Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pulitzer Project: The Road

If you're looking for a book to cheer you up, The Road isn't it. I'm going to make this review short and simple: the writing is superb, the book itself is beyond depressing. Which actually isn't much of a suprise, considering it's by Cormac McCarthy, author of such other cheery works as No Country for Old Men.

I will give McCarthy points for getting one thing right with a post-apocalyptic novel. One of my pet peeves are the authors who seem to think it would be possible to scrounge indefinitely in the ruins of grocery stores and abandoned houses for canned goods and other supplies. McCarthy actually talks about rusting and bulging cans and stuff no longer being usable. It's also a very readable book. I can remember picking up one of McCarthy's earlier novels and never finishing it. That didn't happen this time: The Road sucks you right in, and the next thing you know you've read the whole thing.

The Road is supposedly being released as a movie in October of this year. Considering that the plot makes The Postman and most other post-apocalyptic stories seem like buddy comedies in comparison, I'm not sure who's going to go see it -- especially when the cast list includes such fun roles as Cannibal #1, Baby Eater, and Well-Fed Cannibal -- but maybe casting Viggo Mortenson and Charlize Theron will guarantee enough ticket sales to at least pay production costs.

LegalMist is reading The Road, too, and will be posting a review soon (if it's not up already). I'm curious to see if her response to the novel differs much from mine.

[Would my reaction have been different if I hadn't just come off that week of jury duty on a trial that involved a double homicide? I don't know. I do know I was depressed when that sad affair ended, and The Road did nothing to improve my mood.]


  1. The Road goes on my need to read list. I think I've read most all of McCarthy's other books. And the most brilliant casting ever was the group in No Country for Old Men. And it wasn't a terribly cheery book or movie. Cheery isn't what I look for in books or film. Good writing is always the starting point for both.

  2. Utah - have to agree. I'd much rather read a superbly written book with a troubling or depressing plotline than waste my time on cheerful dreck. McCarthy definitely can write, and I may go back and give something else of his a try -- but not for awhile.

  3. I read a lot of SF, and did so back in the 50's and 60's when not many other people my age were doing so.

    Another one that might suit you is Miller's "A Canticle for Liebowitz". It's back in print, I still re-read it about once a year.

    I remember a review of the book when it came out. There was something that even science fiction people thought was too much, this device was impossible, they said.

    About ten years ago I saw this impossible thing advertised.

  4. If you are looking for some good factual reading try the Dana Fuller Ross books about the forming of this country.

    There is a 24 book series called Wagons West, and some follow ups, damn good reading if you sort it out right.

  5. Depressing book? Yep. Fantastic writing? Absolutely.

    Loved this book. The trailer for the movie makes it look like a fast paced action film....which the book is definitely NOT.

    Hopefully the actual film gets it right. It should. The director is named John Hillcoat....and he made an absolutely spectacular sort-of Western a few years ago called The Proposition. If you haven't seen it, you should.


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