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)
The story is set in an undetermined time in the future when a world-wide apocalypse has wiped out most of the human population. The relatively few who remain are either the "good guys" or the "bad guys". The reader never really finds out who the good guys are, or who the bad guys are. Nor do we find out what the nature of the apocalypse was that brought the world to this point. Furthermore, the two protagonists - a father and his son - are merely referred to as the "man" and the "boy". To describe the story as spare is indeed an understatement. And yet, despite all this, the reader is slowly drawn into a world where these two people are trying simply to survive. They will survive by making their journey along a road, to the coast. Why to the coast? We never really find out. The story is more about asking questions, rather than providing answers. What does it mean to have life? What is the purpose of living? Should it be life at any cost? As the man and the boy proceed with their journey, these are the questions we/they ask. The answers are very individualistic. This is a real work of literature, which stayed with me long after the book was completed. The narrator was terrific, taking very short, very sparse dialogue and infusing it with just the right amount of emotion, for each of the characters who spoke. I highly recommend this book. I gave it 4 stars, rather than 5 because, the latter would be for perfection only, and this book, while close - I would give it 4.5 stars if I could - falls just a smidgen short.
Literary graduate and published columnist turned glorified grease monkey.
I actually stopped reading this half way through the first time. It was just too slow for me. But then I came back to it and started again and made it through. I realised, it is supposed to be slow. It's a post-apocolyptic tale of a man and his boy wandering a desolate land. The pace of the story just serves to emphasise the desparation of their situation. It is a bleak future and they struggle through it. After a while I started to get annoyed with the kid, he always seems to state that he's cold or he's hungry or he's scared, and this doesn't help the narrative. I think the reader can assume these emotions from a 10 year old boy wandering the Earth alone with his father and a shopping cart. On top of that, the man constantly repeats what the boy says and that is frustrating. But it is an interesting survival story and McCarthy is a good teller. The Narrator did very well to instill a sense of hope and the lack of it. The plot gradually builds towards the end, and although I struggled to find excitement in the events that unfolded few and far between, whenever the characters discovered something really rewarding, I felt like I was right there with them.
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.
This simply sucked. The novel meanders aimlessly through a post apocalyptic setting. Extremely dull... no build-ups, no payoffs, no interesting exploration of the characters, no decent dialog - just long periods of boredom punctuated by brief, graphic post apocalyptic situations.
Many of the reviews praising this book agree that the plot isn't much - instead, they argue, it's the book's complicated questions on morality that make it great. "Really makes you think," I've read in some of these reviews.
That's friggin' nonsense. This book does nothing of the sort. The "moral conflicts" are so thinly drawn that anyone who considers 'The Road' eye-opening, or a think piece, is probably reading at a fourth grade level and we'd be insane to trust their reviews.
My theory is that the cause of this book's hype is the draw from the films based on McCarthy's novels - 'All the Pretty Horses', 'No Country For Old Men', and the book in question here, 'The Road'. I think the films drew a large number of reviewers who are the type that can't see past their own cognitive dissonance.
As always, I suggest trusting positive reviews only if they are from fellow audible listeners with similar tastes. If only I'd done that here. Just now, I looked through the reviews of those listeners on my 'Follow' list to see if any had tried 'The Road' as well. The two listeners that had also gave this book a low rating. Wish I'd had the wherewithal to look for their feedback prior.
This book is not chock full of action and adventure. However, I didn't feel the story needed all that drama. It was very real, and it made me think long and hard about what life would be like if I were in the main characters shoes, with no real place to go because everywhere has been affected. To be one of only a handful of survivors, left to scavenge for any semblance of life, is a powerful, heavy thought.
The author did a wonderful job of leaving out pertinent details that can be left open for interpretation, yet giving the reader a heavy dose of details in other aspects. I liked that the father and son are nameless (they are referred to as the man and the boy throughout), and that the details of their prior lives are scarce.
Lastly, the narrater was phenomenal. I was really able to vividly visualize the man and the boy as he spoke, thanks, in large part, to his delivery.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone!
Not everyone may appreciate Cormac McCarthy's emotional prose, but no matter what genre you're into, everyone must agree that this is one great book about surviving in a barren world, with a lot of emphasis on the father-son relationship.
It's a touching, yet gloomy story that pulls you in from the first word on.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
I must have read a different book. Well, wait a second. I did Not read this book. I listened to it. Therein may lie the rub. Other reviewers have commented about the print version’s idiosyncratic use of punctuation. Some readers obviously had problems with the lack of quotation marks while others lauded it. My [audio]book had no quotation marks so perhaps it is what stilted my enjoyment. I had no punctuation; I had a narrator. The narrator was good, not great but good. That was not the problem.
Perhaps it was those 5 star [in my eyes] expectations. Yeah, that’ll do it every time. Have no expectations my guru always said and you will be happy. Yeah, right.
I don’t know what it is but I just did not particularly care for this book. I wanted to. It’s the kind of book I would normally enjoy. It seemed pretty monotonous. We have no idea where the two characters are and that’s okay. We have no idea what apocalypse took place before they set out on their journey and that’s okay too. But the journey, the central theme, it just never went anywhere figuratively or maybe even literally. Except for finally coming across an ocean, the characters could have been walking around in circles for all we know. Maybe the book had a map? No? No map? Okay that’s okay too. We’ll even let that slide.
Maybe it was the bleakness of it all. No, I love Dickens and the great Russian authors and you don’t get much more bleak than those. No that’s not it.
No, I guess I thought the damn thing just wasn’t that interesting. There! I said it.
Now that being said, I am being generous with my 3 stars here in the belief that it's just me who cannot appreciate this book. In another review I gave this book 2 stars because there that meant "I didn't like it." I don't know what 2 stars means on Audible but it can't be good and this is probably not a bad book. Others have enjoyed it immensely and I would recommend that before you decide to invest time and money on any selection, read both takes, both positive and negative reviews if you can find them.
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 kept waiting for answers that never came. What happened to everyone in the first place? Never knew the man's or boy's name. The boy was continually whining. I would've hoped he would develop to be more like "Carl" on The Walking Dead. I didn't like any of the characters. The end just kinda happened and was tied up with a little optimistic bow.
"A great listen!"
I had watched the film of this and still found it a great book to listen to. It's the harrowing tale of a father and son trying to survive years after the end of civilisation. There are no zombies, no mutants just people trying to survive in a place were no laws exist and everyone is out for themselves. There's some disturbing moments, and yet at the heart of this is the love of a father and son. It's a really beautiful book and very easy to listen to.
Was glued to the story from start to finish. kept me hooked in the whole way
"Won an Award?"
I don't think so.
Highly descriptive allowing you to build a good minds eye of each scene but quite frankly it lacks content and is just plain predictable.Imagine a trip south from a cold clime in search of a more pleasant climate after an apocalyptic event, add a few little incidents of a predictable nature on the way along with the naturally complex relationship between a father and his young son.That's it, done. No need to read it now.Clearly I must be a philistine as I can't see the greatness other reviewers seem to have found.
My favourite novel beautifully narrated. Such a pleasure to listen to. I'm tempted to start again straightaway!!
Hard to imagine a more profound novel. Not always an appealing narrative but so powerful.
"A journey of the sweetest suffering"
In The Road, a father and son trek across a burnt-out America, scavenging for anything that will help sustain them through another day, always on the move, always on the lookout, painfully aware that all they have in the world is each other, and that that could change at any minute.
A story about survival at its most basic level, and how love can sustain the human condition; even in the face of utter desolation, providing a fuel to replace food, warmth to replace fire, and a reason to keep on living.
bit of a strange ending, didn't live up to the hype also didn't have enough action for me
"Waste of time"
The story was so slow and didn't really go anywhere. So disappointing, nothing to redeem it in my opinion.
Always meant to read this but never got around to it. Really should have done . . . . forty years ago . . . before it became so dated. As a work in its time I'm sure that it was cutting edge but now, sadly, it is somewhat boring.
Lacked the patience to finish
"It took me a couple of readings and the this superb narration to see the true brilliance of this work"
I am now a big fan of Cormac McCarthy and also of the narrator who performs the narration to the audio version so well. I can say little more than what others have said so well in their positive reviews except this:
This book I dedicate to the good guys of our world. Keep carrying the fire. Goodness will prevail.
To those who read this review and think I have lost the plot mentally, I say read and understand this book. And if you still don't get it, then read it and read it again. This narration is the best out there. Tom Stetchschulte is an awesome reader.
And now I will listen to it again.
And understand more.
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