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The Road – Cormac McCarthy

26 Aug

If you are reading this then 1) the world hasn’t ended and 2) my internet is working long enough for me to upload this. I shall get back to you all when I have a permanent connection again whenever that will be…

Bleak, miserable, depressing.  But that’s enough about The Da Vinci Code, today I shall be taking a trip up The Road.

Rhyming aside, this book made me happy whilst I was reading it, not grammatically of course, there is a distinct lack of speech marks and apostrophes and that upsets me, even at the best of times, and I find myself less drawn in to the story as a result, apart from that though there is little that irritates me about this book.

In terms of plot there is a scant amount,  a man and a boy walk down a road in post apocalyptic America, stuff happens to them. And sometimes it doesn’t.

In many ways the meagreness of the plot compliments the sparseness of dialogue between the characters, most conversations are repetitive and monosyllabic, this makes sense given the events they have lived through but doesn’t really push the character dynamic or flesh out their thoughts and feelings in any way.

Although only the merest of hints are given to what has gone before, there is never enough to satisfy the almost voyeuristic tendency to find out how the human race destroyed itself and indeed about the protagonists previous lives either.

The dead world genre has been done better in other books, if not as bleakly written, perhaps this book could have done with the classic fall back option used by Shakespeare and Homer et al, that of the existential questioning of life, of course those two literary colossi were happily not renowned for their relentless drumming into you of abject downheartedness.

There are many plot holes and things that don’t make sense to this reader, such as why walk down the middle of a road when you are trying to hide from cannibals and other such bad people (who would also naturally use such a thoroughfare), and then relying solely on your senses to detect them coming? Not the best way to protect your child, but then again now social services are no more, who will really mind. And whilst we are on the subject, how can large groups of cannibals survive the environment anyway, surely the law of diminishing returns would put paid to any moderately large group in a fairly short space of time?

Then there are the scenes that are just perfect for the cinema, but don’t really feel right in the book, perhaps they are to contrived and full of the symbolism, which works fine on the big screen to push ideas to an audience in a two hour film but for a reader with time to dwell on such things, the contrived nature combined with the lack of depth is quite jarring when a good idea suddenly comes through in the text.

Caught up in the book, I really enjoyed it but on reflection, it seems less impressive, with the repetitive nature, lack of direction and the feeling this reader was left with of ‘is that it’?, it does become more style over substance.  Like No Country For Old Men, on reflection that too, was just an average thriller. I’m not sure how Mr McCarthy does it but I am still interested in reading more of his stuff, even after what I just typed.

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37 Comments

Posted by on 26/08/2012 in Fiction

 

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37 responses to “The Road – Cormac McCarthy

  1. letizia

    26/08/2012 at 15:17

    This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while. For some reason, it’s never the “right time” to read it! Your post has made me a bit more curious, I admit… 🙂

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    • StetotheJ

      26/08/2012 at 15:21

      If you fancy a quick read, that’s non to taxing then this is it. I think with the film and all, it’s got to much hype, if you don’t expect muxh then it’ll be fine and you may be pleasantly surprised by bits of it.

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      • letizia

        26/08/2012 at 15:24

        That’s good to know. For some reason (the topic, the cover), I thought it was going to be heavy going and depressing. Will put it on my “next book to read” pile then (I can see the book doing a little happy dance as I type!)

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        • StetotheJ

          26/08/2012 at 15:29

          It is a bit depressing and bleak but in a good way. it never delves enough into the human soul to make it anything but an interesting read, there is nothing profound really, in what it easy. Interestingly the words happy, little and dance don’t actually appear anywhere in the book, or maybe I just made that up.

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  2. Bumba

    26/08/2012 at 16:16

    I believe they did make this one into a movie. I sat through it. I’m not 100% sure. It could have been another somewhat intriguing, but overdrawn, over-scary, bleak and dreary film that exploits the same theme. Bleak and dreary sells for some reason.

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    • StetotheJ

      30/08/2012 at 17:00

      I don’t mind a bit of bleak and dreary myself, in fact I’m somewhat partial to it, but it has to be good and dreary at the same time.

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  3. Andrea Kelly

    26/08/2012 at 22:32

    I’ve had this book for a while now, and started reading the first chapter, but I just couldn’t get into it! I definitely want to go back and give it another try.

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    • StetotheJ

      30/08/2012 at 17:04

      I hope you get more than I did out of it and indeed you get into it easier than a big sleeping bag.

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  4. Anonymous

    27/08/2012 at 16:51

    I enjoyed it but I couldn’t get over the feeling I was being punched repeatedly in the head by a man wearing a costume that said ‘Metaphor!’

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    • StetotheJ

      30/08/2012 at 17:02

      Metaphors make me sleepy, especially Dan Brown’s metaphors, which he makes literal thus making them a SHAM!

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  5. pennycoho

    01/09/2012 at 05:33

    I just love your written word and your comments to those commenting. I really really do, you should write a book but most definitely a satire. “It’s a bit depressing and bleak but in a good way”, I am enchanted with your words. Oh, the review was very well done by the way, thank you, Penny

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    • StetotheJ

      01/09/2012 at 16:52

      I would love to write a book, but i need that elusive good idea, it would be a hugely positive if slightly biased blog review for me as well. I always think my comments back are my weakest part of this whole blog shebang but I am always happy to devour your positive views. I shall try to keep it up. Big thankyous from me and I hope to keep up the standard of wordage.

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  6. pennycoho

    01/09/2012 at 17:02

    I honestly believe notice the word usage here, that you write exactly as you the person are. So I don’t have any worries on that score my friend! with affection, Penny

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    • StetotheJ

      01/09/2012 at 17:05

      I blather a lot, I was once told the way i form my sentences gives people a headache and that amused me but made me a bit sad as it is my only way of talking, well ranting if you will. I do sometimes have a poke at the way I write though, I don’t like to bamboozle people to much!

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      • pennycoho

        01/09/2012 at 17:46

        Once again I can sort of disagree with you. You don’t blather, you express. And those who say you give them a headache, they probably deserve it. And we, people, need a lot of playful bamboozling to make it through life’s trials!

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        • StetotheJ

          03/09/2012 at 12:56

          If bamboozlement is a word then I shall definitely be sending some your way!

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          • pennycoho

            03/09/2012 at 17:58

            Good to know, I’m ready to embrace the wonderful world of bamboozology and your very expressive method of playing with words. 🙂 Go for it, make my day! 🙂

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            • StetotheJ

              05/09/2012 at 14:14

              Challenge accepted! Although I shall now have to go peruse my dictionaries and get some quirky material, just for you.

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              • pennycoho

                05/09/2012 at 14:44

                I await anticipatiously! 🙂

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                • StetotheJ

                  05/09/2012 at 14:48

                  Is that a word? I like it though, i shall be campaigning to get that into the OED next year.

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                  • pennycoho

                    05/09/2012 at 14:54

                    Of course it’s not a word! That would boring, you know ‘old hat’ sort of stuff! New words – that’s the thing, and you do that so well! 🙂

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                    • StetotheJ

                      05/09/2012 at 15:04

                      We should start a club, have our own language and be merry. It may sound sad but i did check out a dictionary (one of those old paper things that the young people haven’t heard of) and it is not a word and that makes me proud.

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                    • pennycoho

                      05/09/2012 at 16:10

                      Hey, I happen to be a connoisseur of nonwords, it is my belief that “Readers” can create words almost better than writers because they read so many? Perhaps? 🙂

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                    • StetotheJ

                      06/09/2012 at 16:00

                      As long as there is isn’t to much discombobulation I fully agree. Us bloggers do it the correct way with making up our own rules, before delightedly breaking them!

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                    • pennycoho

                      06/09/2012 at 16:22

                      Absolutely! I agree. That is most proper of you! Speaking for myself, I break the rules anytime I can, I love creativity and shortcuts! 🙂

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                    • StetotheJ

                      06/09/2012 at 16:27

                      We should do a word swap one day and confuzzle all our blogger friends with our inventions.

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                    • pennycoho

                      06/09/2012 at 16:40

                      totally good to go on that one, it is my most sincere belief that “true-blue” readers of books have that extra “je ne sais quoi” required to be totally irreverent and brilliantly silly! 🙂

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  7. Claire 'Word by Word'

    02/09/2012 at 07:32

    I really respect McCarthy as a writer and am in awe of his work, despite the often pessimistic nature of it. I haven’t read this yet, but definitely will. I really loved the first two books in The Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing and am saving the last for now.

    I even wrote a piece of flash fiction which was inspired by his work after seeing a photo prompt of a buzzard. Was surprised at what came out and then realised it was the after effect of finishing a McCarthy book. I’ve since renamed it ‘A Man’s Best Friend’.

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    • StetotheJ

      03/09/2012 at 13:04

      I read that post ages ago, before I’d read any McCarthy, so didn’t really get the connection as much as i would have liked. I’ve seen it in a different light now that i have more understanding, it also had me slightly in mind of Hemingway as well. I have the Border Trilogy so shall get that read sometime soon, after a few jauntier stories maybe.

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  8. philosophermouseofthehedge

    08/09/2012 at 02:24

    Might try reading one of his other books.

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  9. Asha Seth

    21/02/2013 at 13:47

    I like the new appearance with the reddish touch and yes, the huge cover photo too. I am still to read the book. Hoping that too makes to my like-list.

    How’ve you been, Reader?

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    • StetotheJ

      22/02/2013 at 17:00

      I have been following your path recently of having trouble finding the words to write but I think I have it back now, hopefully. A week off work shall do wonders for my enthusiasm I am sure. I like to mix up the colour scheme to keep you interested. I dreamt about you two nights ago, we were in a lecture, not sure what it was on, and we were sharing a textbook. You, me, books, what else would i dream about?

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  10. Zeljka

    20/04/2013 at 21:43

    Good review, Ste! I liked book very much, but you presented well its weak points. And the grammar issue — it seems nobody was very happy with it. I got used to it but if he expresses the same in every book, I’m not sure I’ll give a chance to his other books. At least not very soon!

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    • StetotheJ

      22/04/2013 at 17:34

      It is difficult sometimes, if you get distracted, to remember who was talking, I read No Country For Old Men which was the same, that had more substance to it over all but again I was left under awed by it. I do have The Border Trilogy too to read, I am either a sucker for punishment or great at giving chances…this is the last one though…

      Like

       

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