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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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  •  
    McCoffee Saratoga, CA, United States 10-03-13
    McCoffee Saratoga, CA, United States 10-03-13

    I like history and biography, novels too. I do have a thing for zombie books as well. I need crappy thrillers now and then.

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    "Quiet, sad, adventure story"

    Great reading. Stechschulte handles the terse dialogue well enough, and the rest of the narrative brilliantly. This is a quiet book, with simple stripped language, very rhythmic, and it's a deeply sad book. But it's also an episodic adventure story, and it's hard to stop listening.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Cedaredge, CO, USA 08-22-13
    Rebecca Cedaredge, CO, USA 08-22-13 Member Since 2011

    I read like a madwoman all my life but now I have bad eyes. Thank goodness for audio books

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    "Terrifying look at the future"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Road to be better than the print version?

    This book caught me up in the story and showed what a terrifying place the world will be after the life as we know it is gone. The people, the houses, the cars, everything gone.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The Characters in the story lived through a scary time and still had redeeming qualities. The terror was not romanticized. The horror was real but the father still managed to teach his son to be a good man.


    Any additional comments?

    Not a long drawn out story but well told and draws you in.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlos Mission, TX 08-22-13
    Carlos Mission, TX 08-22-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Simply great!"

    Inexplicably overwhelming about a possible reality in which we must all reflect so we can avoid it.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luke 08-21-13
    Luke 08-21-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Good, but...."
    Where does The Road rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I thought it derivative of Grapes of Wrath (which I loved). The road, the misery of the man and his son, and especially the language. The way McCarthy will use the same noun twice in the same sentence just like John Steinbeck. But I liked it just the same and am glad I purchased it. The reader was brilliant.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Vancouver, BC, Canada 07-29-13
    Jay Vancouver, BC, Canada 07-29-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Poetically Beautiful"

    Some people have said this book is dreary and depressing. I can certainly see how they'd come to that conclusion, but I must disagree overall.

    For me, I finished with a positive feeling because what truly shines through is the genuine love between a father and his son despite the worst of circumstances.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Marathon, Ontario, Canada 07-20-13
    Sarah Marathon, Ontario, Canada 07-20-13
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    "A Good Book All Around"

    This review was originally posted on my blog, Exploring All Genres.

    I listened to the audiobook version of The Road and I have to say it was pretty good. The narrator, Tom Stechschulte, did quite a good job of reading this book, however there were times when the tone of his voice became a but too monotonous and that made my attention waver a bit. One thing I can say that he did really good was putting a lot of emotion into some of the parts of the story, especially during times when the boy was scared of a certain situation and he was trying to plea with his father to stop. It was those times that I felt like there really was lots of danger out on the road and that it wasn’t simply a father and son out on a camping trip but these people were truly struggling to survive.

    What stood out most to me with this book was the lack of names. During the story there was the man, the boy, the woman, but their names were never given. In fact there was only one name given throughout this book and that was Eli the old man they came across during their travels, and even then Eli admitted that might not even be his real name since names no longer help any significance out there. No doubt the characters had names at some point, but with the world in ruin and only a few surviving there is no need for a name.

    While the majority of the character focus was on the man and the boy there were a few other characters that they encountered along the way. Most were bad men who essentially captured and eventually ate those people they came across but there were a few good people along the way as well. However the character with the biggest impact on the story was the one that many might not even consider a character, and that is the road itself. Sure it’s an inanimate object but the road holds such a significance to to story that it really does feel like it is a character. It leads the man and boy towards the ocean, provides them protection and on occasion supplies from the various abandoned vehicles along it, and is both the safest and dangerous way to travel.

    Overall I enjoyed this book. It was a great story about survival in extreme circumstances, showed the lengths the man would go to protect his son as well as teach him about the world that used to exist and also about how to survive in the current world. I would certainly recommend this book to people who are looking to read something different or a book that has that Dystopian/Apocalypse feel.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David snowflake, AZ, United States 04-04-13
    David snowflake, AZ, United States 04-04-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Depressing Book"
    What would have made The Road better?

    The entire book was very depressing. I kept hoping that the ending would turn out good, but when I finished I felt like I had wasted my time. The narrator did an ok job, but there was no point to the story.

    The plot was about a father and son trying to survive in a desolate, post-apocalyptic world and the most of the book detailed the constant misery they were in. They were cold, starving, and terrified most of the time and they usually wanted to just die.The author never really said how the world supposedly burned up and some how all of the plants in the entire world seemed to be burned up and dead even though some houses here and there were still standing and lakes and rivers still existed, so it didn't make much sense that absolutely no plants and animals were left alive or no plants could ever grow again. The story takes place years after some disaster, but the author writes as if it had just happened.

    For example, there was always ash in the air even though it rained fairly often and everything had been burned up a long time ago. There were several other inconsistencies that made me think that the author didn't have a very good idea of how things would actually work in the scenario he created. He just seemed determined to make conditions as bleak as possible for the two main characters in the story.

    Overall what really made me give such a low rating came back to what I wrote earlier about the book being depressing. There was absolutely no humor and things were either bad or terrible for the characters. This book probably isn't worth your time.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    vandermere lennox head, Australia 04-01-13
    vandermere lennox head, Australia 04-01-13 Member Since 2013
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    "infantile"
    Would you try another book from Cormac McCarthy and/or Tom Stechschulte?

    no


    Has The Road turned you off from other books in this genre?

    no


    How could the performance have been better?

    yes


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    stipfied


    Any additional comments?

    My 5 yr old grandson could write a better book....how many times can one person say ...'i dont know'...my god , how could you other reviewers could enjoy this purile drivel .....badly written and badly narrated.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brittany Springfield, GA, United States 03-26-13
    Brittany Springfield, GA, United States 03-26-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Really??"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This book drags on and on... It was hard to get through.. partially because of the depressing story, but mostly because of the narration.. He could put anyone to sleep!!!


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eric Mars, The Solar System, the Milky Way 03-12-13
    eric Mars, The Solar System, the Milky Way 03-12-13 Member Since 2011

    .

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    "Very Emotional"
    If you could sum up The Road in three words, what would they be?

    not sure, maybe-"Could you do it?" It is 4 words but read the book and you will understand.
    What does it mean to live? For humans there is more than just the basic survival needs: eat, sleep. We need something more and this book makes you think about that.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Papa, there are only really two characters, although there are other people who breifly appear in the story.


    Which character – as performed by Tom Stechschulte – was your favorite?

    Again, not much to choose from but Tom is incredible at every voice in every book I have listened to.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    "Damn you! have you no soul!
    I teared up in several parts of this book. This book brings out so many emotions inside you that if you dont feel something for these people you had better check your compassion as a human being. And even more so if you have a son.


    Any additional comments?

    Get this book, it is sad and moving. You feel what the characters are feeling, which is the utmost despair, and the definition of suffering. Why would you WANT to live in this world. What would you do to keep your child safe, could you end him to save him from the type of suffering that no one should suffer.
    Great book, McCarthy is a remarkable author.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 421-430 of 502 results PREVIOUS142434451NEXT
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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
  • Anthony Cheffings
    UK
    3/18/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb"

    Very well written. Great performance. Thoroughly recommend this. I was gripped from word one to the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Comfortably_Numb
    2/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brutal but brilliant"

    This is a fantastic book. Brutal and sparse with barely a drop of hope. Great narration too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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