Metro Reco: The Road
A few months ago I recommended Blood Meridian, the first Cormac McCarthy book I’d ever read. I’ve been somewhat obsessed with McCarthy ever since (I’m just finishing up a paper on Blood Meridian actually).
So I’ve been reading a ton of McCarthy criticism and now I’m dying to read the rest of his books (but who knows when that’s going to happen). I did however manage to squeeze in The Road over Christmas (in about five hours, late into the night). Two words: holy fuck.
Set in post-apocalyptic America, two survivors, an intrepid father and his compassionate, fearful son, traverse a desolate landscape, needing to reach a warmer climate if they’re to continue to survive. And survival isn’t easy. The pair forage for food in homes long-stripped of their valuables while the permanently horror-stricken husks of their former occupants look on; they flee savage tribes of cannibals who kill and eat their young and keep stores of slaves to rape and snack on; they huddle for warmth on sodden ground during nights that get longer and colder. All the while, the father aware he is dying, knowing he’s running out of time to teach his son all he knows.
In a world where everything is dark and dead and sick (even the falling snow is grey) the father forges on, relentlessly, for the sake of his son, who he urges to "carry the fire". In the depiction of a world so abominable and heart-stoppingly terrifying the reader finds beauty in the language, and in McCarthy’s searing characterization of a father’s tenderness towards his son.
If you’ve never read McCarthy, The Road is a great book to start with. It’s much less dense than Blood Meridian and not as graphically violent. But it’s no less stunning. And while never, ever sentimental, it manages to be, dare I say, hopeful.