But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Look, I'll admit it. I'm a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy and have read every (I mean EVERY) book, play, screenplay, and piece of short fiction (Wake for Susan , A Drowning Incident ) he has written. While 'The Road' is not his very best (Go read 'Suttree' or 'Blood Meridian' if you are looking for the late 20th Century's answer to Herman Melville and William Faulkner). 'The Road' is a very approachable McCarthy and loses none of McCarthy's prose stylings, while at the same time making his writing more palatable to the average mass-fiction reader.
So, if you haven't read McCarthy before, this is a good first stop, but please DEAR GOD, don't let this be your only or your last stop. Read McCarthy more, read McCarthy often, or the kid gets it.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (fiction) - This book won the Pulitzer Price for fiction in 2007. I suppose I can understand why, but that doesn't mean it's enjoyable listening. A man and his young son (referred to as "the man" and "the boy" in the book) are wandering southward in a post-apocalyptic America. They push their shopping basket of food and supplies and struggle to stay warm, safe and find food. The situation seems true to what I would expect it to be. The reader is never told what year it is, where the characters are or what caused the apocalypse, but there are ashes everywhere, hardly any vegetation and no animals. I kept waiting for that information to be revealed, but it never was. There are good and bad people, but the boy and the man only run into a handful throughout the book so human extinction is almost complete. The man tries to remain positive and is resourceful in his efforts to protect his son, but the underlying tone of the book is that of desperation and despair. Okay, so it wins a prize for realistic treatment of a difficult subject that is in the back of everyone's mind. The location, character names and what caused the apocalypse are not given so that the listener is focused on the characters and the hopelessness of their journey. Bingo, Pulitzer prize for originality.
Now for my feeling about the hours I spent listening to it. It's makes you think what's in store for humanity and if this could be our bleak future. That's depressing, but I like many books that are sad or depressing. The problem is that NOTHING HAPPENS! NOTHING! The characters hardly talk, so you don't get to know them. When the boy speaks, he's usually crying or complaining. Can't say that I blame him but I got tired of listening to it. And the man says very little and often repeats what the boys says. And what do they do with their time? Well, probably what you and I would do in their situation, but I didn't enjoy hours of them walking, finding cans of food and trying to keep warm. There were only a couple times where they actually were in a fairly interesting situation, but even that was short-lived. The publisher's summary says the book is "bleak but brilliant with glimmers of hope and humor." I would say it's bleak and boring with no glimmers whatsoever. Bottom line, I listened at 1.5 speed and still was glad when the book was over. It has an appropriate ending, and I can't give away any more than that.
PERFORMANCE - Mr. Stechschulte is not one of my favorite narrators, but he does a pretty good job. As I said, the situation and characters are kind of blah, so he didn't have a lot to work with.
OVERALL - There is no sex and possibly one or two curse words throughout the book. The boy and man run into a few people with gross injuries or health, but there's no real violence or gore. The book is intentionally bleak and alternates between being depressing and slightly hopeful but, as I said, the goal seems to be painting a picture in the listener's mind and making you think. It does that.
I was so moved by this book. I got it because I like "post apocalyptic" stories, but this was very different. Most end of the world stories are ultimately about starting over, going back to Eden, building a better world than the old one, etc. This was much more an allegory about the nature of hope, and what it means to be "one of the good guys."
Seriously dark, like extra dark with a side of dark, but beautiful and poignant, in a way that it couldn't be if it wasn't in that stark contrast with darkness and despair. The story strips away all the trappings of the world until all that's left is who we are and what we believe in. I didn't take it especially literally, but wondered if we aren't each of us both "the man" and "the boy" and our lives are "the road." That's probably just me being flaky though.
I thought it was really really good, but man, I'm planning to follow it up with something mindless and perky!
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Perhaps the most unequivocally gloomy novel I've ever read, The Road takes place on a seemingly doomed near-future Earth, in which some unspecified but massive disaster has made the world nearly unlivable. Crops are dead, all traces of law and order are long gone, and what's left of humanity has been reduced to roaming scavengers and bands of cannibals. The novel focuses on a man and his young son, who are making their way across what used to be the United States "towards the south". In what seems to be Cormac McCarthy's style, we learn little about their backstories -- only their struggle to keep going through a hellish, benighted world that could only be described by his stark, weighty prose. Indeed, McCarthy's complex, sometimes arcane descriptive language seems to reference other dark, visionary works in English literature, drawing in some of their power.
There's not a lot of "plot" to the book. Mostly, the two characters wander, just trying to find enough water, food, and shelter to get through the next day. Even during the stretches where nothing "happens", McCarthy gives each moment a palpable weight: the exhaustion, the fear, the tension of not knowing what's around the next corner, the emptiness of a dead world, the lure of an escape by suicide, and a father's desperate bond with his son, who is young enough to not fully understand the meaning of the reality around him. And there are some truly harrowing scenes, as well.
This isn't the easiest novel to take in, though, like McCarthy's Blood Meridian, I also found it mesmerizing and hard to put down. There are even strange moments of beauty in the shadow. Like few works in apocalyptic literature, The Road goes all the way to the edge of abyss, extinguishing hope down to the tiniest flickering flame. Yet, as long as that flame remains, there is no looking away. A powerful book, and one that might make you gaze into your own soul.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I gave this story 5 stars because, even though I wanted to not like it, I liked it anyway. I didn't once hit the FF button, which is very rare for me when I listen to an audiobook. The question is, what about it kept me listening?
As someone said in an earlier review - at some points it seems like the author attempted to use as many rarely used words as he could. Most of the time they flow in the story, but occasionally you'll stop and think "what??"
It is not an action packed thriller. It's a LOT of the same thing, day after day, chapter after chapter, but that's the point of the story. Don't get it if you want to hear exciting tension packed explosions of prose - that simply ain't in here.
The story is bleak and hopeless. There is nothing "feel good" about it so if you're prone to depression, stay away from this. The boy in the story sometimes made me want to throttle him ("shut up already, kid") but then I realized this meant that the story had truly captured me...
And that's why this story is worth paying for: you'll get caught up in it, bleakness and all, and will keep listening in the hope that the "good" will be found. Is it found in the end? You'll have to listen to find out.
If you're looking for an intricate plot, this book is not for you. If you can appreciate a finely crafted sentence, then you will appreciate this book. Cormac McCarthy is a master of the language and is right up there with Steinbeck and Hemingway. If you liked, "The Memory of Running", you'll like "The Road".
The narration by Tom Stechschulte is amazing. He apparently takes the time to thoroughly understand what he's reading and it really shows in this audio book. He makes this book shine. If I was down to my last credit I would spend it on this book.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
EVERYTHING COVERED WITH ASH
Let me wipe my tears. This is a heart wrenching, moving novel. Decades from now (if we are still here), when they look back and study the period of time when Apocalyptic novels were so popular, they will single this one out as the best. McCormick writes very descriptively, but not overly so. He never mentions Nuclear Winter, but this is as close as you will get. The landscape is a main character. It is always cold, the sun has not been seen in years, ash falls from the sky constantly, their are no animals, no fish, no plants, man is the only thing to survive.
If you liked "Room" by Emma Donoghue , you will love this. We are not given an age, but he is probably around eight. He is an innocent. He has never seen the sun. You will fall in love with him.
THE MAN, also known as Papa
One of the most caring, patient fathers you will ever meet.
A fantastic narrator which makes this such a moving story with his talent.
Audible editor and data evangelist. Lover of fiction, classics, thrillers, celebrity memoirs, and quirky teen novels.
Set in a cold and dark post-apocolypic America, The Road maintains a steady pace of bleak hopelessness. The father/son pair have lost everything, including their identities, and are on an unknown journey towards something better. The story captures their bond and persistence, with tiny glimmers of hope in a seemingly endless void. Tom Stechschulte's narration is spot-on and chilling, and stayed with me long after the end.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Reading this book in 2013, I understand why it sat atop the best seller list for so long several years ago. This is a sparse tale of a Dad trudging along a barren landscape with a shopping cart containing minimal supplies and son in tow. They persevere and plow ahead searching for food and shelter, forever in motion, avoiding unthinkable dangers. This is a gritty and stark story.
Enjoyed this book for the well thought out characters, especially the father struggling to keep his son safe while showing compassion and strength. The biggest struggle he faces is keeping his humanity and acting as a moral compass. The narrator fits the character as gruff, exhausted, and strong. Excellent read.
Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' is a black book of wondrous paragraphs that quickly pulls you into the sad, sad world of the man and his boy. I found myself sitting in my car long after my commute ended to hear more and more of this story.