Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country For Old Men, provides a glimpse of the journey of a father and his young son along a never-ending road twisting through the post-apocalyptic landscape of America.
While the book has been widely revered for its prose and tipped to become an American masterpiece, its lack of grammar and lengthy sentences pose the risk of irritating the reader. Although such a style may have been employed by McCarthy to encapsulate the depression and hopelessness of the protagonist’s journey, at times it feels jarring and intrusive. Mediocre actions are extensively described while other things are neglected all together.
This may of course be justified by some as McCarthy attempting to show the protagonist’s telescopic vision, his focus solely being given to each task at hand in order to avoid dwelling on the world that has been lost, but the repetition of such a lapse has a somewhat disastrous effect as it has a negative impact on the empathy you feel toward the father.
If such style irritations can be overlooked, the story that remains still lacks direction and resolution; do not read this book under false pretences. The Road shies away from giving away too much, if any, information. The father and son remain nameless throughout whilst the cause for the destruction they endure is never explained.
The lack of direction, the constant worry and the story’s final moments all make for a draining book. The life of the human race is a harsh one on the road, everything is ash-covered and food is scarce. The first hundred pages portray the miserable world that has survived attack and the length to which the father and son rely upon each other.
The book does provide some interesting insights regarding the reliability of one man’s truth. The boy relies on his father for an apt picture of reality and of the world that once was and the father’s concerns regarding this are sometimes touching. The son slowly begins to lose faith in the world they are trapped in and this perhaps provides the most chilling aspect of the book.
In The Road some people have found an intense emotional experience whilst others have felt a deep connection with the father-son bond. I, on the other hand, was confronted with a nigh-pointless book that failed to capture my interest. I felt little connection to the fate of the father and son, found the apocalyptic landscapes experienced undemonstrative and can only hope that the new film adaptation injects some life into this lifeless book.