Thursday, December 29, 2022

Finished: McCarthy's 'The Road'

 Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" is just another example of how I don't get it as far as what is considered great literature of modern times.

He won a Pulitzer Prize for it; it was a best-seller; and chosen for Oprah's book club. All together now: Oooh, aaah.

I gave it a 5 on the 10-point Haugenometer.

According to Amazon, whose readers gave it a 4.4 of 5:

A 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 is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

I don't argue that McCarthy is a great author. His shtick of not using commas and quote marks is cute. Heck, I wish it had been the rule of the land when I was kid. Imagine how much easier grammar and composition classes would have been.

But this is just a dull story of a man and boy trekking across barren, burned-out land. They mostly have monosylabic conversations, if you want to call them that. (I think I made that word up.) Nothing profound about it. They don't have names, and you don't know how the world got to this point. If he was going for bleak and boring, mission accomplished. 

McCarthy did a good job of showing probably what a post-apocolyptic world would look like. People not trusting each other, every man for himself kind of thing.

It just didn't do it for me and hardened my resolve to never join the Oprah Book Club.

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