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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

4.0 (6660 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Woodrina Charlotte, Nc, United States 05-28-11
    Woodrina Charlotte, Nc, United States 05-28-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Reader Tone"

    Im pretty sure if I would have read the paperback version of "The Road", I would have been drawn more into the story. The narrator was way off in determining how the father should sound, which by the way sounded like he was going for the cowboy approach and the voice of the boy sounded like a bad rendition of Michael Jackson, that totally through me off. It also reminded me of how important it is to not let go of "old fashioned reading" laying in my bed and being lifted up into story world with my own rendition of how the characters looked and sound.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miranda Christnach, Luxembourg 05-22-11
    Miranda Christnach, Luxembourg 05-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    17
    7
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    "What if this really happened...?"

    Usually books with a simple plot or where nothing happens can easily be boring. Not this one. Its strength lies in the ties between father and son, in the desperation of staying alive, of asking yourself scary 'what if' questions. It grips you, especially if you are a parent and start to imagine what could happen, how you would react as a parent. It poses the question whether life is better at all cost. It shows the wisdom of a child and the guilt and love and hopelessness of a parent.
    It's just simply brilliant and makes you cry.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew McLean, VA, United States 05-15-11
    Matthew McLean, VA, United States 05-15-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    51
    2
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    "Poor Dialog, Not Much Plot Development"

    "The Road" follows the journey of a man and his boy walking through a post-apocalyptic America in constant search of food and shelter. While they do face some interesting ordeals along the way, the only developments happen within these limited episodes and are soon forgotten. The characters never seem to evolve, and always end up in the exact same situation they were in the day before.

    Much of the book is dialog between the father and son, and (perhaps because the son is young) is very limited. I can't count the number of times I heard one of these: "okay", "alright", "I'm sorry", "I'm scared". While these can be used smartly to convey deeper meaning, there's a limit to how far that will go.

    The narration combines with this repetitive dreary dialog to make a very dull and repetitive listen.

    I understand that this book is trying to have a sad tone, and many of the things that bothered me about it might be considered its strengths by people who enjoyed the book. It's possible that I just don't "get" this book. Unless you know that you are a fan of Cormac McCarthy's writing style, I would take this review to be a warning to seriously consider if it's the kind of book you would enjoy before purchasing.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Albert 05-13-11
    Albert 05-13-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    80
    8
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    "Pointless"

    I have read the book and I have seen the movie. Being a lifelong lover of literature of all genres and a teacher of literature as well, I can see art in most work. I looked, but I could not find it here. Yes, it's grim, dark, monochromatic and all the other adjectives that people have use to describe it. However, there's not much more to it than that. True, I'm not the one handing out the awards (fortunately for Mr. McCarthy), but this is my opinion: it's a lot of to do about nothing. I know some of you will be astounded that I didn't love it as, apparently, I had to. I was just as astounded by the number of people who found it compelling and spellbinding. To each his own. It was read well.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Irvine, CA, United States 03-20-11
    Sean Irvine, CA, United States 03-20-11 Member Since 2015
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    14
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    6
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    "You'll start cheering for the bad guys"

    God awful, painful to listen to, and it goes nowhere (much like the characters in the book). I was dumbfounded when I heard this was going to be a movie. Like Seinfeld, it's a story about nothing...we don't know what happened, what is going on, or what happens when they get there. The kid is annoying, and the dad's constant "it's okay" response is overplayed. I actually liked the description of this book too, it seemed promising.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dietmar Wuerzburg, Germany 08-09-10
    Dietmar Wuerzburg, Germany 08-09-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    100
    2
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    "One wasted credit"

    the story drags itself througt the same motive "it is dark and cold ..." in endless loops in a very weak string of events.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Fairmont, WV, USA 03-27-10
    Joshua Fairmont, WV, USA 03-27-10 Member Since 2014
    ratings
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    9
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    "Great middle, where's the begining and end?"

    Four stars for the power that this book had to keep you on edge and the powerful emotion responses that it elicited I thought Stechulte did an excellent job reading. However I really wanted more from this book. I felt like I came in in the middle and was left with no ending. I would love to see a prequel & sequel.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harold Chelsea, Morocco 01-18-10
    Harold Chelsea, Morocco 01-18-10
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    1
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    "Unreal"

    There were stretches of this book where I forgot to breathe. Mesmerizing....

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Hemingway 12-30-09
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    "The Road (less traveled)"

    An excellent read! Would you expect less from McCarthy? Of course, as you WOULD expect given the subject matter, the story is a little dark (not light and airy as, oh say, "No Country For Old Men" ~grin~). Can't wait for the next title, Mr. McCarthy. Keep 'em coming!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawn Kirtland, OH, USA 01-28-09
    Dawn Kirtland, OH, USA 01-28-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Road"

    The story line was interesting. It had a good plot but I did not like how the story ended. I did not like the audible of the boy in the story.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 451-460 of 500 results PREVIOUS145464750NEXT
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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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