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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

October 20, 2008

The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Read it.

That’s pretty much all I have to say.

The Road is a Post-Apocalyptic novel that showcases the opposite of what we see in popular Post-Apocalyptic cinema: love, sympathy, empathy, trust… and other things. It follows a father and his young son, who are trying to survive on little more than love and two bullets. I am used to seeing gun battles and dramatic fights for oil or water after the Apocalypse. That’s not to say that the father and son don’t worry about having oil and water; they definitely do, but that isn’t what drives them. They are “each the other’s world entire” (6) and they are carrying the fire.

Some people don’t distinguish between Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian books or films. I think you have to: in Dystopian literature, the most alarming thing is how the government is lying to you and definitely not behaving in your best interest (1984, Soylent Green, Brave New World).

In Post-Apocalyptic literature, the most alarming thing is anarchy. There is no government to help you out; sometimes people work together towards the common good, and sometimes they don’t (Mad Max series, Steel Dawn). The Road is very much in the same vein. Something catastrophic happened; the Earth became hot with melted asphalt, and is now freezing with ashy snow. Few people are now living, as most people, if they didn’t die in the catastrophe, likely starved. Or, you know, were cannabalized.

This book is short, so there is no reason to avoid reading it. I will leave you with just one excerpt and no analysis (196):

Do you think that your fathers are watching? That they weigh you in their ledgerbook? Against what? There is no book and your fathers are dead in the ground.

P.S. Viggo Mortensen stars in the movie adaptation, which should be released Nov. 26, 2008. Perfect Thanksgiving movie? Huh.

P.P.S. Nick Cave did the music for aforementioned movie… sweet!

P.P.P.S. Just linking to Steel Dawn, I noticed that IMDb users give it an average score of 4.2 of 10. I think it was much better than that! I would have to watch it again to accurately score it. If one says it’s a Mad Max rip-off, then, OK, at least it’s a decent rip-off.


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