The Road

the-roadA week or two ago I was left blown away by No Country for Old Men. Reading The Road, I am left wondering how I missed Cormac McCarthy for so long. Set in some kind of post-apocalyptic landscape (that serves as both a warning of a future following a nuclear or environmental disaster and also as an image of our current desolate and poisoned state), The Road is a novel in which both nothing and everything happens. A father and son travel southwards through the literal and moral wasteland for purposes that are not entirely clear. But they have to keep moving, avoiding the lawless and murderous gangs that roam the country, guarding their supplies and constantly on the very brink of survival. Things happen, things don’t happen, the even pace of the narrative reflecting the endless monotony, yet remaining gripping as a piece of writing. Once again McCarthy’s style is economic – he never tells you too much, but just enough for you to grasp the narrative with a bit of work. It is a novel that is both lyrical and unembellished, harrowing and touching, tragic and comic. It is depressing and remains so, yet even if its ending is not uplifting, it shows that humanity never becomes completely hopeless – wherever there is life, there’s a chance. The Road is a masterly piece of writing which seems to work so well exactly because of the so many contradictions it embraces.

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