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The Road | [Cormac McCarthy]

The Road

America 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2007

America 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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 03-14-08
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 03-14-08 Member Since 2007

    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)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Keeps you listening"

    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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Regina-Audible USA 12-21-13
    Regina-Audible USA 12-21-13 Member Since 2008

    Audible editor and data evangelist. Lover of fiction, classics, celebrity memoirs, and quirky teen novels.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Haunting Must-Listen"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle waycross, GA, USA 08-13-09
    Michelle waycross, GA, USA 08-13-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    20
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    "I enjoyed this reading very much."

    The story is at first sad without any hope that made me curious to the direction the book would take. In the end was a loving book of hope and longing outlining the relationship and dedication between a father and his son in even the most deparate of situations. It was a very plausible description I could easily visualize and feel deeply for. I recommend this book to anyone interested in a sad heartfelt insight into what family means or what it is to be human.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Sydney, Australia 06-06-09
    Ron Sydney, Australia 06-06-09 Member Since 2008

    Literary graduate and published columnist turned glorified grease monkey.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    143
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    "tough going but good once you're into it."

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Toronto, ON, Canada 08-28-08
    Robert Toronto, ON, Canada 08-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A compelling look at a post-apocalyptic world"

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Eliot, ME, USA 07-11-08
    Debra Eliot, ME, USA 07-11-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disturbing. Sad. Yet somehow hopeful."

    I felt a bit stressful and sad while listening to this book which is a credit to Cormac McCarthy's spare, intense, powerful writing. The more I thought about and talked this book afterward, the more I admired the author and liked The Road. Absolutely the best last paragraph of any book I've ever read. If it doesn't make you realize the beauty and value of this planet and the good people who live here, I don't know what would.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amyable 12-29-07
    Amyable 12-29-07 Member Since 2006
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    "Riveting yet warm"

    Definitely worth the listen. Very gripping and sensitive...The kind of book that makes you think, actually makes you WANT to think...

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane 10-11-07
    Jane 10-11-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Beautiful Memorable Book with Great Narration"

    This is one of the most moving memorable works of fiction that I have ever read/listened to. The luxury of listening to the narrator read this prose to me as I drove my car made me happy to be a commuter. Some of the most compelling moments are the man's memories of the earth before the destruction -- the streams, the trout, the colors. But the most amazing part of the book is the boy and the man's love for his son and what a parent will do for a child & sees in a child. An absolutely beautiful book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FanB14 11-22-13
    FanB14 11-22-13

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Father & Son Persevere"

    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.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DAVID CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, United States 03-23-11
    DAVID CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, United States 03-23-11 Member Since 2010
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    Overall
    "Things put in your head you can't take back out"

    This book is brilliant and the author is a master. The book and the author deserve 5 stars - I am giving it 5 stars...and I hated it.

    Listening to this audio book was the single most emotionally devastating event in my 48 years of life. I pray to God and all that is holy that someday I will be able to forget this book.

    My only grandson just turned four last week. He is my world and I adore him
    with every fiber of my being. We spend hours and hours together every week - sometimes fun and exciting, sometimes quite mundane - and each and every
    moment is precious to me. I know this at each of these moments, not in retrospect.
    He calls me Papa.

    After listening to this book, I envisioned my grandson kneeling over my lifeless body, weeping uncontrollably, crying "oh Papa...". Now I can't get this scene out of my head. I may need therapy.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 21-30 of 470 results PREVIOUS123447NEXT
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  • Mr
    Surbiton, United Kingdom
    10/17/11
    Overall
    "On the Road Again"

    Bleak and sparse this narrative is wonderfully affecting and Tom Stechschulte gives an excellent performance as the archetypal man and boy in this post-apocalyptic wasteland.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anthony
    ambleside, United Kingdom
    1/22/11
    Overall
    "good listen but could have been better"

    I enjoyed the book, but felt a little more of why and how. Its really just several weeks in the life of a father and son in post apocalypse.

    Saying that it was a stunning read and you really felt as if you were there.

    I was just hoping it might give some insight into what had happened to the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Helen
    coventry, United Kingdom
    5/4/10
    Overall
    "Brilliant"

    Don't go to see the film - read the book. Very dark and atmospheric. Unlike one of the other reviewers, I can clearly see why it has won such aclaim. Read it and make up your own mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Morna
    Seething, Norfolk, United Kingdom
    3/19/10
    Overall
    "A journey well worth taking..."

    This is exaclty the sort of relentlessly grim and harrowing book I avoid...usually. I spent the first half in a mixed state of gut knotted anxiety and anticipation as the pair faced ever more menacing and macabre happenings. The book was so beautifuuly written and plausibly narrated that it became utterly compelling. Even in the devasted post apocalyptic world there is some hope to be found in transcendance and just carrying on...very moving and very scarey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Beverley
    Stevenage, United Kingdom
    2/1/10
    Overall
    "Magnificent"

    I have just finished reading this book and am both annoyed and delighted ? annoyed with myself for not reading it sooner, and delighted because it is possibly the best book I have ever read! This is a magnificent and beautifully written book. The story is often sad and occasionally horrifying, but ultimately this is a story of hope, an uplifiting tale of decent people trying to survive in a world that has descended into chaos.

    For me, one of the strong points of this book is Cormac McCarthy?s prose - I loved his use of language, particularly the contrast between the sparse prose describing the daily struggle for survival of the Man and Boy, and the haunting descriptions of the wrecked and decaying world in which they exist.

    I would urge everyone to read this book ? it is a masterpiece.

    I will definitely be reading this book again and again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Annie
    Twickenham, United Kingdom
    1/25/10
    Overall
    "Brilliant"

    When humanity has disappeared, how do we remain human? A beautiful, unforgetable and moving book about the power of love. It questions everything, and maybe provides no answers. Even if you are going to see the movie, or have already seen it, as I had, still listen to the book, it enhances the experience. Beautifully read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Derek Holman
    uk
    12/29/09
    Overall
    "No Good News Only Bad"

    Ask yourself this: Have you ever witnessed abhorrent behaviour in others and thought, what if the world as we know it came to an end and we were left to fend for ourselves, what depths would that person fall to to ensure their survival?
    Cormac McCarthy in The Road examines the possibilities and probabilities of this situation.
    This is not science fiction this is about Humanity. A cataclysmic event has left few survivors in a desolate dead landscape with no means of producing food so what’s left to eat is pretty much in tins……….
    Take from this what you want but in my opinion McCarthy has constructed a masterpiece which examines the human soul and finds good and evil not in equal measure. This is a bleak book with no good news, not for everyone, but one which given the attention it deserves will reward the listener.
    Tom Steckshulte delivers McCarthy’s clipped poetic prose with icy beauty. Not to be missed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Graham
    Hayes, Middx, United Kingdom
    11/8/09
    Overall
    "will be in my memory for a long time to come"

    I found this a amazing It affected me like no other book I have ever read.
    From begging to end it held me wanting to no more I found my self worrying and yes fretting day by day about the characters and the end brought me to tears and wonting to no more However I was glad it was at an end as it affected me so deeply and vividly, its still in my head and will be in my memory for a long time to come

    Thanks for such a great book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Harriet
    London, United Kingdom
    11/14/08
    Overall
    "gloom and doom along the road to hell"


    Wonderfully read in a great grungy American voice, a father and young son wander the continent of America scavenging for food and shelter in a landscape where nothing can grow and the sun cannot shine and if they meet a fellow human he might well try to eat them. The end of the world is happening. The skill of this book is that you continue to listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lorraine
    las palmas de gran canaria
    11/14/08
    Overall
    "The Worst Book Ever"

    Well if ever I feel like committing suicide, this will be the book I'll chose to hold in my hand so that those finding my body will know how desperate I felt.
    It's gruesome. It's horrible. It is so devoid of hope or grace or beauty that I can't think why anyone would want to subject themselves to reading it. I will not recommend it to anybody.
    As far as the characters go, the boy is pathetic in the true sense of the word. However, I couldn't help the cynic in me asking how on earth he could be so ingelligent at times when all his knowledge must have come from the father, who is little more than monosyballic in his utterances. The father has lost his humanness and gained only cruelty in his quest for survival - how else could you justify his teaching the child to put a pistol in its mouth, aim upwards? These people have become hardly more than animals.
    The language is sparse but I can't say I can see any beauty in it. I cringed everytime the father said 'Its alright\" or the son said 'Im okay'. Surely there's more to life than that? Surely McCormac could have offered us more vocabulary, even in this world devoid of hope?
    List. Lists of objects. Lists of tiny actions. Sentences without verbs. Overuse of the words 'he' and 'and'. All contribute to the dull, repetitive language in this dull, repetitive tale.
    Probably the worst book I have ever read. And I could have been saved from my misery if only the man had trusted the family he met right at the beginning ... ah! maybe that's the message.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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