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The Road by Cormac McCarthy: A Book Review

Updated on April 22, 2013

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The first time I saw this book I was a bit intrigued. Not because the cover were made of plain black. I'm actually eager to know what's the relevance of the title as "The Road"...

Some would say it is depressing. Sure it is! As I came to read a very few lines or two, it caught my in depth emotions and I started to cry. Shameless to say, I cried unstoppable page after every page. And suddenly I miss my dad!

If you are a parent just imagine yourself traveling with your child in a long, dark, uncertain road with no food to eat, water to drink, and even a shelter to shield the both of you in a stormy night. In the morning, you will feel restless as the coming of days will all be filled with anguish as if you'll never know if it is your last day on earth.

McCarthy's story telling is very much engaging. He writes as a modern day William Faulkner. Totally captivating!

His poetic prose and words adds up the melancholic background in a sense that it takes you into a long journey of a father and a son as they struggle to find hope leading to a lighter way out.

"On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. Query: how does the never to be differ from what never was?"

Listen to The Road Audio Book

Road
Road

Best known for his Border Trilogy, hailed in the San Francisco Chronicle as "an American classic to stand with the finest literary achievements of the century, Cormac McCarthy has written ten rich and often brutal novels, including the bestselling No Country for Old Men, and The Road. Profoundly dark, told in spare, searing prose, The Road is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece, one of the best books we've read this year, but in case you need a second (and expert) opinion, we asked Dennis Lehane, author of equally rich, occasionally bleak and brutal novels, to read it and give us his take. --Daphne Durham

 

Book Description

Cormac McCarthy sets his new novel, The Road, in a post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, a world in which all matter of wildlife is extinct, starvation is not only prevalent but nearly all-encompassing, and marauding bands of cannibals roam the environment with pieces of human flesh stuck between their teeth. If this sounds oppressive and dispiriting, it is.

McCarthy may have just set to paper the definitive vision of the world after nuclear war, and in this recent age of relentless saber-rattling by the global powers, it's not much of a leap to feel his vision could be not far off the mark nor, sadly, right around the corner. Stealing across this horrific (and that's the only word for it) landscape are an unnamed man and his emaciated son, a boy probably around the age of ten. It is the love the father feels for his son, a love as deep and acute as his grief, that could surprise readers of McCarthy's previous work.

McCarthy's Gnostic impressions of mankind have left very little place for love. In fact that greatest love affair in any of his novels, I would argue, occurs between the Billy Parham and the wolf in The Crossing. But here the love of a desperate father for his sickly son transcends all else. McCarthy has always written about the battle between light and darkness; the darkness usually comprises 99.9% of the world, while any illumination is the weak shaft thrown by a penlight running low on batteries.

In The Road, those batteries are almost out--the entire world is, quite literally, dying--so the final affirmation of hope in the novel's closing pages is all the more shocking and maybe all the more enduring as the boy takes all of his father's (and McCarthy's) rage at the hopeless folly of man and lays it down, lifting up, in its place, the oddest of all things: faith.

- - - Amazon Reviews (Dennis Lehane)

The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2008) (Vintage International)
The Road (Movie Tie-in Edition 2008) (Vintage International)

Some would say it is depressing. Sure it is! As I came into read a very few lines or two, it caught my in depth emotions and I started to cry. Shameless to say, I cried unstoppable page after every page. And suddenly I miss my dad!

 

YES or NO - Write a review, add a comment, or debate someone who disagrees with you.

Do you want to see the movie version of The Road?

Of course, I can't wait!

Of course, I can't wait!

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    • anonymous 6 years ago

      yes

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      I really want to read this but I hate holding a book open , im going to have to get it as a mp3 lol, i cant wait to read this. Id love to see a graphic novel of this . ^^

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      The book was amazing! Viggo and Charlize are great actors. I can't wait to see the movie. I just hope that they follow the book as closely as possible. It deserves that justice.

    • NAIZA LM 8 years ago

      DEFINITELY!

      I really can't wait.. :-)

    Sorry, not my cup of tea.

      0 of 8192 characters used
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      • anonymous 5 years ago

        nigger

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Seriously? I hated the book. I was excited to read it. I was required to read the first fifty pages for class tomorrow and couldnt stop so i finished it tonight. Im pissed. What was the point of that? The whole time I was waiting to find out that the boy was just the mans imagination. Or maybe the dad would have to kill the boy himself. Or at least some sort of turning point. I kept trying to guess the ending and failed when really thinking logically it was the only ending that you could easily expect to be bored by. I kept waiting to hear more about the fire they were carrying, and whatever the deal was with the boys mother. did she just kill herself? thats it? Also what the heck is with all the made up words. That was driving me crazy. like it was supposed to be some sort of modernized shakespearian iambic pentameter crap. I like made up words just as much as the next person but maybe one or two per novel is the max. Not 2 or more per sentance. This book could have been so much better. and what is so special about the father son relationship? They barely speak and when they do it is I dont know what do you think. sprinkled with some Are we still the good guys? Sure an interesting question the first time I read it and then it just became monotonous. We get it, you doubt your motives. And really i think it is fairly safe to assume that several other father son pairs had the exact same situation where the father repeatedly risked himself for the son. Nothing new there.

        So was the kid a god? What was the fire they were carrying? I am extremely frustrated that I have spent so much time reading this novel. What on earth was the point? I could have spent that time appreciating the color and life and food and warmth in my pre-apocolyptic world. Did I miss something great and philosphical? To me it just seemed like a morbid ugly picture to look at. I understand that painfull and upsetting images like the raft of the medusa or what have you are much more interesting than unicorns kissing in a field but at least the raft of the medusa has a hint of beauty and balance and skill in it. In the road the only images I got were hideously ugly and morbid. A charred baby infant half eaten. Seriously? This is what you call a masterpiece. This is definetly not my favorite novel.

        Not for me at all.

        Severly disapointed.

        Severly disapointed

        yes JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWSSSSSSSSSSSS

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        cormack likes donkey dong

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        book was shit

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Seriously? I hated the book. I was excited to read it. I was required to read the first fifty pages for class tomorrow and couldnt stop so i finished it tonight. Im pissed. What was the point of that? The whole time I was waiting to find out that the boy was just the mans imagination. Or maybe the dad would have to kill the boy himself. Or at least some sort of turning point. I kept trying to guess the ending and failed when really thinking logically it was the only ending that you could easily expect to be bored by. I kept waiting to hear more about the fire they were carrying, and whatever the deal was with the boys mother. did she just kill herself? thats it? Also what the heck is with all the made up words. That was driving me crazy. like it was supposed to be some sort of modernized shakespearian iambic pentameter crap. I like made up words just as much as the next person but maybe one or two per novel is the max. Not 2 or more per sentance. This book could have been so much better. and what is so special about the father son relationship? They barely speak and when they do it is I dont know what do you think. sprinkled with some Are we still the good guys? Sure an interesting question the first time I read it and then it just became monotonous. We get it, you doubt your motives. And really i think it is fairly safe to assume that several other father son pairs had the exact same situation where the father repeatedly risked himself for the son. Nothing new there.

        So was the kid a god? What was the fire they were carrying? I am extremely frustrated that I have spent so much time reading this novel. What on earth was the point? I could have spent that time appreciating the color and life and food and warmth in my pre-apocolyptic world. Did I miss something great and philosphical? To me it just seemed like a morbid ugly picture to look at. I understand that painfull and upsetting images like the raft of the medusa or what have you are much more interesting than unicorns kissing in a field but at least the raft of the medusa has a hint of beauty and balance and skill in it. In the road the only images I got were hideously ugly and morbid. A charred baby infant half eaten. Seriously? This is what you call a masterpiece. This is definetly not my favorite novel.

        Not for me at all.

        Severly disapointed.

        Severly disapointed.

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      Cormac McCarthy Interview

      Visit Cormac McCarthy's OFFICIAL SITE - don't miss it!

      Bookshop Updates! More Coming Soon

      We've just added two new items to the Bookshop: John Cant's Cormac McCarthy and the Myth of American Exceptionalism, and Shane Schimpf's newly revised Reader's Guide to Blood Meridian. We also regret to inform you that Myth, Legend, Dust has gone out of print for the time being; it will, however, be replaced soon with a new, expanded edition. Visit the Bookshop to order or to read more about the new titles; click the link at left.

      Society members have just received a new edition of the Cormac McCarthy Newsletter; for those of you not in the Society, information contained therein about our fall conference in San Marcos and about next year's international conference in Stratford Upon Avon will be posted here shortly. For more about the Society, click the Society or Join links to your left.

      More Books from the Author Cormac McCarthy

      No Country for Old Men (Vintage International)
      No Country for Old Men (Vintage International)

      In No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines.

       
      Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West
      Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

      An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridianbrilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the "wild west."  Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

       
      All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1)
      All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, Book 1)

      Now a major motion picture from Columbia Pictures starring Matt Damon, produced by Mike Nichols, and directed by Billy Bob Thornton.The national bestseller and the first volume in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself.  With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.  Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

       
      The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, the Crossing, Cities of the Plain (Everyman's Library)
      The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, the Crossing, Cities of the Plain (Everyman's Library)

      (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)Available together in one volume for the first time, the three novels of Cormac McCarthy's award-winning and bestselling Border Trilogy constitute a genuine American epic.Beginning with All the Pretty Horses and continuing through The Crossing and Cities of the Plain, McCarthy chronicles the lives of two young men coming of age in the Southwest and Mexico, poised on the edge of a world about to change forever. Hauntingly beautiful, filled with sorrow and humor, The Border Trilogy is a masterful elegy for the American frontier.

       
      Suttree
      Suttree

      By the author of Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, Suttree is the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville.  Remaining on the margins of the outcast community there--a brilliantly imagined collection of eccentrics, criminals, and squatters--he rises above the physical and human squalor with detachment, humor, and dignity.

       
      The Crossing (The Border Trilogy, Book 2)
      The Crossing (The Border Trilogy, Book 2)

      In The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy fulfills the promise of All the Pretty Horses and at the same time give us a work that is darker and more visionary, a novel with the unstoppable momentum of a classic western and the elegaic power of a lost American myth.In the late 1930s, sixteen-year-old Billy Parham captures a she-wolf that has been marauding his family's ranch.  But instead of killing it, he decides to take it back to the mountains of Mexico.  With that crossing, he begins an arduous and often dreamlike journey into a country where men meet ghosts and violence strikes as suddenly as heat-lightning--a world where there is no order "save that which death has put there."An essential novel by any measure, The Crossing is luminous and appalling, a book that touches, stops, and starts the heart and mind at once.

       
      Cities of the Plain: Border Trilogy (3)
      Cities of the Plain: Border Trilogy (3)

      In this magnificent new novel, the National Book Award-winning author of All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing fashions a darkly beautiful elegy for the American frontier.  The setting is New Mexico in 1952, where John Grady Cole and Billy Parham are working as ranch hands. To the North lie the proving grounds of Alamogordo; to the South, the twin cities of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. Their life is made up of trail drives and horse auctions and stories told by campfire light. It is a life that is about to change forever, and John Grady and Billy both know it. The catalyst for that change appears in the form of a beautiful, ill-starred Mexican prostitute.  When John Grady falls in love, Billy agrees--against his better judgment--to help him rescue the girl from her suavely brutal pimp. The ensuing events resonate with the violence and inevitability of classic tragedy.   Hauntingly beautiful, filled with sorrow, humor and awe, Cities of the Plain is a genuine American epic.

       
      Child of God
      Child of God

      In this taut, chilling novel, Lester Ballard--a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape--haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail.  While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.

       
      Outer Dark
      Outer Dark

      Outer Dark is a novel at once fabular and starkly evocative, set is an unspecified place in Appalachia, sometime around the turn of the century.  A woman bears her brother's child, a boy; he leaves the baby in the woods and tells her he died of natural causes.  Discovering her brother's lie, she sets forth alone to find her son.  Both brother and sister wander separately through a countryside being scourged by three terrifying and elusive strangers, headlong toward an eerie, apocalyptic resolution.

       
      The Gardener's Son
      The Gardener's Son

      In the Spring of 1975 the film director Richard Pearce approached Cormac McCarthy with the idea of writing a screenplay. Though already a widely acclaimed novelist, the author of such modern classics as The Orchard Keeper and Child of God, McCarthy had never before written a screenplay. Using nothing more than a few photographs in the footnotes to a 1928 biography of a famous pre-Civil War industrialist as inspiration, the author and Pearce together roamed the mill towns of the South researching their subject. One year later McCarthy finished The Gardener's Son,a taut, riveting drama of impotence, rage, and ultimately violence spanning two generations of mill owners and workers, fathers and sons, during the rise and fall of one of America's most bizarre utopian industrial experiments. Produced as a two-hour film and broadcast on PBS in 1976, The Gardener's Son recieved two Emmy Award nominations and was shown at the Berlin and Edinburgh Film Festivals. This is the first appearance of the film script in book form.Set in Graniteville, South Carolina, The Gardener's Son is the tale of two families: the Greggs, a wealthy family that owns and operates the local cotton mill, and the McEvoys, a family of mill workers beset by misfortune. The action opens as Robert McEvoy, a young mill worker, is having his leg amputated -- the limb mangled in an accident rumored to have been caused by James Gregg, son of the mill's founder. McEvoy, crippled and isolated, grows into a man with a "troubled heart"; consumed by bitterness and anger, he deserts both his job and his family. Returning two years later at the news of his mother's terminal illness, Robert McEvoy arrives only to confront the grave diggers preparing her final resting place. His father, the mill's gardener, is now working on the factory line, the gardens forgotten. These proceedings stoke the slow burning rage McEvoy carries within him, a fury that ultimately consumes both the McEvoys and the Greggs.

       
      Cormac McCarthy's Western Novels
      Cormac McCarthy's Western Novels

      In the continuing redefinition of the American West, few recent writers have left a mark as indelible as Cormac McCarthy. A favorite subject of critics and fans alike despite--or perhaps because of--his avoidance of public appearances, the man is known solely through his writing. Thanks to his early work, he is most often associated with a bleak vision of humanity grounded in a belief in man's primordial aggressiveness. McCarthy scholar Barcley Owens has written the first book to concentrate exclusively on McCarthy's acclaimed western novels: Blood Meridian, National Book Award winner All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain. In a thought-provoking analysis, he explores the differences between Blood Meridian and the Border Trilogy novels and shows how those differences reflect changing conditions in contemporary American culture. Owens captures both Blood Meridian's wanton violence and the Border Trilogy's fond remembrance of the Old West. He shows how this dramatic shift from atavistic brutality to nostalgic Americana suggests that McCarthy has finally given his readers what they most want--the stuff of their mythic dreams. Owens's study is both an incisive look at one of our most important and demanding authors and a penetrating analysis of violence and myth in American culture. Fans of McCarthy's work will find much to consider for ongoing discussions of this influential body of work.

       
      Cormac McCarthy: American Canticles (American Literature Readings in the 21st Century)
      Cormac McCarthy: American Canticles (American Literature Readings in the 21st Century)

      This book is a guide to Cormac McCarthy's canon from The Road to All the Pretty Horses, delving into the dominant themes in his work, his influences from Faulkner to Dante, and the current cultural debates his books have figured into.

       
      The Pastoral Vision of Cormac McCarthy (Tarleton State University Southwestern Studies in the Humanities)
      The Pastoral Vision of Cormac McCarthy (Tarleton State University Southwestern Studies in the Humanities)

      Georg Guillemin's visionary approach to the work of Western novelist Cormac McCarthy combines an overall survey of McCarthy's eight novels in print with a comprehensive analysis of the author's evolving ecopastoralism. Using in-depth textual interpretations, Guillemin argues that even McCarthy's early work is characterized less by traditional nostalgia for a lost pastoral order than by a radically egalitarian land ethic that prefigures today's ecopastoral tendencies in Western American writing. The study shows that more than any of the other landscapes evoked by McCarthy, the Southwestern desert becomes the stage for his dramatizations of a wild sense of the pastoral. McCarthy's fourth novel, Suttree, which is the only one set in an urban environment, is used in the introductory chapter to discuss the relevant compositional aspects of his fiction and the methodology of the chapters to come. The main part of the study devotes chapters to McCarthy's Southern novels, his keystone work Blood Meridian, and the Western novels known as the Border Trilogy. The concluding chapter discusses the broader context of American pastoralism and suggests that McCarthy's ecopastoralism is animistic rather than environmentalist in character. Increasingly, man ceases to be the dominant focus of narration, so that the shift from an egocentric to an ecocentric sense of self marks both the heroes and the narrators of McCarthy's novels.

       
      Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses: A Reader's Guide (Continuum Contemporaries)
      Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses: A Reader's Guide (Continuum Contemporaries)

      This is part of a new series of guides to contemporary novels. The aim of the series is to give readers accessible and informative introductions to some of the most popular, most acclaimed and most influential novels of recent years – from ‘The Remains of the Day’ to ‘White Teeth’. A team of contemporary fiction scholars from both sides of the Atlantic has been assembled to provide a thorough and readable analysis of each of the novels in question.

       

      The Road Book Review

      by Jack Kerouac

      "On the Road" is a novel that makes the reader want to go out there, seize the day, and live, live, live! Jack Kerouac, creator of the "beat generation" best sums up his philosophy as "everything belongs to me because i am poor". The failure of ideology and of the American Dream in the 1960s gave young dreamers who were eager to live just one way out: the road.

      Kerouac presents Sal Paradise, a young and innocent writer, and Dean Moriarty, a crazy youth "tremendously excited with life" racing around America, and testing the limits of the American Dream. Their journeys consist of scenes of rural wilderness, sleepy small towns, urban jungles, endless deserts-all linked by the road, the outlet of a generation's desire and inner need to get out, break its confinement, and find freedom, liberated from any higher belief, notion, or ideology. The desperation and the lack of fulfillment made these youths feel that "the only thing to do was go", searching for their personal freedom, and finding pleasure in sex, drugs, and jazz.

      It seems that the "beat generation" had one and only ideology, and that was life. As Sal Paradise says: "life is holy and every moment is precious", which explains why Dean" seemed to be doing everything at the same time". The fear of death subconsciously followed the gang around America, as expressed by their visions of a spirit following them across the desert of life.

      Wasn't the "beat generation" a particularly wise and enlightened one then? Isn't it true that every human being's greatest fear is that death will come too soon, before he/she has time to do what he/she had always wanted to do? Isn't it always too soon?

      Even though the gang feared that "death will overtake us before Heaven" they did all in their power to experience as much of Heaven as they could while still alive. They were wise enough to see that there was no point in conforming with the materialism of the American Dream: "the mad dream-grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying just so they could be buried in those awful cemetery cities beyond Long Island City".

      It is for this reason that Kerouac presents the "beat generation" as a "holy" generation: because it was liberated from the peril of ambition, materialism and ideology, and was in a constant search for some greater truth that life would teach them. Ed Dunkel, the tall, silent, lost boy is described as "an angel of a man". Dean Moriarty, the personification of the road was a "holy con-man" with a "holy lightning" gaze. By the end of the novel, Dean achieves so high a level of saintliness that "he couldn't talk any more".

      "On the Road" is a novel of experience; it tells tales of madness played out by all kinds of strange characters, in settings as diverse as a Virginia small-town diner, a New York jazz-joint, and a Mexican whore-house. What connects these adventures is the characters' refusal to miss out on life,and their determination to get the most out of now. (read more Nabou.com Book Reviews)


      The Road (Book) by Cormac McCarthy by Naiza Oclares is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
      Based on a work at www.squidoo.com.

      Have you already read The Road? - Tell us what you think!

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        • GuyB LM profile image

          GuyB LM 4 years ago

          The book was full of laughs. I found it to be a light hearted tale and a great beach book.

        • Paki Bazar profile image

          Paki Bazar 5 years ago

          nice topic i enjoyed it reading

          keep it up

        • jtmcwill profile image

          jtmcwill 5 years ago

          love this book! great review.

        • natashaely profile image

          natashaely 6 years ago

          Great page and this sounds like an amazing book. I am impressed with the amount of detail you have gone into. I have put this up for the vote in my reading group and I am sure it will do excellently. i look forward to reading it! Thanks :)

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

          nice review and good lens.. enjoyed.

        • RuthCoffee profile image

          RuthCoffee 8 years ago

          I've read a couple of his books previous to this but actually hadn't heard too much about this one. Interesting, I'm adding to my list to read.