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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Thoughts: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

By J.R. Wagner

 Note:  This is NOT a review...and has spoilers beware!

I received The Road by Cormac McCarthy as a Christmas gift...and finished it in less than a week.

This dystopian post-apocalyptic story differs from all the others in the genre for several reasons. Most obvious is the quality of the writing. Cormac McCarthy is a poet.

In the night a storm broke in the mountains above them and came cannonading downcountry cracking and booming and the stark gray world appeared again and again out of the night in the shrouded flare of the lightning.

There are no quotations separating dialogue from story.  I suppose his editor/publisher believes he is that good...they were right.

So, when are you going to talk to me again?
I'm talking now.
Are you sure?

In this epic tale about the end of the world, there are two characters.  Huh?  Yes. Two. We don't even know their names.  'The Man' 'The Boy'. That's it. And we follow these two characters as a reality TV show could follow them -in their faces constantly -never more than a few feet away. The one advantage that we as readers have (and will always have) over film is our ability to travel inside the minds of the characters.  McCarthy thrusts us into the mind of The Man and we experience the horrors of his world.

To his credit, the world McCarthy created in The Road is nothing but horrible. There is no redeeming quality to it whatsoever.  It is pure misery, suffering, pain and loss.  Unlike all those other post-apocalyptic novels out there, I had no desire to join The Man and The Boy on their adventure.  It was hard enough to read along even though I knew I could return to our world at any moment. There was no glory, no fun, not even a glimmer of happiness.

So why bother reading something that will ultimately depress the crap out of you?  The Road is about humanity.  It will depress you if you let it.  It will inspire you if you let it.  One man caring for one boy with every fiber of his being despite all the loss around them.  The Man has hope -hope to find a place somewhere down The Road that isn't quite so terrible -where he won't have to worry ever second of every day about whether he and The Boy will be killed.  The Man has love.  He loves The Boy and as is made clear, will do anything to keep him safe -he even goes so far as to try and shelter The Boy from the nightmares they must walk through every day.  Hope. Love. The two most powerful words in the English language -in every language. Everything can be accomplished with hope and love and nothing can be accomplished without them.

If you want to live through a post-apocalyptic world that simply feels closer to what would be a true dystopian setting when compared to all those other stories, read The Road.  You will live through it WITH the characters rather than an observer so, if you are faint of heart or easily downtrodden, I suggest letting this one go.

 To purchase Exiled, option the movie rights, hire me as a writer for the next Blade Runner film, the next Star Wars film...any film! For updates on the soon-to-be-released novella(pictured below), book 2 updates, for videos, fan art, contests and more awesomeness, visit my website (click on the website tab)

New from J.R. Wagner...

A tale of perseverance, strength and redemption.
Coming soon.

In bookstores now

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