The Road by Cormac McCarthy

350540Fiction — print. Vintage International, 2006. 287 pgs. Received from PaperBackSwap.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a selection for Oprah’s Book Club, McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel has been herald as pure genius. The story of father and son journeying to the coast after the world ends has also been adapted into a movie, and judging by the list at the end of this post, has been a favorite of the book blogging community.

“Then they came upon it from a turn in the road and they stopped and stood with the salt wind blowing in their hair where they’d lowered the hoods of their coats to listen. Out there was the gray beach with the slow combers rolling dull and leaden and the distant sound of it. Like the desolation of some alien sea breaking on the shores of a world unheard of. Out on the tidal flats lay a tanker half careened. Beyond that the ocean vast and cold and shifting heavily like a slowly heaving vat of slag and then the gray squall line of ash. He looked at the boy. He could see the disappointment in his face. I’m sorry it’s not blue, he said. That’s okay, said the boy” (pg. 215).

I, on the other hand, could not get into McCarthy’s masterpiece. Maybe it was the writing structure — sparse prose — and the lack of quotation marks. Plus the father-son dynamic we’re supposed to be in awe of consists of the boy mostly saying “I’m scared” or “don’t leave me” and the man saying “don’t be scared” or “we have to keep going”. These serious of small, repetitive conversations just did not hold my attention or make me want to keep reading.

And at the end, which I had been told was moving and powerful, left me unaffected despite feeling that I ought to because of purely awful things that happened to this little boy. Nameless characters, lack of details; there is just too much distance put between myself (the reader) and the story at hand that it just didn’t work for me.

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