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March 15, 2010 | by  | in Books | [ssba]

The Road by Cormac McCarthy


We all have our own roads to follow, whether it be the road to second-year architecture, the road to toast for dinner, or the road down to the corner where you work to pay off your ‘student loan’. The difference is that we aren’t walking that road in a post apocalyptic earth where everything you knew is gone and everyone you meet wants to eat your brain. See Blanket Man, things could be worse! This book by Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country For Old Men (yes, like the film starring Javier Bardem’s bad-hair day) is, as you’ve probably guessed, not the feel-good story of the year.

The basic plot is as follows: A resolute father known only as “the man” and his (also nameless) young son trek southward across a death-filled landscape, following a main road they hope will lead them to the sea, and presumably to other (non-cannibalistic) life. We know they’re in a post-apocalyptic world, but since McCarthy doesn’t break his head open explaining the scientific details then neither should we. It’s gritty, full of grey imagery and devastatingly realistic, but the real selling point is the father-son relationship, which redeems the male species as we know it and provides heart and soul to an otherwise ruined planet. With zero Disney sentimentality.

McCarthy is gifted in the ‘not saying much but saying a lot’ category and is particularly adept at conveying this in a non-Ronan Keating way, so expect to be wowed at the subtlety McCarthy uses to describe what’s essentially the same bleak scenery, without your eyes glazing over. He doesn’t drown you in narrative, and considering the subject matter, it’s a feat that deserves a hearty pat on the back, or at least a flick through the first few pages.


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