference call at 2; screen writers, story-board
    editor, assistant writers, assistant script editors. You tell'em what you
    got, and we'll be out of there by 3:15, 3:30 max. They do all the heavy work.
    I've already sold the foreign film rights, and the cable TV rights.
    Just giv'em a cute poster quote, how'bout this: "If this aint messed up, it'll
    do 'till something really messed up comes along." Almost has the ring of
    literature, don't it.
    C: ?
    A: Oh! We already used that one, sorry.
    C: !.
    A: I'll send a check, see ya at 2.
    C: !!


    ...more info
  • Hauntingly beautiful
    I had bought this book but delayed reading it til I had a few spare hours to read it as I sensed it would be addicting. I was right. I could not stop reading the book - it is one of my favorites. I could not put it down.

    The story is at once simple and original in plot. It centers around a boy and his father and "each other's worlds".

    Yes, the lack of punctuation was distracting but it added to the grittiness of the story. Some people have complained about a lack of plot or excitement - isn't it obvious that that's the point? The day-to-day lives of two people living in a stark world. Even dangerous lives have a rythmn to them.

    The only complaint I had was the ending. It seemed a bit cliched. The father tells his son to "carry the fire" and the son somehow miraculously finds another family to live with. Then what? The world is still destroyed and it is pretty impossible to clean it up or find food.

    I also didn't quite understand why they had to keep moving around - they will always be found by someone.

    But overall, the book is amazing and one of the few that showcases the strong ties of family....more info
  • Definately A Must Read
    "The Road" was a real page turner. I couldn't put it down. It was full of tragedy, triumph, the love of father and son, respect, desparation and the search for a new beginning. Can't wait to see it on film....more info
  • Could have done more...
    The story had so much potential!! First off, I don't like McCarthys style off writing. He try's to be so poetic, for which he does a good job but to me it just seems like too much fluff. Second the book is predictable as the dreary nature of the book foreshadows the ending... I don't know... it was a good book but I guess I just expected more of an adventure / suspense. To use an example from the movies; I was expecting "Independence Day" but I got "Signs".......more info
  • A Great Book
    This is a wonderful book to read, I was spell bound. I couldn't put it down....more info
  • Could have been much better.
    After all the hoopla that was surrounding this, I was pretty surprised when I read the book. Like others with negative reviews have also mentioned, his grammar, or lack of, is pretty strange. That aside, a good fifty percent of the book is filled with descriptions of the ash that occupies their world.

    The reason it gets three, instead of one star from me is because the book was not completely devoid of any thought provoking segments. Some parts of the story present certain events which make you think how you would react in that situation. If you would become a product of your environment or if you would remain "the good guy", and if keeping your set of morals would ultimately lead to your demise.

    It was an interesting topic, and I still think they could make a good movie out of this, but it could have been presented in a much better way than was done in this book.

    ...more info
  • Not all that depressing
    First off I very much enjoyed this book. The love between the father and son was immeasurable, and was very much described in the book. There were spots of deppression and McCarthy's writing is very unique, but I could not have been more satisfied with the ending. It showed a glimmer of hope in humanity in that there were still compassionate people in the world even in post-apocalyptic times. McCarthy has to be one of today's greatest authors if not only for this book alone....more info
  • Gloom, despair, and sheer misery...
    My first Cormac McCarthy book. There were flashes of brilliance, mostly in the second half of the book, and not really so many. But enough to show me the guy has a lot of talent, but he prefers not to use it most of the time. Mostly it was trudging unjoyfully through a cold and gray, ashen environment totally devoid of life, with the exception of a few biped cannibals here and there. And lots of mind-numbing redundancies in the Papa-boy dialogs. Cormac's prose style takes some getting used to, but once you do, it's a quick read, because he leaves so many words out and just gives you fragments to work with. Compare this text with a conventionally written book. A Lot fewer words. And mostly it worked, except when there were lengthy exchanges between two characters, as in pages 168 through 175. They both talk pretty much the same, so if you lose your place, you have to retrace your steps back to something that recognizably belongs to Papa, then go on from there. Cormac makes the reader work harder when it comes to dialog, but elsewhere his shortened sentences "spoon-feed" the reader in a hurry.

    The book reads like a hasty first draft, but apart from the style, there's the many unanswered questions that spoiled it for me.

    Why are there no animals? Wouldn't some species be a lot more adaptable than humans? There was one dog barking, but you never see it. In an environment like this there should be large packs of wild dogs running around and attacking anything that looked like lunch. Anyway, with few humans to hunt them, most wildlife would proliferate like wildfire, so if the Disaster happened years ago, why haven't the few surviving humans adopted a hunter-gatherer lifestyle instead of just trudging around looking for unopened cans of food from years past?

    Why are they heading south? Just because it's warmer? What's their ultimate goal? Ash, ash, everywhere, but no hint as to where it comes from, and what caused the worldwide Collapse.

    If the Collapse happened years before, how come the roads and highways are still passable with their cart? The roads should have been cracked and crumpled, overgrown with grass and weeds, and rapidly disappearing.

    Everything's gray and cold and stinking, and everyone, including Papa, is selfishly looking after themselves with no humane impulses toward their fellow humans. The man and the boy suffer daily, yet they keep slogging on without even knowing why or where. Halfway through the book I was wondering why Papa didn't take one of those bullets and do what his wife apparently suggested: put the boy out of his misery. Scrawny, skin-and-bone, sunken cheeks, afraid of everything and everyone, yet the boy seemed to recognize the pointlessness of it all even before Papa would admit it.

    It's obvious Cormac did little research for this allegedly post-apocalyptic novel, so why did he choose this sub-genre? More importantly, why did he write this story at all? What did he reveal or reiterate about human nature or life in general? What's the pay-off for the patient reader who accompanies these two suffering souls on their gloomy trip to nowhere?

    Too many unanswered questions. The glowing reviews inside the front pages of the book are intimidating, but I won't be bullied into liking what I don't. I'm not trashing McCarthy, but I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone unless they felt they were too happy and needed to depress themselves.

    By the time Papa died, I felt some emotion, but whatever sadness I felt was overshadowed by my relief that Papa would no longer be coughing up blood and pushing himself forward in his stinking clothes in a gray ashen world where the mere sight of another human brought heart-stopping fear.

    Rest in peace, Papa. It was all for nothing anyway. The new man who finds the boy will probably have him on the menu some evening. After seeing what we did on this journey, why should we expect anything less? And even if the man is a "good guy," what lies ahead for them, with so little that's alive or worth surviving? A bird-less sky, nothing but rotten corpses throughout the landscape. With so much attention to ugly facts of their existence, I'm surprised McCarthy didn't go into detail about how they fared without toilet paper. No wonder the clothes stink! Phew! I wanted to take a shower after finishing this book. And I did give it a fair reading. I wanted to like this book. And I do think McCarthy has talent. He just withheld it for this book....more info
  • What did I miss?
    I know it won the Pulitzer and much critical acclaim but I think it is terrible. I bought this before it won the Pulitzer based simply on my regard for McCarthy's earlier work. I think his Blood Meridian and Border Trilogy are great works but I cannot say the same for "The Road". I read it twice (thank goodness it is a shorter work) and failed to find any redeeming qualities.

    In my opinion, "The Road" failed on many levels: the thematic content was as barren as the landscape the novel depicts, McCarthy's attempt at minimalism was sophomoric, and fictional continuity was appallingly lacking(all animals are dead except man?) Of course, any novel depicting apocalypse will evoke some human emotion just as visiting a slaughterhouse will evoke much emotion - but neither can be rightfully called art simply because they evoke strong emotions. I expect art to also entertain, enlighten, and provoke deeper thought; I did not experience any of these with "The Road"....more info
  • A Whimper and a Bang
    After all the "what if" scenarios of the end of the world - from asteroids to aliens, to plague, and even to zombies - Cormac McCarthy brings us to the very end of humanity's rule on Earth. Although he never comes out and says so, it's clear that mankind killed itself on a global scale through nuclear war. The nuclear winter that Dr. Carl Sagan warned us about has come to pass in this magnificent book that is depressing, beautiful, and very, very scary.

    In his usual somber, character-driven style, McCarthy kills us off with both a bang, and then a whimper. In this bleak and terrifying world, there are no "do overs." Unlike many apocalyptic novels, in "The Road" there is no hope. No re-birth. No chance of survival. Just a burned-out cinder of a planet once dominated by homo sapiens - now an extinct species. If you're looking for a "we messed up but now we know better" end-of-the-world novel, this isn't the one. As in "On the Beach," it's all over.

    I read this book several months ago - my first read by McCarthy. Now that I've read more of his work, I see that "The Road" is similar in it's dismal tone to others. What makes this book different is that it deals with a subject matter that is all too real. Like the current best-seller "One Second After," McCarthy's manner of closing the final curtain on mankind CAN and WILL happen if we fail to keep our technology in check, our tempers and narcissism reigned in, and our sense of immortality given a firm reality check. "The Road" is a glimpse of what awaits us unless we put our decency and morality back into the forefront of the way we interact with each other on both a personal and global level.

    MANKIND'S AUTOPSY REPORT:

    Cause of death: Global nuclear confrontation.
    Manner of death: Suicide.
    ...more info
  • Depressing, yet compelling, with a dash of pretentious writing style
    Depressing, yet compelling. I have never read a post-apocalyptic novel with such a horrific backdrop, and kept wondering throughout the whole book how the main characters--an unnamed father and son--were motivated to keep on living. But this is the story of those characters and their relationship in the world, not so much about the world in which they are somehow living. It asks the question, in the face of stark desolation, what makes life worth living?

    McCarthy's writing style was distracting. He does not use apostrophes for words that are contractions and his sentences do not always make sense because they often lack a verb or subject. There are no quotes for dialogue, which is okay for the most part, but there were times when even upon a second read I wasn't sure who was saying what. Aside from being jolted out of the story by these elements of his writing style, the descriptions were good and the details intriguing. For all those who believe his writing to be non-pretentious, I disagree. Simple, perhaps, but in a very pretentious manner.

    The beauty in this story is its narrow scope, centered around the characters. This is also what made me want to know more about the world in the aftermath of the apocalypse and ultimately left me unsatisfied. What makes life worth living? For a story about characters, the characters somehow lacked enough definition to fully answer the question posed. ...more info
  • Intense, Unsettleing, Emotional, Precise - No Greater Gift Than A Father's Love - Movie will unlikely top the book
    Cormac McCarthy's The Road is an amazing book from two perspectives.

    First, the book is set against a backdrop that is so well constructed you feel a part of it. To many the job of describing the backdrop, the barrenness of the words will be unsettling. Against that backdrop of nearly unthinkable misery and fear is a father struggling to give his son all he can, to give him what he needs and the son recognizing his father for what he is trying to do and yet still feeling like a small boy. The love and compassion that the father shows, even to the point he feels he'll take his son's life so that they end everything together demonstrates the depths to which the father wants to protect his son.

    Second, as a writer, I enjoy great writing and McCarthy is so remarkably precise in his word choice and sentence construction. His words don't leap off the page, they penetrate your very being, transporting you into a place against your will, forcing you to see and experience the very emotion the character must be experiencing at that very moment. Every good and aspiring writer should read McCarthy simply for that reason alone. Not to copy his style but to understand what sentences with specificity can do and to be as intentional with our own choices.

    This is a phenomenal book that seems hard to imagine will be as good on screen as it is in the written form, it will take a very special director and cast to put as much psychological and emotional depth into the movie as is portrayed in just about every single sentence of the book....more info
  • Are you kidding me?
    I read "The Road" because of Cormac McCarthy's literary reputation, which judging from this novel, is entirely undeserved. McCarthy has a ridiculous, pretentious, pompous style that he kinda, sorta cribbed from the King James Bible, although in all honesty, I don't think he has read all that much of the Bible. There is not much evidence of that kind of reading in this book, anyway. A number of philosophers have pondered what the world would be like without government, (nasty, brutish and short) but McCarthy hasn't read any of them, either. Cormac does watch late night TV, though. He has clearly viewed "Mad Max" and "Night of the Living Dead," and they seem to be his main influences. Of course, the reader feels for this starving father, son duo who are trying to avoid the cannibals, but what does McCarthy have to say that is new or interesting about their predicament? Nothing. It was an embarrassment to American literature and culture that this novel won a Pulitzer. It was also just plain unfair. Much better American novels had to have appeared the same year "The Road" was published, and those novels could have benefited from the publicity winning a Pulitzer can bring....more info
  • Bleak but Compelling
    If the thought of a nameless man and boy pushing a shopping cart across a post-apocalyptic wasteland and trying to keep from starving to death while stumbling from one buried cache of canned goods to the next excites you, then this is the book for you. There is no sex, no romance, no vampires, and no superheroes, just two nameless people living in a world where getting through the day without being eaten by a roving gang of cannibals is a major achievement.

    The entire time I was reading this book, I had that creepy feeling you get when you are walking through an empty house where a psychopathic ax murderer just might or might not be hiding. It's not the most pleasant feeling, so why did I give this novel 5 stars? Because any writer who can evoke the experience of surviving after a major catastrophe simply by not using any first names, apostrophes, or quotation marks is awesome!...more info
  • Of Father And Son
    Over the Memorial Day weekend, my family forgot I existed; or rather, I forgot about the party and hot dogs and hamburgers because I was on "The Road" with Cormac McCarthy.

    I'm a scifi/fantasy reader, and I had expected to hear a word or two about the End of Days. But this is not a book about how the planet's climate changes, only that it has.
    (In fact, if this becomes a movie, I fear they will want to define how the climate changes and that will ultimately detract from the book's unique take on how the Man and his Boy don't know what happened, only that it did.) Hollywood has the ability to steal this stroke of genius from the audience. Anyway...

    ...what would the human spirit do in the face of the ultimate in inexorable isolation? What could this road lead to, and if I fall in love with this child-God's mirrored face in the flesh-will I have to mourn his loss?

    I don't think that any scientist could have isolated love in a test tube and looked at its many facets in the way that Cormac McCarthy has in "The Road." I fell in love this weekend with Papa and his boy. I hope you do to; I recommend this book like I've recommended no other.

    I joined in on the Memorial Day hotdogs and potato salad, and I gave thanks (and thanks and thanks) for the food I ate and the family and friends I had with me. This Road is walked in the book by two people, for the most part. But in reality, all who read 'The Road' walk it with them.
    ...more info
  • Difficult Book to Rate; Loved It and Hated It
    Because I didn't like the story told in this book, I've given it only two stars. That might not be fair though. Let me explain...

    I read The Road based on recommendations from two colleagues (I'd told them I like "end of the world" stories and they both suggested The Road.) Although I read this book cover to cover, I had to force myself to finish it. It was a dreary story that focused exclusively on the daily journey of a man and a boy who travel to the sea by foot, years after some sort of terrible bombing (the author never really tells you what happened). I say dreary because each day of their journey is pretty much like the one before it. Nothing much changes from day to day, it's the same thing over and over. I found the story very unrealistic, over-the-top, repetitive, depressing and dull.

    Having said that, the writing was good in that it is memorable and creates a vivid (though grey) world very different from ours. Although I read the book in summer 2009, whenever I see it on my shelf or on Amazon, I'm drawn right back into the world the author described. Tough book to rate because although I didn't like the story, I think the author did a phenomenal job of creating a haunting imaginary post-apocalyptic world that has stayed in my mind long after I finished reading the book. Not many books create such a vivid and memorable world - one that I instantly slip back into upon seeing or hearing about the book even long after I've read it. ...more info
  • McCarthy's Apocalypse
    The plot is simplistic, yet haunting.

    The writing is straightforward, yet effective.

    The pacing is ponderous, yet suspenseful.

    The number of characters are minimal, yet all of them are memorable.

    The atmosphere is silent and bleak, yet eerie and nightmarish.

    The themes are typically well-known in ordinary life, yet are very critical and riveting here in this book.


    This is probably Cormac McCarthy's greatest work yet: dark, haunting, and very realistic. I'm glad I had the chance to read this. Grade: A...more info
  • "All that darkness and cold...."
    The Road? A good book to read by candle light while you shiver in bed, unbathed for days, with the flu.

    From No Country for Old Men (as best as I recall),

    "...in my dream my father rode past me, and he was carrying fire, in a horn, like they used to in the olden days...he didn't say a word, just rode on past. And somehow I knew he was going on ahead, in all that darkness and cold, to prepare a fire, and he'd be waiting for me when I got there."

    And The Road,

    "When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him."

    This is all of Cormack McCarthy. Eloquent, slow studies in the candle blown out, the smoldering wick in the darkness.

    So yes, McCarthy follows in the tradition of Herman Melville, without the tedious lessons in seamanship. It's a cold, dark world where love is still so lonely, where life is desperate and crushes easily like dried leaves, but it is all we have to cling to, so we do, so faithfully, with the severest grip, slowly pulverizing it in our hands.

    True, for McCarthy some of the babies born in the dark will "carry the fire". But they will do it just like their dying fathers did the nights before, down the same road, in the same broken, limping way, forever. This is all of life. For a moment we cling to these poor, confused children as if they were things of beauty. Then we send them into the dark with wide-eyed talk of "carrying the fire". Is that a thing of beauty? Is this story?

    The literary types tell us,

    "The anti-transcendentalists reflected a pessimistic attitude and focused on man's uncertainty and limited potential in the universe. They viewed nature as vast and incomprehensible, a reflection of the struggle between good and evil. The anti-transcendentalist felt humans were depraved and had to struggle for goodness. "

    Yes, that's McCarthy. True, he gives us very fine writing. Sometimes very touching. Very much the same as in No Country for Old Men. Sometimes the moves are a bit too much--the coke can scene for one--the last and only one he'll ever drink? Or the "last train" scene--but McCarthy is trying to silhouette the tiny child with even more than the charred forests and corpses. It's not just the death of life, of humans like his father, but of humanity that is the boy's back drop. This is not cannibal rape gangs. This is the pathetic exhaustion of his mother's suicide, laced with her dull wish to murder her son, too. As in No Country, where the sheriff despairs for the human race in modern times, putting down his badge and waiting for senility and death. The same pessimistic vision mixed with just enough hope and action to keep us reading, but is really designed to marinate us in a bracing, endless despair. So much like, I imagine, the mind of the man who wrote it. Overthrown but still very capable.

    Yet in this story, unlike in No Country for Old Men, even evil is lobotomized by McCarthy's debasing empire. Here there is none of evil's eloquence, and so good has none, either. It's a story about one nation, wretchedness for all. Carrying the fire? Don't believe it....more info
  • Gray.
    GRAY, ash, black, gray, cold, ash, gray, gray, black, cold, gray, hungry, gray, ash, black, cold, road, gray, ash, "Okay?", "Okay, poppa".

    There. I have just saved you the trouble of reading this interminable and interminably dreary book. Depending on how fast you read, you owe me several/many hours of your life.

    You're welcome....more info
  • The most haunting novel I had ever read

    Set in the post-apocalyptic world, the story of "The Raod" takes us on a journey with a father and a son who are trying to survive and find a place more suitable for life. As the novel unfolds, we follow them through an extremely bleak and desolate landscape of devastated and destroyed America. The landscape is sparsely populated with other human characters, most of whom are dangerous and a threat. The food supplies are scarce, and the characters are constantly on a verge of starvation. The nature of the apocalypse is never spelled out, and in many respects is not consequential for the main thrust of the story. The main focus of the narrative is the personal story between the father and the son, and the lengths to which the former is willing to go for the sake of the latter. It is a gripping and haunting tale, probably with the most depressing overall atmosphere of any work of fiction out there. And yet, it is extremely hard to put the novel down, and given enough time it could conceivably be read in a single sitting. After having finished it, the characters and images have stayed with me for weeks. Which brings me to the following point: if you are squeamish and easily frightened, this may not be the best book for you.

    Before reading this book, I was only acquainted with Cormac McCarthy's works through their movie adaptation. However, this book left such an impression on me that now I want to go back and read his other novels. I also cannot wait to see the upcoming movie adaptation of this book. This is a true literary masterpiece and an absolute must-read. ...more info
  • "Road" Well-Travelled
    For most of Oprah's Book Club readers, "The Road"'s post-apocalyptic world will be novel. For science fiction fans, though, it reads like a "road" that we've been down before.

    Cormac McCarthy doesn't bring anything new to the table that might set this book apart from the dozens of other similarly-themed books available. It does, however, eschew "big ideas" for a relatively subdued story about a father's love for his child. It's not ambitious in the least; "Children of Men" this ain't.

    An unnamed man and his son trudge across a bleak wasteland, encountering terrible sights. The details are as sparse as the dialogue, which works in McCarthy's favor: This dark new world is whatever hell the reader imagines it to be. This is probably one of the reasons the book resonated with so many readers.

    While it's easy to try to compare "The Road" to Stephen King's "The Stand" (arguably the best apocalyptic novel in an increasingly crowded genre), "The Road" isn't a major work in the same sense. It's closer to King's "Cell," a similarly slim volume where more questions are asked than answered....more info
  • I've read this twice now.
    The first time I read this book was when it was first published and I really didn't care for it. I re-read it this past week when my book group selected it for its March read and found I liked it better the second time through.

    I think I enjoyed it more this time since I had an understanding of the structure of the novel and had realistic expectations. The first time I kept waiting for it to get moving and waiting for something to happen -- it never really did. The second time I knew what to expect and was able to just read along for the literary style and the underlying message -- that worked out much better.

    The best word I can use to describe this novel is haunting. Since reading this novel, I've not been able to look at a can of pears without thinking about this book. It sucks you in and doesn't let go until you have closed it for the final time -- and how depressing it can be. It is a very dark novel with some rays of hope but is largely a marathon of terrible events and heart-wrenching situations. This is not a novel you want to pick up to read when you are looking for something light to lift your spirits. It makes the reader think and stays with you for a long while after you are finished.

    Hard to say I loved it since it's so very, very dark but worth a read just to get you thinking about all the what-ifs there are around this situation.

    ...more info
  • Great book
    Great book but really sad. One of the few books Ive read thats left me in tears at the end....more info
  • Grim--very grim
    First of all, I'll admit I have no idea how to review this book. I'll also tell you I cannot believe the number of people who have reviewed it on Amazon.

    That being said, I will start by saying this is certainly not a book for everyone. Perhaps the reason so many have read and reviewed it has to do with its short length. Also, I recall that Oprah had something to say about it and it was big news when she snagged Carmac McCarthy for an interview (which I didn't see....). Mr. McCarthy is not a writer for everyone. After I finally made it through the hardcover edition of ALL THE PRETTY HORSES (many years ago), I'd come to the conclusion that he was not my kind of writer. So why did I read this one? Well, there are a couple of reasons. One is that I remember seeing somewhere that THE ROAD was considerably more "readable" than his other works. And there's always the "snob appeal" of having read a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. But the main reason was because it had just come out in mass market paperback about the time I was half way through my second reading of Stephen King's THE STAND--very much an apples and watermelon comparison, by the way.

    As several of the reviewers on Amazon have attested, this is the story (or plight) of a father and son who have somehow survived the earth's apocalypse. They have no home so they travel a/the road on their way south toward the ocean. As one would imagine--especially if you have ever read Mr. McCarthy--this is no "day at the park". Father and son see only gray skies and ash. They sustain themselves on food they find along roadside hovels that are desolate; however, for the most part, they are both on the brink of starvation. They both become very, very sick with only a few aspirin and some antiseptic to help. They rarely run into others--which may be a good thing as those into which they run are often cannibalistic (as they are also starving). There is often little, really, to sustain the story other than Mr. McCarthy's eerie and bleak portrait of earth-gone-to-waste and the reader's insatiable curiosity as to what is going to happen to these two "good" people.

    Do I recommend others to read THE ROAD? I'm not sure but probably not. Is the author's literary craftsmanship worth the book's dismal storyline? That is strictly a matter of opinion...but not for me. So why do I give it 4 stars? Because it's probably destined to be a classic in post-apocalyptic literature.
    ...more info
  • A Novel Menagerie's Perspective on The Road
    In my opinion, this book is about the condition of human nature when faced with the certainty of death and the total devastation of life as you knew it. Think about it. What if you lost everything you knew about this beautiful planet and saw nothing but a charred skeleton of Mother Earth with no remaining life existing thereupon it? What if the colors, smells, and everything that we take for granted about our planet is replaced with only shades of black and the smell of death and fear? I think about it and I can't imagine how I would find the will to survive in such conditions, as such, I can understand why the mother of "The Man's" boy "jumped ship" on them. But, I may be getting ahead of myself.

    For those 3 people who most likely haven't read this book (sorry about the sarcasm... but, I'm feeling as though I may be the only person left on the planet who hasn't read it), the tale of this novel is one that is difficult to describe without giving away too much of the ending and the "good parts" of the story. The best way that I can describe what this book is about is the story of a man and his son, faced with a future on earth described hereinabove while attempting to find food, water, and shelter while on the road to the coast. As the waters, rains, streams, lakes and snows are filled with ash, there is a lack of potable water. In addition, as the earth has been thoroughly burned, there is no plant life nor animal life to sustain human life. Now, what I didn't understand is what happened to the earth to create this situation. The reader is not informed of that. Was it the biblical apocalypse? In addition, why did some people survive and others not?


    Cormac McCarthy
    Now, in speaking of the survivors... McCarthy sets forth the distinction between good and evil, dark and light. The "good ones," "carry the fire." The "bad ones" are cannibals, thieves, and murderers. The reader accompanies the man and his son across the burned terrain on their goal to reach the ocean. What happens to them along the way, what they witness, who they meet, and how they survive is the nuts and bolts of this novel. Some of the visualizations that I received in reading this work are images that I'd rather not be in my head at any given point. But, they do make me want to continue to strive towards salvation and entry into the Kingdom of Heaven because God KNOWS that I could never face the atrocities of living on earth post-apocalypse.

    The ending, for me, leaves a lot to be desired. This shall not be misinterpreted to say that I'm not glad that I read the book... I am. There are components of this story that made me think about deep, heavy issues. Some of those issues include being faced with the death of my child, having to murder another human in the face of survival, and the basic elements of human kindness. The quotes of the book stated herein reflect what about the book that I did like and/or forced my thoughts.

    Favorite Quotes of the Book:
    "And the dreams so rich in color. How else would death call you? Waking in the cold day it all turned to ash instantly. Like certain ancient frescoes entombed for centuries suddenly exposed to the day."

    "If you break the little promises you'll break the big ones. That's what you said." "I know. But I won't."

    "What in God's name are you talking about? We're not survivors. We're the walking dead in a horror film."

    "He tried to remember the dream but he could not. All that was left was the feeling of it. He thought perhaps they'd come to warn him. Of what? That he could not enkindle in the heart of the child what was ashes in his own. Even now some part of him wished they'd never found this refuge. Some part of him always wished it to be over."

    "People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn't believe in that. Tomorrow wasn't getting ready for them. It didn't even know they were there."

    "When we're all gone at last then there'll be nobody here but Death and his days will be numbered too. He'll be out in the road there with nothing to do and nobody to do it to. He'll say: Where did everybody go? And that's how it will be. What's wrong with that?"

    "When your dreams are of some world that never was or of some world that never will be and you are happy again then you will have given up. Do you understand? And you can't give up. I won't let you."

    Sher's "Out of Ten" Scale:
    Truthfully, I am dreading this part of MY standard review. I have absolutely no idea how to rate this book. I kept reading because I wanted answers... I wanted to know the truth about the boy and if he was an angel/savior/son of God with a purpose.... never really got that answer. The ending didn't help much. I wanted to know what caused this entire mess... never got that. The way that the book is written is with incorrect grammar, so getting used to the rhythm of the book took some adjustment. The lack of names for these characters bothered me. Some of the vocabulary words in the book, I've never heard before. As I was on vacation, I didn't have a dictionary handy so that was frustrating. The lack of richness in the communication between the man and his son left much to be desired. I mean, he taught his kid all of these things about the earth and now all they say is "Okay." "Okay." BUT, there are some things in this book that make you think hard and long. Some of the quotes and lessons in the book are stunningly brilliant, at least for me. SOOOO.... (ugh, hate to give this rating).... I am giving it a 7 out of 10. You must think I'm crazy giving a PULTIZER PRIZE WINNING BOOK a 7. I feel horrible saying it.

    ...more info
  • You like, papa? Really? Yes. No. Okay, Okay. Maybe.
    My review title kinda shows the type of writing in this book. It is a bit confusing and irritating. However, I suppose this lazy way of writing was meant to be sparse and confusing like the world the "man" and "boy" wander. I gather an asteroid big enough to set the world on fire has hit the Earth but not big enough to blow it apart. That is my guess cause the author apparently doesn't believe in telling his readers much. It sorta reads like a what-if book, like a Discovery or Science channel show was entitled "What Would Happen to People Several Years After A Worldwide Disaster". I think that is a neat idea but why not tell readers what the disaster was? I guess he wants to focus on the relationship between the "man" and "boy" since the disaster is in the past. So what of this relationship? The profound point is that fathers love their sons. Hardly news. Throw in a few cannibals and you have a Pulitzer Prize winner.
    In a nutshell: the two start somewhere in the Smokey Mountains and walk to the sea. Along the way they find food and water just when they need them the most (over and over), run into a few cannibals who they manage to get away from, arrive at the Atlantic seaboard, the "man" dies, the "boy" takes up with another guy. The End....more info
  • Undeniably relevant and a stark vision of the future.
    I have always been a fan of post apocalyptic visions. Some movies and video games pull it off very effectively. This is an occasion where the author hit the mark perfectly. I was glad that the cataclysm that brought the earth to the brink of destruction remained unnamed. It is a good way to keep the audience on the edge of their seat and the information provided was sparse but included enough detail to suspend disbelief, which is the key to effective post apocalyptic fiction.

    McCarthy is adept at creating a life or death partnership between father and son that transcends the pages. Leaving them nameless as well lends a tone of adaptability to any reader. It forces the reader to focus on the actions of each character. It is an underrated literary tool that I wish more authors would make use of. Just one guy talking here.

    This was one of the fastest reads I have ever experienced. It only put the book down once at page 70 and then read the rest in one sitting the following day. It is rare that books have that kind of hold on me. The pacing is nearly perfect and the fact that there is no chapter breaks helps keep the book moving. McCarthy writes in quick blocks of description or dialogue that somehow form a seamless narrative. It is an incredible achievement.

    The only reason I left a fifth star of this review is because the ending was predictable. I know this may seem like a silly gripe but it is just the way I feel. Dare i say it was a rushed ending? I don't know, maybe - judge for yourself and maybe you'll feel differently. Regardless of whether the ending was predictable or not, the book is absolutely stunning and has a riveting voice that forces the reader to comprehend a world where the bond of friendship and love is all we have left. ...more info
  • Fantastic Post Apocalyptic Doom !!!
    If you want front to back doom and gloom this is the book for you. A masterpiece!...more info
  • Heartwrenching and thought provoking
    This is a beautifully written masterpiece that explores the relationship between a man and his son while trying to survive the aftermath of an unnamed apocalypse, and really an allusion to human nature at the face of survival. Cormac McCarthy writes in a characteristic prose that resembles that of "The Old Man and the Sea". The book isn't really about the post-apocalyptic events but about the deep connection between the man and his son that provides their only reason for subsistence in a dark and morbid world. "The Road" is an easy read but I found myself rereading many parts because the writing is poetic, descriptive, and profound....more info
  • we're the good guys, right?
    I think "The Road" is a masterpiece! My new "best book ever read". I'm sure I'll return to this amazon forum for years to come to read readers reaction to this great work of fiction. For me, it turned out to be an eerie tale of good and evil. One day I'll try to understand better why I started weeping during the last paragraph. I'll just say that the the boy (the son) will always be a storybook hero of mine. Suspenseful, unique, riveting, 6 stars!...more info