Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Road Pages 1-102

*Just beforehand, I'd like to take a second to say Cormac McCarthy is brilliant, I highly recommend if you enjoy this story you check out Suttree!

The Road is quite an interesting novel. It's a disaster novel, set in a post apocalyptic world, following a father and his son, as they travel the empty roads in search of something better. The story is told in the third person, which I think adds a great deal. You tend to focus more on the father and the son, and McCarthy doesn't have to reveal to much of their character that way. There is an air of mystery over this novel, and too much one on one with a character's thoughts might would instead become more personal. It makes sense they made this a movie, as when I read it, it played through my imagination as a film.
McCarthy's strong point in this novel is his creation of this magnificent, decrepit world. Of this world, some of his descriptions are:

" the mountains they stood and looked out over the great gulf of the south where the country as far as the eye could see was burned away" (14).
"On the hillsides old crops dead and flattened" (21).
"Desolate country" (17).
"The wet gray flakes twisting and falling out of nothing. Gray slush by the roadside. Black water running from under the sodden drifts of ash" (16).

The list goes on. The world McCarthy throws us into—seemingly unapologetically—is so grim, not even the snow is pretty. Everything about this world is so unsurvivable, which makes the story more suspenseful. How does a man stay alive in this world, let alone keep a child alive?

Another part of the novel which may seem strange to those unfamiliar with McCarthy's work, are the lack of quotation marks. I know through literature classes before McCarthy simply found too much punctuation to be clutter, but it adds to his work in a way that one may not realize. When reading the story, you more than likely do it in some voice, whether mental or verbal. The lack of punctuation marks lends to the flow of the novel. Where punctuation stops our eyes, creates a pause, McCarthy continues with just words, leaving it going in a fluid motion, as if he were telling the story orally. I find this trait of his to be very appealing, and makes the reading quite enjoyable.

The lack of explanation over what happened to create such a barren world creates this air of mystery. In the back of my mind, I kept asking, "What caused all of this?" But, simply put, it's not important. The novel is not about that event, it is about the father and the son struggling to stay alive in the aftermath. If McCarthy spent too much time on the event itself, the novel would lose so much of its quality. The ambiguous nature keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. You want to know but you don't want McCarthy to tell you. Really, I think with this aspect, McCarthy truly perfected this work. It has so much mystery, yet still manages to move forward, never looking back. 

1 comment:

  1. I think that McCarthy doesn't describe what happened as a way to avoid what Baudrillard calls "disaster porn." This is not a narrative in which you revel in seeing society destroyed; it is an elegy for all that is lost...