Another gushing review, this time of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which actually makes my enthusiasm kind of ironic since that book is bleak as fuck. SPOILER ALERT: EVERYTHING IS AWFUL IN THIS WORLD…..
The Road by Comac McCarthy is unflinching, unrelenting and unforgiving, typical then from literature’s finest purveyor of nihilism and all things bleak. This time the near- apocalyptic dread and decay of McCarthy’s work is made literal, an unknown blight has scoured the earth, reducing all to ash and dust. What remains can barely even be called existence so hopeless is it, all vestiges of humanity and society mere memories. Even the protagonists, a father and his son, are simply referred to as Man and Boy.
This is as bleak and harrowing as McCarthy gets, or any literature for that matter, yet that is its very life-force, its essence; such depths of despair, such desolation in a world where all that remains of man is his lust for conflict and suffering make for truly riveting reading. For a narrative that’s as tenuous as the protagonists grip on hope it is stunningly immersive, a page turner to end all page turners, a story stripped down to the core of human existence: survival, lacking plot it gets by on skill and suspense, using only what it needs.
Often all it needs is McCarthy, so magnificent is his control over the word, crafting a world that should never exist but in these pages does. It is a sight to behold, to see a writer execute his craft with such control and vision, he drags you along his journey and you are helpless to submit, a passenger as this duo, an incredibly simple yet infitinely powerful pair, traverse the road, an experience closer to a tightrope walk such are the dangers posed by their fellow man. Encounters with them are so fleeting and usually so brutal that they quickly become nightmare figures, dehumanised and almost alien so far removed are they from modern society. Yet you never cease to believe in the terror they evoke, not when you feel it too.
Yet ultimately this is redemptive too, a small flashing light at the end of an endless tunnel, there but unreachable. Out of such loss and destruction McCarthy’s characters are paragons of humanity, walking monuments to its undefeatable, indefatigable nature. This is mankind at both its worst and best, defiant in the face of self-wrought suffering.
This is quite simply one of the finest novels of the century, proof of Cormac McCarthy’s craft, he evokes a beauty that is as terrible as it is compelling, envisions a world both frighteningly real and creatively rich and weaves a narrative that is truly mesmerising. One of the finest works by one of our finest living authors, now where’s that Nobel nod?