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The Road - Cormac McCarthy - RobRoy - July 16th, 2007

I'm sitting in a resturaunt with my wife. On the table is The Road by Cormac McCarthy which I just purchased from Borders. The waiter comes over to take our drink orders, see the book and comments, "That's a really trippy book. I think the guy was on acid or something." I smile. I know he is not thinking of this book. He is thinking of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. He leaves. I laugh. My wife asks why I'm laughing. I explain. She laughs too.

McCarthy's The Road is a very simple book. The titular setting is a road in an any-place, any-future post-apoclyptic world. What happened and why is unimportant. The is or survival, of a father and son on their way "south", is the import of the story.

Gripping only barely describes this book. McCarthy refrains from burdening (as it can be for some) his story with quotation mark say and respond dialogue. Instead, the dialogue is part of the paragraph, or a paragraph all its own, with the emotional/physical response given in kind. At first, this broke me from the text, but only at first. As soon as I caught on to the style, it flowed like the ash that is ever-present in McCarthy's world.

We are given insight into fear, and starvation, and concern on a primal level. There is good and evil in the book, at times easy to see, and at times swirling around us in a confusing pattern. The father has one goal: to see his son to somewhere safe, which as the book progresses, seems almost impossible, and yet we hope and fear, with this single parent in his desolate world.

And from this, it seems, we can take a lesson to heart in our own world of plenty. The Road isn't a cautionary tale about nuclear or environmental holocaust. That can be found almost anywhere in the literature, movies and art of the last sixty years. Instead, McCarthy relates a human concern about the uncertainty of growing up, growing old and the burden/blessing of raising a child . . . even in a world as dismal as The Road.

Definately buy this book. It's worth reading more than once.