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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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  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 09-27-08
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 09-27-08 Member Since 2005

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Will touch your soul"

    The first time I listened to this book I stopped after about 3o min because it seemed so boring and the subject so depressing. A friend told me to give it another chance and so I did. I am glad that I listened. First,the narration is perfect, each word clearly spoken with just the right intonations. The writing was beautiful and made me think long and hard about my life, my family, my own spirituality and beliefs. It touched my soul.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Canada 03-25-07
    Steven Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Canada 03-25-07 Member Since 2001

    Liberal, retired, special ed teacher teacher from California (quite the cliche ) now living near Montreal. I love to play and watch tennis

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Spellbinding"

    While it's true this book was, at times, grim, stark, a simple narrative in it's style I did indeed find it spellbinding. Starting slow the story continued to build in it's intensity and desperation and of course, as with all really good stories, I was sad to see it end. I found the narration extremely realistic and believable. I would, however, caution listeners that like a particular genre that this book may not fit into any particular genre or preconceived notion so for sure give the sample a listen prior to purchasing. I have listened to over 250 Audible books and this is the most entertaining book I have heard.

    77 of 81 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 10-08-13
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 10-08-13

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My wife says he's that Cold Desert Writer I love."

    Look, I'll admit it. I'm a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy and have read every (I mean EVERY) book, play, screenplay, and piece of short fiction (Wake for Susan [1959], A Drowning Incident [1960]) he has written. While 'The Road' is not his very best (Go read 'Suttree' or 'Blood Meridian' if you are looking for the late 20th Century's answer to Herman Melville and William Faulkner). 'The Road' is a very approachable McCarthy and loses none of McCarthy's prose stylings, while at the same time making his writing more palatable to the average mass-fiction reader.

    So, if you haven't read McCarthy before, this is a good first stop, but please DEAR GOD, don't let this be your only or your last stop. Read McCarthy more, read McCarthy often, or the kid gets it.

    30 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Halifax, NS, Canada 05-13-10
    David Halifax, NS, Canada 05-13-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Horribly absorbing"

    Listening to this novel is something of an ordeal: McCarthy has created a disturbingly believable vision of the end of civilization. The post-apocalyptic world that he conjures up must be one of the more chilling and frightening ever invented by a novelist. Often, it's the things he doesn't say, or only hints at, that make your imagination run riot and leave you thinking long afterward. It's an extremely engrossing listen, with a slow, deliberate style that is perfect for long walks.

    This is a superbly-produced audiobook. Tom Stechschulte has the perfect voice for the novel: low, growly and hard-bitten; when he delivers the protagonist's lines you can believe that you're listening to a man who's walked across the wilderness for years, and he balances despair and hope in the man's voice to moving effect. But Stechschulte is also able to differentiate the characters, sounding genuinely young and innocent when performing the boy. McCarthy's often portentous style could have sounded artficial and preachy if done badly, but Stechschulte speaks every word with absolute conviction. It's a powerful acting performance by a true craftsman.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Kingsburg,, CA, United States 03-21-07
    Lee Kingsburg,, CA, United States 03-21-07
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    "very moving"

    OK, so nothing McCarthy writes is an easy emotional read.

    Road is tough, emotion-filled, desparate, and loving tribute to the love of father and son in the worst of all possible situations: after the end of the world in nuclear winter.

    Father: the man.
    Son: the boy.

    McCarthy never names his two main characters: they are the man and the boy. Even without names few characters in fiction by any writer have as much character and passion.

    Like "road" novels, movies, and stories before, "The Road" is a trek from one place to another filled with dangers encountered or avoided. What sets this apart from the rest is the profound meditation on family and love.

    56 of 60 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles 04-01-07
    Charles 04-01-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Oh my goodness"

    In the world of literature, Cormac McCarthy is a God among men. Unfortunately, his name isn't exactly as popular as it ought to be. Here is a man who lives his life at the pool where we all go to find our words, and yet this last week was the first time I'd ever heard of him and it took considerable searching to find a book by him that I was willing to take a chance on. I'm disappointed (and terribly so) that I haven't read more of his books, but we'll get there, I assure you. The Road, McCarthy's latest book, takes place in a post mass-destruction event (Nuclear War, perhaps? McCarthy never elaborates, and it doesn't seem terribly necessary) era, and it focuses on a father and son who realize as winter is coming on that despite the father's ongoing illness, they have to travel south to the warmer coast, where the "father" (I keep calling him that, because McCarthy never actually names him in the book) hopes to find more food and warmer weather. I know, reading my own description of the book's premise now, that it doesn't <i>sound</i> terribly interesting, but look, I'm begging you. Buy the book. Just buy it. Buy it on audio tape (my personal favorite way to devour a good book. The right narrator can make all the difference, as it does in this book). Look, one knows subconsciously that we've heard every word that will be used in a book before we ever pick it up. It's the mastery of putting those words together in such a way that makes the reader feel as though they've never heard any one of the words, ever, ever before. It is in this sense that McCarthy is such a genius. I was marveling at the fashion in which he used simple phrases like "the boy" and "the man". <i>He's that good</i>. I'd make just about any excuse to listen to the lyrical and beautiful style that Cormac writes in again, and I'm sure I'll do it soon.

    83 of 90 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chad Louisville, KY, USA 11-30-09
    Chad Louisville, KY, USA 11-30-09
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    "An unflinching portrait of the apocalypse"

    The prose in this book is almost lyrical. It is so utterly minimalistic that you stop to wonder how so much meaning can be packed into the briefest of phrases. The Road is one of the most depressing books I've ever read, because the picture it paints is so terrifyingly plausible. There are layers upon layers here, which bear repeat readings. The perspective focuses on the fragile but strong relationship between a father and son, and wisely does not venture beyond it. The catastrophe that ended their world is never named or explained, which makes sense: How would survivors of such a calamity even really know what happened without TV, without the buttresses of civilization? Full of haunting imagery that McCarthy presents largely free of opinion and merely lets "be," this book will stay in your head for weeks after you finish it. Required reading for anyone interested in post-apocalyptic ideas, and anyone who ever loved their father. Simply outstanding; this is one of my top five favorite books ever.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Katy, TX, United States 11-25-09
    Barry Katy, TX, United States 11-25-09
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    "I loved this book"

    I like McCarthy's writing style, but its never been better than in The Road. The setting is a bleak future, a man and his boy holding on to each other despite having absolutely nothing to live for. The story moves along well, with McCarthy's brilliant prose, but the bleak atmosphere is not something all will appreciate.
    Many criticize this book because of the lack of sophisticated dialog. In fact, a man and his son travelling along a road in the cold of winter probably would not have many deep, philosophical discussions.
    The story is simple, but it's what McCarthy does with it that gives its complexity.
    There are some moments in the story that are some of the most memorable I've ever read; particularly the man's remembrance of the final conversation he had with his wife.
    The author manages to introduce a fair amount of realistic suspense into the story. I cringed at what the man found in the basement of that house...
    McCarthy is one of the most brilliant writers, and he is at his absolute best here. But you'll probably either love it or hate it.
    Oh yeah, Tom Stechschulte's narration is perfect for this book.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 03-08-14
    David Houston, TX, United States 03-08-14 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very sad. Breathtakingly well written."

    I usually do not write reviews of audible books which have already been very well reviewed by other listeners and/or when the press clips are insightful and accurate. I am making an exception with The Road because it occurs to me that there may be some listeners who will read this who might otherwise have missed this book. So I encourage you to check out the lead reviews. No use repeating.

    I would only add two things. First, many reviewers suggest that the center of this book is a meditation on the love between father and son which McCarthy brings to aching life for us. I think the real core of this book is about even deeper matters. If you have no reasonable hope for the future, why continue? This is not a question which is only faced by wanderers on a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape. Why take the next step? Which may, of course, bring us back to the aforementioned love.

    Second, it seemed to me that the author copped out a little in the last five minutes. I will not elaborate, not wanting to risk spoilers. In any event, I am more than willing to forgive him and still stand in awed respect for this extraordinary piece of writing. It is as good as all those excellent reviews suggest. It is also the only book I can remember ever reading which authentically frightened me. Perhaps that is because my first grandchild is on the way.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob CT 04-17-07
    Bob CT 04-17-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "You Must Listen to this title"

    If you're looking for an intricate plot, this book is not for you. If you can appreciate a finely crafted sentence, then you will appreciate this book. Cormac McCarthy is a master of the language and is right up there with Steinbeck and Hemingway. If you liked, "The Memory of Running", you'll like "The Road".

    The narration by Tom Stechschulte is amazing. He apparently takes the time to thoroughly understand what he's reading and it really shows in this audio book. He makes this book shine. If I was down to my last credit I would spend it on this book.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 469 results PREVIOUS1247NEXT
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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.

    11 of 11 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
  • Grimeyreaper
    11/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great post apocolypse read"
    What made the experience of listening to The Road the most enjoyable?

    It did what I expected of it


    What did you like best about this story?

    Well described and compelling


    What about Tom Stechschulte’s performance did you like?

    He had the required level of somberness


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

    I was moved throughout


    Any additional comments?

    None

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tatiana
    Europe
    11/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Niche, much?"

    "I don't want to go."
    "We've got no choice."
    "I'm scared."
    "It's gonna be OK. OK?"
    "OK."
    "OK?"
    "OK."
    "OK."

    If you're up for reading endless variations of that dialogue, with not too much in the way of story, world-building, or characters, go for it! At least the reader puts in a valiant effort with what he was given.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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