Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
New User
cmpalmer
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎08-08-2007
0 Kudos

My Take (Not Entirely Favorable)

Read this book in one day and feel a bit let down. The material, like the burned world being described, is worn out and mostly dead. Been done before. Still the approach is fresh. The prose is well crafted and beautiful, even when describing despair and horror. But the lovely prose can be distracting. Entertaining, but intrusive. The characters, the man and his son, are nameless. Maybe to embody the everyman. Their character comes through strongly but without identity. The voice of author predominates. Who is supposed to be writing this?

Literature professors and literature majors often say, between the lines and never so bluntly, that popular fiction, or genre fiction, or pulp fiction is all plot and no substance. The only skill they attribute to the author is in telling a story for its entertainment value and the highest measure of their writing skill is to not intrude on the story. To be transparent. Real literature to them is about the writing. And ideas, themes, symbols. The magic of words. The plot is not important and the story can be as mundane as someone wandering around a city for a day and returning home. The authorial voice in these books is more important than the voice of the characters. The dont often acknowledge that the best fiction does both. The author speaks through the characters and the plot and the story and the words themselves but doesnt intrude too much. This author is loved by the critics and literarati but is far from transparent.

Everything in the world is burned. The world is grey. Wet ash, gray sky, smoke still, lots of rain. There is no date or explanation for the fire. It is up to the reader. Is this a manuscript left in a drawer that was started in the cold war times? The fire seems nuclear. But ambiguous. Maybe it is the biblical apocalypse of the world destroyed not by water but by fire. Maybe it just seems relevant now due to global warming but even lecturing ex-vicepresidents wouldnt imagine this extreme. All the ex-vicepresidents are dead here though. Everything is dead. No plants grow and the trees crumble to dust if not burned already. No bugs. No animals. When the canned goods ran out people turned to cannibalism.

Who is writing this book? There is no paper. Its all ash or sodden pulp. The man is teaching the boy to read and write as they go south. On the road. Running from winter and slowly starving. Or he was teaching him but as they starve and hide from other horrors the lessons have stopped. If the text is this distinctive surely the author is important. Its not the post literate voice of a surviving culture. Like on my namin day i kilt me a bar. This author uses a large and expressive vocabulary. And short choppy sentences. Fragments. All apostrophes must have been burned in the fires that scorched the world. There are also random wordcontractions. This may be another literary allusion as the man and boy go south to find the snotgreen scrotumtightening sea.

There are few proper names in the book. They are avoided here too. Only God and a man who said his name was Ely are properly named, but Ely said that he was lying and wouldnt tell them his real name.

Dialog is like this.
Are you talking now?
Yes.
Where are we going?
South.
Do you want to die?
Yes.

The road should be capitalized. But it isnt. It’s the everyroad. The road that goes ever on and on. The allroads that leads to that city across the sea that burned while the emperor fiddled and has presumably burned again. They have a roadmap but the names are useless now. They havent seen the sky for maybe eight or nine years. All nights are dark. Quiet. No birds, no animals. They hear rain and thunder. Sometimes trees fall. The road is that path to the sea and also the greatest danger, because they dont know who theyll meet on it.

Perhaps the fire should be capitalized, too. But there are two fire symbols in the book. The fire of destruction or purification that cauterized the world and the fire the man and boy carry. That is the fire to live and the fire of hope and the fire of determination. The ash from both fires is everywhere.

Reading the book in one day is fairly easy. At lunch they set off with their shopping cart. Freezing as they go south. At supper they are avoiding cannibals and finding roasted children on firespits. After a warm bath the man swims naked in the cold sea out to a shipwreck and fills his pockets with whatever he can find. Literary allusions abound. By bedtime there is sadness followed by a little hope and the end.

The book is currently a bookclub choice by a popular television hostess. The world in the book is past television and the boy wouldnt know her name. The man would but wouldnt speak it. Names are past as well. The wires are melted on the tarmac of the road and there wont be television anymore. Ever. The book is about human nature distilled and crystallized by horrible circumstances and about love and hope, but all of these postapocalyptic books are about the same thing. Even the bad ones. This one is very good, but perhaps not great.

The raw rims of the wheels sitting in a stiff gray sludge of melted rubber, in blackened rings of wire. The incinerate corpses shrunk to the size of a child and propped on the bare springs of the seats. Ten thousand dreams ensepulchred within their crozzled hearts. They went on.

That was a quote. Its hard to tell since the quotation marks burned in the fire along with the apostrophes and birds. The book has a lot of that. Horror and beauty. Pretentious and versey.

http://cmpalmer.blogspot.com/2007/05/road-by-cormac-mccarthy.html
Distinguished Bibliophile
Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007
0 Kudos

Re: My Take (Not Entirely Favorable)

I'd say that was a pretty even keeled review. Thanks!
Frequent Contributor
Mariposa
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: My Take (Not Entirely Favorable)

I have read so much on The Road, been in this discussion group a few months ago and did it also in my members only online book group (CafedeiLetterati) and about to do it again (maybe) at SeniorNet (slated for October) but....that was a long intro.....but I thought your comments were worth reading. Thank you. I wish more people would respond.

I found the first reading a bit tedious in that I was on the road with them and it just went on and on and I was getting worn down...but then I slowed down and began to follow them rather than walk with them. I guess the discussions helped me do that. When I slowed down, I could enjoy (if that is the right word) the language better. Appreciate the terrible beauty of the language. Everything is pared down to its crispest.

The most interesting part was when I read some other of McCarthy's books, like Blood Meridian, where the language is so thick and complex. Then you see the genius of the man.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007
0 Kudos

Re: My Take (Not Entirely Favorable)

[ Edited ]
Too true. McCarthy is a wearer of many hats and one certainly sees that as you delve further into his canon.



dianearbus wrote:
I have read so much on The Road, been in this discussion group a few months ago and did it also in my members only online book group (CafedeiLetterati) and about to do it again (maybe) at SeniorNet (slated for October) but....that was a long intro.....but I thought your comments were worth reading. Thank you. I wish more people would respond.

I found the first reading a bit tedious in that I was on the road with them and it just went on and on and I was getting worn down...but then I slowed down and began to follow them rather than walk with them. I guess the discussions helped me do that. When I slowed down, I could enjoy (if that is the right word) the language better. Appreciate the terrible beauty of the language. Everything is pared down to its crispest.

The most interesting part was when I read some other of McCarthy's books, like Blood Meridian, where the language is so thick and complex. Then you see the genius of the man.



Message Edited by PaulH on 08-10-2007 11:31 AM
Users Online
Currently online: 18 members 661 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: