Monday, May 07, 2007

The Road

I've ignored my must read book list again and picked up a novel I didn't have on there. Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD. Curiosity, I guess. After all it did get the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and more importantly was Oprah's book club selection! So, what's all the fuss?

I'm about 3/4 of the way done, thanks to not being able to put this book down until after one in the morning, and then only because my eyes were burning. The amazing thing is, the whole story consists of a man and his son walking across a post-apocalyptic America. That's the entirety of the plot. Neither the man nor his son are named, nor is the event that has destroyed life on earth. But, in this simplicity lay incredible heartache and gorgeous prose.

I'm not sure why he uses such rhetorical devices such as leaving out the apostrophes in the contractions. Maybe he was trying to give the reader a sense of the rules changing; a sense that the world they live (and speak in) no longer has rules. He also skillfully uses a lot of repeating themes and images: gray, fear, the uncertainty of an "I don't know" response to a lot of questions.

I spend most of the hours with this book alternating between trying to read through tears and trying to unclench my jaw. Even after I put it down, I couldn't release myself from the world he created. Even then, I strained to see through the dark, feeling the falling forest around me and expecting scrawny, soiled men with human flesh in their teeth to sneak into my room. I almost woke up my babies just to hold them. It is that powerful.

As a writer I am both humbled and inspired by this masterpiece.

1 comment:

Christian said...

I find all of McCarthy's novels to be like that. I was so blown away by All The Pretty Horses that it was a week or more before I could read another book. Amazing writer.