Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Road

As you can probably tell, I like to read the books of upcoming films and compare the two. I either heard somewhere or read at Wikipedia that "The Road" was being adapted. Somewhere along the lines, I had also read something about a tree of dead fetuses figuring into the story*, and I immediately had to snatch it up and place it in higher priority than other books I've bought long ago but haven't read yet. What? The image was too morbid? Graphic? Are you asking why I'd want to read something like that? Then you're probably pretty limited in your imagination and narrow-minded. I love the most bizarre and unique stories coming from some of the best logical and sensible artists. Writers that usually produce about a novel a month and have "series" and soulless cop or espionage books (ahem....James Patterson....Ted Bell.....) will always turn me away. But the writers who are not afraid to show how disfigured the world can be will always get me. The Toni Morrisons. The Chuck Palahniuks. The Alan Moores. The Vladimir Nabokovs. Latin American authors (some of whom I've written about here). And of course.....

The Cormac McCarthys.

Here we are....An unknown year, or month or day. It's not really clear what season it is, but it's unsensibly cold all around. Everything is covered with ash, destroyed or burnt in McCarthy's Post-Apocalypse. The man and the boy, who are named just that, must walk The Road towards the South if they are to find salvation or help, or at least the man hopes so. The book deals with the many obstacles they must face on their journey, from starvation, to sickness, to shelter, to catamites and bands of cannibals amongst the "nameless and autistic dark".

The language, which some have called Biblical and I poetic, in the novel is nothing short of amazing. McCarthy keeps a fluent objectivity and pierces the reader's physical and emotional sensation with vivid (although sometimes tough) vocabulary and imagery:

"He had this feeling before, beyond the numbness and the dull despair. The world
shrinking down about a raw core of parsible entities. The names of things
slowly following those things into oblivion. Colors. The names of birds. Things to eat. Finally the names of things one believed to be true. More fragile than he would have thought. How much was gone already? The sacred idiom shorn of its referents and so of its reality. Drawing down like something trying to preserve heat. In time to wink out forever." (pg. 88-89, softcover)

Famously, McCarthy uses next to no kind of punctuation marks (question marks, exclamation points, semi-colons, parenthesis), enforcing the deadpan, matter-of-fact feel of the narration. As if, the narrator is viciously indifferent to the extreme poverties the man and the boy have to face.

One problem I've had with the story is that it feels like the plot never moves. Some of the situations and objects that the main characters come across are pretty intriguing, but these are quick blips of special interest in what is otherwise a very slow paced book. Perhaps seeing the story on film (the John Hillcoat adaptation looks pretty flat and unMcCarthy-ish from the trailer, by the way) will make me feel differently about it, but as far as the book goes, I'd advise reading in a relax state in your spare time. Not really a ride-the-train-and-let-your-mind-soar novel.

I would love to start reading "Blood Meridian", which I've bought before "The Road", but "Pygmy" by Chuck Palahniuk has been screaming at me to open it next.

*I was mistaken. It's in another book.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there...stopping in to get caught up with you. Will scroll down and read your past month of entries, tonight.
    I don't know if "enjoy" is word I'd use, but The Road moved me, and affected change in me. My analysis of the lack of punctuation marks--in particular--no apostrophe's--is that he was telling us:
    there is no longer any sense of "possession", no one owns anything. Not a pause, not a breath, not even the silence at the end of a sentence. Very very chilling book.


Bollocks, what's your bloody take on things then?