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.
Check out more selections from Oprah's Book Club.
©2006 M-71, Ltd.; (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC
"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)
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.
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!
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 listener. Lover of fiction, 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.
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.
The reader is fabulous. I've stopped books because I just couldn't listen to the reader anymore - not because the book was bad. Here, the novel is spare, eerie, melancholy. The reader captures Cormac McCarthy perfectly.
I'm so glad I got this one on audio b/c the narration was so well done. I listened to it over 1 run and 2 long car drives. It takes place in nucleur winter, and involves 2 survivors, a man and his small son, walking south on "the road" headed somewhere warmer, - I was told that premise and wasn't particularly interested, but I needed a book for my long drive and I was riveted, disturbed, fascinated, and totally impressed with the terrific writing. I think that there are major religious themes (There is no God and we are his prophets) but I have not worked them all out yet. Get this book
"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'.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.