Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Road

Earlier this year The Road was given the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was also picked by Oprah for her book club, which quite frankly was a strike against it for me. You kind of know going into an Oprah book that it is going to be about some kind of depressing struggle and hopefully a triumph of some kind at the end.

This book takes place in post-apocalyptic America (apparently in the Southeast after a nuclear holocaust, although the cataclysmic event is never specifically identified) as a father and son struggle to survive as some of the few remaining inhabitants left on earth. Just to give you a taste of some of the horrifying aspects of the book, they carry a gun with two bullets meant for suicide so they won't be captured by cannibals. Parts of the book were downright terrifying, but there was a sweetness in the relationship of the two characters who are willing to see life through no matter how repulsive the world is around them.

I need to make some notes about the stylistic nature of the novel. First, I havent read anything else by Cormac McCarthy so I dont know if it is just this book or if it is just him, but he doesnt use any apostrophes in contractions. I thought it was a little strange. Second, he also doesn't use quotation marks in dialogue which I was actually OK with. It kind of reminded me of blog writing. Finally, I will admit that there were some sentences that I had no idea what he was talking about. But he did use cool words like "crozzled" which I have to give him credit for, even though I think McCarthy's reputation for being one of "America's pretentious authors" probably holds true.

I don't know to tell you whether to read it or not. You can't walk three steps into Borders without tripping over the book, and I do think it is one people will be talking about for awhile. It will leave you feeling melancholy and reflective (probably one reason I decided to read it quickly) but I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling like they just couldn't/didn't want to stomach it.

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