Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Road

I didnt want to read it.

So dont.

His apostrophe use is both incorrect and inconsistent. He'd. Dont. Um.

Thats bad. Shouldve or maybe should've edited the book. Or written it better.

Where are we going, he said.

I dont know.

This book seems to have no purpose. I'd read it if it had a purpose.



Or, to summarize: Cormac McCarthy's The Road is what I'd describe as a one-cigarette book. My patience for it, in short, lasted just as long as it took me to smoke one American Spirit (and that's a slow-smoking cigarette; I gave it a fair shake). Why the mindset and thinking process of the clearly pre-apocalyptically educated protagonist of the story needs to be represented with sentences that would shame a kindergartner* is beyond me; I can see how the style is supposed to enhance and inform the subject matter, and the brutally sparse landscape, but I can't see that it works. The New York Times describes the book as being "written with stripped-down urgency"; yes. So is a McDonald's menu, but no one ever accused that of being "an exquisitely bleak incantation" - although, come to think of it, that's not too far off the mark.

I agreed with the NYT review on one point and one point alone: that Cormac McCarthy has "high standards for despair." He does indeed set a high standard for despair. I despaired within 15 pages, which is pretty much a record for me.

It's hard to give this book a star rating, since I couldn't make it through the whole thing; the portion I did read, and the flip-book style overview I took of the rest, earn it one. I hear that there are cannibals later on, which immediately elevates it to two stars and yet does not provide sufficient temptation to read further. If the cannibals had appeared earlier in the story, say on page one, and had eaten the main characters and then themselves, leaving no one alive to be written about - well, that would have been one cigarette well spent.

Final verdict: two stars, one for McCarthy's stamina in typing so many apostrophe-less contractions and one for the cannibals.

* Anyone who wants to debate Cormac McCarthy's style with me, and try to convince me that it's just so avant-garde and post-whatever that I don't get it, bring it on. I can strike a facile, post-feminist, post-postmodern post-structuralist intellectual pose with the best of 'em. And yes, I know what that means. Do you? Hah. Loser.


  1. Wow, can't be saved by cannibals, eh? Harsh.

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