The Road by Cormac McCarthy

6288A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.


The Road starts in a post-apocalyptic world that explains very little if any of what the apocalyptic event was. Father and son are traveling through burned America. The land is full of ash and devoid of life, so to avoid the harsh winter, father and son set out to the coast. They have minimal possessions except for a revolver to protect them from “the bad guys”–the cannibals. Father and son endure several episodes of starvation and struggles trying to survive until they reach the coast.

The Road is a small book I read in a couple of hours. It’s a relatively simple book with a minimal plot. I was astounded to find out it had won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2007. Even more surprising to me was the amount of five and four-star reviews this book received on Goodreads.

One thing I love about literary fiction is its ability to free-flow and not follow grammatical rules to dictate its pursuit of more poetic prose. Unfortunately, I didn’t think this book was particularly poetic. McCarthy took a lot of freedom in his writing. Sometimes it worked, but for the majority of the book, it didn’t. I was annoyed at his lack of parentheses and lack of dialogue attribute, which made understanding who was saying what difficult at times. As far as dialogue goes the ones in this book were the simplest I’ve read in a long time.

Can I ask you something?

Yes. Of course.

Are we going to die?

Sometime. Not now.

And we’re still going south.

Yes.

So we’ll be warm.

Yes.

Okay.

Okay what?

Nothing. Just okay.

Go to sleep.

Okay.

The fact that The Road offers no answers whatsoever did not bother me at all. One redeeming quality of this novel was the bond between father and son. In a world where nothing is left, all they had were their love for each other.

You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.

I’m ready to forget this novel–wait! I already did.


Format: Kindle, 324 pages.
Published: March 20th, 2007 by Vintage (first published September 26th, 2006)
ASIN: B000OI0G1Q
Source: Library loan
Rating: 2 stars
Genre: Literary Fiction, Sci-Fi

14 thoughts on “The Road by Cormac McCarthy

  1. I had a friend who picked up The Road recently and sent me a picture of the same dialogue you quoted with the caption “what is even going on??” It really seems to be a book people either love or hate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been a while since I read it but I did like it, especially for its bleakness and its overbearing sense of hopelessness. Yet, McCarthy probably won the Pulitzer less for this specific book and more for his complete body of work, figuring the old fart wasn’t getting any younger. You probably already have, but if one who hasn’t wants to read him at his best – and bleakest – then I suggest one go for Blood Meridian. Talk about bleak – yikes. The Judge is one of my favorite characters in literature. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Murielle Cyr

    I loved the book. Yes, it’s bleak, but there’s a message of hope. Throughout the long journey, the father repeatedly warns his son to trust no one, but it’s the boy’s insistence on trusting others that guarantees his survival in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

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