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.
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.
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.
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 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.
People who don't get into deep characters with intriguing diologue. an example (not directly quoted, but how it left em feeling): "Papa we are the good guys?" "yeah" "because we carry the fire" "yeah" "i'm hungry" "me too" "are you cold" "yeah" "I'm cold too" "yeah" "I'm hungry" "yeah".
Dry and dull, and as a father I didnt' connect with the father of this story in any way. I didn't feel he prepared the boy well for their circumstance.
He did well.
Of the 3 -5 characters in the whole story?? would be hard to cut any.
I just didn't find it great... it wasn't terrible... but it was only just good. At one point I even debated finishing it.
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.
"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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