A father and son walk down a broken highway in an America scarred with devastation. The world is burnt, food is scarce and scavengers are plenty, looking for new victims to feed their survival. The highway is called ‘The Road’, and it is the same name given to Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
The Road is a book that cannot be read without emotion. With the most austere language, McCarthy manages to convey meaning in a world where meaning is lost. Through the ashen wasteland, he whispers such prose that resounds as an echo in emptiness. He writes ‘All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain.’ And it is this pain that holds father and son together, and it is their pain that holds us to their eventual grace and beauty.
As the author of the Oscar winning No Country for Old Men, McCarthy is well known for his visions of the modern cowboy. Here he tackles similar ground – the loneliness and solitude of America – yet transposed to a post-apocalyptic world. There are still the same desperate characters, yet coupled with the urgency of survival, McCarthy pares down man to the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The Road has the atmosphere of a horror novel, yet in removing the typical supernatural elements, it hints those most capable of horror are our fellow men and women. It confronts us to our true fears, that if we were left with nothing, what would we do to survive? Would we still abide by a universal moral code, or would we excuse ourselves from morality in favor of survival?
It is almost impossible to review a book that is so well respected, and already well acknowledged as a contemporary classic. If you have read The Road, you have wept silently for its nameless heroes. If you have not read The Road, then you must, for you too will weep at its beauty.
Have you read The Road? What did you think? Post your comments below.