I can’t say that I have ever really immersed myself in poetry. I have dabbled here or there with a limerick or two, even written a haiku in my earlier days for a school project, but never have or will I consider myself a lover of poetry. This book is not poetry, but it’s not a clear and concise narrative either. It falls somewhere in the gray zone and lingers for most of its journey.
Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” is an unsettling post-apocalyptic novel centered on a man and his son and their struggle to survive. McCarthy’s depictions are horrific yet he seems to bring out the beauty amongst the grotesque.
Through his use of language there was no need to be directly told what the subject was on every one of his pages. His work is deliberate, familiar yet uncommon due to his choice of words, and where they are placed. He uses them to tell readers of the texture, tone and colour of his work. Words like “envaccuming,” and phrases like “isoclines of death” were absolutely brilliant. I was allowed to look at the minimal conversations that occurred between father and son, and see clearly the cant of a head nod, the look in the eyes and the ever so faintest curl of a smile.
Unlike anything I have read for some time now, “The Road” is not for the faint of heart. McCarthy pushes his characters through repetitive straddles, similar scenes and perpetual ash thereby pushing us, the readers into taking on the burdens of his characters. The lack of chapter breaks in the novel again another way to not allow readers to escape and take a break. Why should we, when his characters are not allowed one?
“The Road” is not about the end of the world and its not about mans destructions of the planet. It is about a father’s unfaltering love for his child for that matter a parents love for their child. It shows the primal level of survival one will go through to have their needs met sometimes despite your own happiness. I mean, we all can’t be MacGyver, but to a child, we are. It shows us the joys and agony of being a parent.
This dark, ominous book is not a cherry, happy, cotton candy read. It’s cold, scathing, unbending and painful. But there are glimmers of sunshine. Be thankful that this is just a novel, and tonight when you sleep you will be coveted with a bed, shelter, food and water.
If a measure of the likeability of this book is if it has staying power, make no mistake this book will haunt and linger far beyond you placing it down on your coffee table or your night stand. It offers nothing by means of escape or comfort. If asked whether I liked the book, I really don’t have an answer. Do I like feeling the desperation and hopelessness and despair of a father and son? Nope, not really. But do I like the fact that I felt for them? Yes.
In the end, it’s a must read.