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.