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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

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Evan Somerville, MA, USA 12-09-09
    Evan Somerville, MA, USA 12-09-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible and heartbreaking"

    The Road is more than an amazing account of the horrors and hardships that a father and son have to work through to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It speaks about fatherhood and a love so strong that it makes you wonder if you would have the fortitude to do what the man does for his son. It speaks about a naive purity and an experienced cynicism and how, to survive, you need both. Tom Stechschulte's narration should be the gold standard that all others are measured against. Simply superb. True, the story is intense, but you have to realize it is Cormac McCarthy's take on a desolate hellscape with humankind pushed close to extinction. The result is an engrossing yet disturbingly bleak tale that somehow manages to allow the faintest glimmer of hope.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Pound Ridge, NY, United States 09-17-09
    Thomas Pound Ridge, NY, United States 09-17-09
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    "Really spoke to me"

    This book really worked for me. Maybe because I'm 43 and I have a young son. The dialog rang true. The reader was fantastic, so much so that the few clips I have seen of the upcoming film seem off in some way. Even the way he delivers the boys words was perfect. I am pretty picky about my listens and this was my first foray into McCarthy's work but I really enjoyed this booy even though it is a harrowing piece of fiction. I f I believed in a God I would certainly pray that this is not how it all ends up...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Huntersville, NC, USA 06-18-09
    John Huntersville, NC, USA 06-18-09
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    "Tough going at first, but worth the journey."

    The book is harsh, desolate and depressing. But by the books end you have a sense of hope.
    This is not a action /horror story as the upcoming movie trailer seems to betray, its a story about a man and his undying love for his boy. If you can get through the first 2 chapters the final 3 will leave you with hope and satisfaction.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory HohenbrunnGermany 05-28-09
    Gregory HohenbrunnGermany 05-28-09 Member Since 2013
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    "Great and deep book about a father and son"

    I had to wait a week after finishing this book to comment on it. I think that the comments of the book being an apocalyptic themed story are missing the overriding point. This is a story about a father's instinctual need to protect and want the best for his son, while struggling through the worst of circumstances. It is also about a young boy's unwavering trust of his father. The dialog is amazing, accurate and simple. The setting could have changed to some other doomed scenario and the point would have been the same. It can be slow in spots. But since the stakes are so high the book kept me hooked. I seriously would not recommend this book for anyone that is depressed or has a gloomy outlook on the future. Otherwise, it is an unforgettable book that I highly recommend.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher P. Mcmanaman Houston, Texas United States 05-27-09
    Christopher P. Mcmanaman Houston, Texas United States 05-27-09 Member Since 2007
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    "AWESOME BOOK....AWESOME NARRATOR!"

    This is a great audiobook!! The Tom narrates exactly like a 5 year old would talk...there is a child in the book.

    If I have to choose between two books and Tom Stechschulte is narrating one of the othem...that is the book I got with.

    Great narrator. Great story. So few and far between.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renee G. California 05-17-09
    Renee G. California 05-17-09 Member Since 2014
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    "Touches your Core"

    What begins as a bleak depressing narrative becomes much more as the story emerges. The father-son dynamic is at the center of this post-apocalyptic nightmare. Some images are so ugly I was gripped with revulsion and found myself becoming protective of the boy, wanting to shield him from the realities of his life yet knowing he needed to "see" to keep himself alive. The journey of survival unfolded as the two encountered moments of good fortune sprinkled with those of utmost despair. Not an easy read, but a great one!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 08-23-08
    John 08-23-08
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    "Definitely worth buying!"

    This is a gripping story with an excellent reader. His slow understated diction is perfect for this scorched earth story. It's a far from cheery vision -- totally bleak, in fact -- but with real moments of tenderness. It's a rich evocation something that is usually only addressed by melodrama and exaggeration. This is the opposite -- precise, human, intelligent, and therefore even more frightening and memorable.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy J. Herrmann 07-27-08 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Apocolypse on a personal level"

    What happens to a young boy and his father when the world is turned into a barren wasteland, full of ash and people who have nothing to eat but each other? In "The Road", the author uses the relationship to show us good and evil to the nth degree. This is the "1984" of our time. The prose is excellent, the situations and relationships are realistic and heartfelt.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Murray San Diego CA 06-04-08
    Barbara Murray San Diego CA 06-04-08 Member Since 2015

    Love2Read

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of my favorites"

    I am not a big fan of most of Cormac McCarthy's writing. But this book, and this rendition of the book, are riveting. I have read the book in print and listened to the audio version three times now. Mccarthy's command of the English language is a beautiful thing. And the story of a man in a dying world trying to find hope for his child is touching to anyone who has ever loved a child. His ability to take nothingness and turn it into a brilliant visual image through his use of an erudite vocabulary is a rare experience among modern novelists who go for the cheap thrill and the easy words. The slow and steady vocalization of the narrator is perfectly suited to the nature of the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G Wallace 04-25-08
    G Wallace 04-25-08 Member Since 2010

    I love me some audiobooks

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nihilistic"

    Very interesting. This book falls in line with I Am Legend by Richard Matheson and other apocalyptic stories. As a listener or reader you are thrown into the story which is a short timeline of events of the two main characters. For the most part they are the only two characters. I enjoyed the provocative story elements and attention to detail. Yes it's bleak but you know that already. If you want a love story or some milquetoast novel there are plenty to choose from. This is a dark in your face piece of humanity told from a first person perspective and I certainly don't regret having listened to it. I actually wish that it could have gone on for twice the length. Stephen King's apocalyptic drivel goes on and on until you wish you were dead, but Cormac McCarthy paints his story on a canvas that even though its dark and bleak you still admire every thoughtful nuance.

    Finally, an author who has the talent, guts and vocabulary to tell this tale with plausibility. It will wake you up rather than put you to sleep.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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  • Baladobabe
    Scotland
    7/18/08
    Overall
    "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.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • little bobs mum and dad
    8/23/11
    Overall
    "Heartbreaking"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Graeme
    Leigh-on-Sea, United Kingdom
    11/1/10
    Overall
    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Simon
    Stamford, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
    9/20/09
    Overall
    "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.
    Superb!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Gregory
    Leicester, Leicestershire, United Kingdom
    5/23/08
    Overall
    "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

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Tim
    leighton buzzard, BDF, United Kingdom
    10/17/07
    Overall
    "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'.

    22 of 32 people found this review helpful
  • Ian Garstang
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So Desolate, So Miserable, But So Good!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Road the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Great story, short running time and engaging characters.


    Have you listened to any of Tom Stechschulte’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No, but I will be looking at his other books


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Pretty much!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    BathUnited Kingdom
    2/19/10
    Overall
    "Excellent adaptation"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel
    8/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent & BLEAK! Loved it!"
    Would you listen to The Road again? Why?

    No, would like to read it for myself as the narrator's style took a long time to get used to.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Road?

    The ending and the way McCarthy delivered dialogue.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Tom Stechschulte?

    Not sure, probably not, unless he adapted his style based on the book / director.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Bleak, stark, honest and tantalising!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miss Joanna Franklin
    8/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Heartbreaking and amazing"

    Seriously heartbreaking. What a story. Great direction and narration too! The voices were really well done :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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