Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Webpage: Cormac McCarthy
Print Length: 268 pages
Synopsis: A father and his young son walk through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind and the occasional "bad guy". They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the men who stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food - and each other.
I have tried reading one of McCarthy’s books before, Blood Meridian, but gave up after a while. It turned into a road story, and generally I do not like road stories. In addition, McCarthy seems to have this thing about punctuation – he does not use it, especially apostrophes and quote marks; this does not make reading his novels easy. It is my view that authors should help their readers through their stories rather than make their reading experience more difficult. So why did I read The Road? It is very obviously a road story and McCarthy does not seem to know about punctuation in this book either. Well I suppose it is because I have seen clips of the film and it looks interesting (now I need to watch it), the title intrigued me, as did the cover and it was not until I picked the book up that I realised that it was written by McCarthy. Nevertheless, I thought I would give it a go. It has to be said the lack of quote marks does not help the narrative. For some of the quote-markless dialogue it was not always clear who was speaking, but actually the dialogue is not that important to the story, so I was able to gloss over that difficulty. Indeed the characters, i.e. the people, are not that important either. It could be any two people walking the road and the story would be similar. The important “characters” are the landscape and the weather. And the dismal environment through which the man and the boy walk is very well presented. But the most important aspect of the novel, for me, was the tension. And this is what kept me going – the constant need to find out what was around the next corner, or over the next ridge and what would happen to the man and the boy each time they stopped and camped, and each time they came across another apparently abandoned house or town. Throughout the story the tension was palpable and kept me turning the pages.
What others thought
Amazon.co.uk; 1,180 reviews, of which 87% were 3* or more, giving an average of 4.3*
Amazon.com; 4,501 reviews, of which 83% were 3* or more, giving an average of 4.1*
Goodreads.com; 581,187 ratings (40,004 reviews), with 97% of 3* or more, giving an average of 3.96*
Other novels by the same author (Click on the image to go to Amazon for more details)