Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2007America is a barren landscape of smoldering ashes, devoid of life except for those people still struggling to scratch out some type of existence. Amidst this destruction, a father and his young son walk, always toward the coast, but with no real understanding that circumstances will improve once they arrive. Still, they persevere, and their relationship comes to represent goodness in a world of utter devastation.
Bleak but brilliant, with glimmers of hope and humor, The Road is a stunning allegory and perhaps Cormac McCarthy's finest novel to date. This remarkable departure from his previous works has been hailed by Kirkus Reviews as a "novel of horrific beauty, where death is the only truth".
McCarthy, a New York Times best-selling author, is a past recipient of the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. He is widely considered one of America's greatest writers.
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"McCarthy's prose retains its ability to seduce...and there are nods to the gentler aspects of the human spirit." (The New Yorker)
"One of McCarthy's best novels, probably his most moving and perhaps his most personal...Every moment of The Road is rich with dilemmas that are as shattering as they are unspoken...McCarthy is so accomplished that the reader senses the mysterious and intuitive changes between father and son that can't be articulated, let alone dramatized...Both lyric and savage, both desperate and transcendent, although transcendence is singed around the edges...Tag McCarthy one of the four or five great American novelists of his generation." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
Liberal, retired, special ed teacher teacher from California (quite the cliche ) now living near Montreal. I love to play and watch tennis
While it's true this book was, at times, grim, stark, a simple narrative in it's style I did indeed find it spellbinding. Starting slow the story continued to build in it's intensity and desperation and of course, as with all really good stories, I was sad to see it end. I found the narration extremely realistic and believable. I would, however, caution listeners that like a particular genre that this book may not fit into any particular genre or preconceived notion so for sure give the sample a listen prior to purchasing. I have listened to over 250 Audible books and this is the most entertaining book I have heard.
In the world of literature, Cormac McCarthy is a God among men. Unfortunately, his name isn't exactly as popular as it ought to be. Here is a man who lives his life at the pool where we all go to find our words, and yet this last week was the first time I'd ever heard of him and it took considerable searching to find a book by him that I was willing to take a chance on. I'm disappointed (and terribly so) that I haven't read more of his books, but we'll get there, I assure you. The Road, McCarthy's latest book, takes place in a post mass-destruction event (Nuclear War, perhaps? McCarthy never elaborates, and it doesn't seem terribly necessary) era, and it focuses on a father and son who realize as winter is coming on that despite the father's ongoing illness, they have to travel south to the warmer coast, where the "father" (I keep calling him that, because McCarthy never actually names him in the book) hopes to find more food and warmer weather. I know, reading my own description of the book's premise now, that it doesn't <i>sound</i> terribly interesting, but look, I'm begging you. Buy the book. Just buy it. Buy it on audio tape (my personal favorite way to devour a good book. The right narrator can make all the difference, as it does in this book). Look, one knows subconsciously that we've heard every word that will be used in a book before we ever pick it up. It's the mastery of putting those words together in such a way that makes the reader feel as though they've never heard any one of the words, ever, ever before. It is in this sense that McCarthy is such a genius. I was marveling at the fashion in which he used simple phrases like "the boy" and "the man". <i>He's that good</i>. I'd make just about any excuse to listen to the lyrical and beautiful style that Cormac writes in again, and I'm sure I'll do it soon.
Listening to this novel is something of an ordeal: McCarthy has created a disturbingly believable vision of the end of civilization. The post-apocalyptic world that he conjures up must be one of the more chilling and frightening ever invented by a novelist. Often, it's the things he doesn't say, or only hints at, that make your imagination run riot and leave you thinking long afterward. It's an extremely engrossing listen, with a slow, deliberate style that is perfect for long walks.
This is a superbly-produced audiobook. Tom Stechschulte has the perfect voice for the novel: low, growly and hard-bitten; when he delivers the protagonist's lines you can believe that you're listening to a man who's walked across the wilderness for years, and he balances despair and hope in the man's voice to moving effect. But Stechschulte is also able to differentiate the characters, sounding genuinely young and innocent when performing the boy. McCarthy's often portentous style could have sounded artficial and preachy if done badly, but Stechschulte speaks every word with absolute conviction. It's a powerful acting performance by a true craftsman.
OK, so nothing McCarthy writes is an easy emotional read.
Road is tough, emotion-filled, desparate, and loving tribute to the love of father and son in the worst of all possible situations: after the end of the world in nuclear winter.
Father: the man.
Son: the boy.
McCarthy never names his two main characters: they are the man and the boy. Even without names few characters in fiction by any writer have as much character and passion.
Like "road" novels, movies, and stories before, "The Road" is a trek from one place to another filled with dangers encountered or avoided. What sets this apart from the rest is the profound meditation on family and love.
The prose in this book is almost lyrical. It is so utterly minimalistic that you stop to wonder how so much meaning can be packed into the briefest of phrases. The Road is one of the most depressing books I've ever read, because the picture it paints is so terrifyingly plausible. There are layers upon layers here, which bear repeat readings. The perspective focuses on the fragile but strong relationship between a father and son, and wisely does not venture beyond it. The catastrophe that ended their world is never named or explained, which makes sense: How would survivors of such a calamity even really know what happened without TV, without the buttresses of civilization? Full of haunting imagery that McCarthy presents largely free of opinion and merely lets "be," this book will stay in your head for weeks after you finish it. Required reading for anyone interested in post-apocalyptic ideas, and anyone who ever loved their father. Simply outstanding; this is one of my top five favorite books ever.
I have listened to nearly 200 books. This book is as good as Memories of Running, The Kite Runner, and the Life of Pi. I have two sons, and this book perfectly captures the powerful connection between father and son. The writing is terse and gripping. If your lip doesn't start to quiver at the end of the book, you are made of stone.
You won't regret using a credit on this book.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
I usually do not write reviews of audible books which have already been very well reviewed by other listeners and/or when the press clips are insightful and accurate. I am making an exception with The Road because it occurs to me that there may be some listeners who will read this who might otherwise have missed this book. So I encourage you to check out the lead reviews. No use repeating.
I would only add two things. First, many reviewers suggest that the center of this book is a meditation on the love between father and son which McCarthy brings to aching life for us. I think the real core of this book is about even deeper matters. If you have no reasonable hope for the future, why continue? This is not a question which is only faced by wanderers on a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape. Why take the next step? Which may, of course, bring us back to the aforementioned love.
Second, it seemed to me that the author copped out a little in the last five minutes. I will not elaborate, not wanting to risk spoilers. In any event, I am more than willing to forgive him and still stand in awed respect for this extraordinary piece of writing. It is as good as all those excellent reviews suggest. It is also the only book I can remember ever reading which authentically frightened me. Perhaps that is because my first grandchild is on the way.
Addicted to Audible!
The first time I listened to this book I stopped after about 3o min because it seemed so boring and the subject so depressing. A friend told me to give it another chance and so I did. I am glad that I listened. First,the narration is perfect, each word clearly spoken with just the right intonations. The writing was beautiful and made me think long and hard about my life, my family, my own spirituality and beliefs. It touched my soul.
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.
This book is emotionally brutal. I read previous reviews stating that the reader was tempted to stop reading several times, and I must concur wholeheartedly. There were times that my fear and or horror were just about at their limit. However, this book is well worth the tough journey. And I must give full credit to the narrator, who truly brought these characters to life. A very fulfilling book about parental love and a faith in humanity.
"An Excellent Audiobook"
Forget the recent film, this is the real deal. A father and his son travel a road leading towards the South - and a respite from the winter cold.
However, this is a post-apocalyptic world they traverse; the atmosphere full of ash, no plants growing and all animals and most humans dead. Most of the people who remain have turned into savages - a real state of nature where human life is 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.'
This book makes you ask questions about yourself - could you survive in such an environment? How would you behave towards others?
McCarthy's spare writing style is well suited to this type of narrative and it is superbly read by Tom Stechschulte.
"Perfect for the road - or anywhere else"
McCarthy's book makes outstanding listening. I was fearful before buying this having read some of his previous books, which are occasionally tough going in their style. But The Road is brilliantly sparse - clipped, original and vivid imagery and a compelling narrative which never explans itself and just keeps you following. McCarthy is a master at avoiding the cliched descriptions of some (many, most) authors and this is the finest example of this, in my humble opinion.
The narration is even and atmospheric, with a compelling delivery - just like the story itself.
"Poetic and thought provoking."
Having read the 2 previous reviews a number of times I was put off listening to this. At the recommendation of a friend I finally took the plunge - I wish I had done so ages ago.
The conversational style and poetic nature make it perfect for audible. The narrator sounded just as I imagined the Father would. I listened whenever I could and looked forward to the next instalment. Occasionally my heart rate rose in anticipation of on-coming violence but overall the story is beautiful. It's biblical themes and believable imaginings of post apocalyptic America are thought provoking.
I rarely listen to anything twice but I will make an exception with this.
I was in tears at the end of this book - I felt like I was right there at the end with he Son and Father, and I knew them so well it was like saying goodbye to friends. The story is so incredibly well written, you are immediately drawn in to the story and I can picture the landscape so vividly in my mind that I am not sure if I should watch the film adaptation or not. I could very easily have listened to this book all in one sitting, but I had to sleep sometime!
Other reviewers have mentioned the lack of chapter breaks, but I think that this is natural to the story - you are seeing through the eyes of the Son or Father, and they are not writing a novel, so they wouldn't break off from their battle for survival to start a new paragraph!
A special mention must go to the excellent narration, which was perfectly paced and judged throughout.
I found this book to be a rare example of being worthy of all the praise I have heard heaped upon it.
"Heartbreaking and amazing"
Seriously heartbreaking. What a story. Great direction and narration too! The voices were really well done :)
"a chilling vision of the future"
I suspect that a lot of people coming to The Road have, like myself, been introduced to McCarthy thanks to the recent film adaptation of No Country for Old Men, and so this is probably a good reference point.
No Country received near universal critical acclaim, but in my experience audience reaction was a little more mixed. Sure, plenty (including myself) agreed with the critics, but many seemed to think the desolate speech, settings, lack of truly cataclysmic events, and the closing dream sequence were entirely off-putting.
Well, all of the above factors are present in The Road, in a far greater density than in No Country. Our lead character is in a similar mould to Tommy Lee Jones with his slow, considered speech, there is the lack of a traditional climax, and the story starts with a dream sequence to rival that in No Country.
The story follows ?The Man? and ?The Boy? as they travel a road across the southern United States attempting to get to the coast following an unknown apocalyptic event. Needless to say, our travellers encounter both natural and human challenges in this desolate world and these are the main focus. It is worth noting here that, again like No Country, some of these encounters involve extreme violence and extremely distressing images; those of a nervous disposition should certainly beware.
From an Audible point of view, the book is of a manageable length and very well narrated. Despite this I do wonder if the inability to dwell on some of McCarthy?s topics means that something lost in the transition from page to wave; perhaps the forced pacing a narrator gives makes up for this, I don?t know. Finally, I always prefer chapters in audiobooks as they allow for a natural breaking point, and these are lacking here.
Overall, if you enjoyed No Country you will get something worthwhile from this and it is certainly worth your time. The opposite of course also applies, and at least for some, this is worth considering
"So Desolate, So Miserable, But So Good!"
The story painted a picture of a future so bleak it defines the apocalypse genre... The reader did a great job defining the characters and emotions.
Great story, short running time and engaging characters.
No, but I will be looking at his other books
I felt the narrator's voice took a little getting used to but, once I had, this was an enthralling tale of a great book. the inherent difficulties of conveying the book in voice were extremely well tackled through a measured narration. The different characters were well handled. The denouement was incredibly moving.
Al in all, a superb adaptation: highly recommended.
"Excellent & BLEAK! Loved it!"
No, would like to read it for myself as the narrator's style took a long time to get used to.
The ending and the way McCarthy delivered dialogue.
Not sure, probably not, unless he adapted his style based on the book / director.
Bleak, stark, honest and tantalising!
"why on earth did this win its accolades?"
I was drawn by its Pulitzer Prize-winning status and anticipated something original and maybe challenging to the reader. I was deeply disappointed. Science Fiction as a genre is full of examples of much more interesting post-apocalyptic tales. McCarthy has much less to offer here - what others have described as 'bleak', I would characterise as 'dull'. Don't get me wrong, it's competently written and the narrator is okay - it's the content that lets it down. So why the prize? Maybe Science Fiction is beneath the dignity of most literary critics, so they have an inadequate frame of reference? Or maybe McCarthy was deemed worthy on the basis of what I believe to be called 'Buggin's round?' Regardless, for a much more intriguing and satisfying post-apocalyptic journey, I reccommend Audible customers to try Margaret Attwood's terrific 'Oryx and Crake'.
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