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The Road

Narrated by: Tom Stechschulte
Length: 6 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4 out of 5 stars (14,687 ratings)

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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.

©2006 M-71, Ltd. (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC

Critic Reviews

"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)

Editorial Review

I hadn't cried in years before I heard this book. Cormac McCarthy's vocabulary is truly unparalleled, but you can tell he spends even more time crafting his characters and their stories than he does with words—which is really saying something.Michael D., Audible Editor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Road Too Ruined

The Road, in audio, is hypnotic. Horrific, yes. But emotionally powerful, especially for a father like me, with so much of the story focused on the how single-mindedly driven the father is to protect his son in the worst possible post-apocalyptic scenario. But more than just protect him -- to teach him as well, to protect himself, and to do so in manner that preserves the best part of humanity despite a landscape in which all humanity seems to have devolved to its worst instincts.

By contrast, I've read some scathing criticisms of the print version from people I can relate to -- turned off by some of the pretensions author Cormac McCarthy appears to have indulged himself in, taking liberties with punctuation and syntax and style. I could easily see myself among the tiny but vocal minority who push back against that conceit had I read the book in print. But that is not a factor when listening to the audio. I did have a problem with some of the repetitious dialogue, but otherwise, this spare but potent novel seems to be a perfect fit for audio, never mind its accolades, Pulitzer Prize and all.

Perhaps because I am a father myself, I was most moved by how intensely driven the father was to keep his son alive. I do things for my kids that I would not do for anyone else, including myself. That has never been life of death as it is in this story, but quotidian life in modern America is not usually life or death, and yet we still do what we can for our kids. I rarely get choked up, but I was definitely growing teary eyed as I was driving home listening to the last half hour of this book.

Before listening to The Road, I had heard it referred to as an allegory. I can see where one can read symbolism into it, especially from the point of view of religion, specifically the Christian view of god. I would have reacted negatively had I looked at the book through that prism while listening to it. But in the moment, it is hard to hear anything beyond the sheer horror of the circumstances, taken at face value. The Road works perfectly as a straightforward story of a father and son trying to survive an apocalyptic event -- there is little need to delve deeper.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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This won the Pulitzer? You're kidding.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It was so-so. The story is silly. It's so over-the-top dark that it's ridiculous at times. Yes, people can be horrible, but the level of horrible in this book is totally overdone. It was not believable, at least to me. And the story becomes highly predictable. The prose is also over the top. It's adjective soup. I'm stunned that this overwrought piece won the Pulitzer. I must be missing something here.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Least interesting was its predictability. I'm trying to think of what I thought was most interesting, but can't.

Which scene was your favorite?

The ending, albeit predictable. Can't tell whether I liked it because I was glad the story finally came to an end and I could buy a different book, or because I enjoyed the exchange between the good guy stranger and the boy. Probably a bit of both.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No.

Any additional comments?

If you're looking for a good Pulitzer winner, I'd suggest The True Story of Ned Kelly or Olive Kitteridge, but not this. Either I'm off my nut (entirely possible) or the Pulitzer committee was off its.

26 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Depressing

I really don't get all the hooplah. Stock up on the Prozac if you want to listen to this miserable thing.

26 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Opportunity Lost

Did I miss something? The writing was interesting and the reading/performance was very good. But I came close to putting this book down several times and didn't only because I kept thinking "something really interesting is about to happen". It never did.

The author has a great imagination and a compelling way of writing. This could have been a very good, if not great book, if there was more story. Other than being occasionally horrified at depths to which humanity could fall in a crisis (as imagined by the author), I was bored. It was an opportunity lost.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Tedium Uninterrupted

To say that a post-apocalyptic world would be difficult and dismal doen't seem very innovative. To take this basic concept and stretch it over the period of severla hoursr is excruciating. Perhaps if there had been some more depth regarding the pre-apocalypse nature of the characters, the events leading up to the event, etc. - it could have been bearable. Whatever you do, don't listen to this when you're in a depressive state. Believe me, it only gets worse and worse.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

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PREDICTABLE

predictable says it all!

106 of 133 people found this review helpful

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eh

It's a good story, but a little monotonous and Mondaine. I found it hard to keep up with because it just dragged. The 2 main characters don't even have names. It's a good story and a good read just a little boring for my taste

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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A good idea that never went anywhere

I had high expectations for this book based on the reviews. Needless to say I was very disappointed. The narrative lacked creativity. I kept waiting for something to happen but, it never really did. Just the same thing over and over again. The characters were not well flushed out. And the author focused on descriptions of very mundane details rather than the characters themselves. The ending was also pretty disappointing. I'd skip it.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

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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!!!

18 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • SKA
  • 09-20-09

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!

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Suzanne Martin
  • 08-23-11

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.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ellepeapatz
  • 07-18-08

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.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • GC
  • 11-01-10

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.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Jo Franklin
  • 08-09-15

Heartbreaking and amazing

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

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ian Garstang
  • 07-07-14

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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-23-08

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

23 of 29 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kate
  • 02-21-18

I cried....

Enjoyed, but the encounters in the book got a little same same. I cried, so that's always a good indicator of an author who has really pulled me into the book and characters. would recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 02-19-10

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jamie G
  • 04-24-18

Great book, narrator a bit hokey.

Really enjoyed this but felt the narrator was a little hokey and plaintive at times.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Shayne Jackson
  • 01-26-18

An amazing read

Brilliant story, brilliantly read. A disturbing, violent picture of a world in chaos, balanced with a story of a father's love for his child. Absolutely beautiful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • emmoff
  • 11-17-16

The high bar of dystopian fiction

The sparse, minimal prose add greatly to the haunting effect of this novel. Loved the narration. Did I mention bleak?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-27-19

amazing!

awesome! I loved the movie and now I'll always be listening to audiobooks on audible before I watch the movie if possible, narration & story both amazing!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-02-19

short and sweet

The best way to describe it would be poetry with a storyline. The writing is beautiful and the plot enthralling, absolutely worth every second. also super grim so don't play it if you are sad 😔

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Colin
  • 08-12-19

Pithy Brilliant

I am so glad that I got this, no wonder it has been recognized as a special book. It should be read by everybody, you will appreciate what we have now and perhaps the scenario depicted can be averted.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-06-19

Dystopian

A very good gut wrenching performance of a dystopian future we all hope never arrives. Not a book to be tackled if you are feeling fragile or down... gruelling

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer
  • 07-05-19

Excellent

This was a beautiful story to listen to. I don’t usually listen to fiction, but this was on the book club list so I had to give it a go! It was excellent and I was constantly on the edge of my seat. The voices were done very well.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-17-19

Powerful. Pitiful. Full of hope but also despair.

A dark story of a man's love for his son pitted against the backdrop of Armageddon. Surviving unspeakable encounters with the dead and the living on their journey to nowhere. Good against evil with no winners. Powerfully narrated. Hard to use the word enjoyable for such a tale but enjoy it I did. Not a book for the faint of heart.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas
  • 04-07-19

Ouch! My aching feels.

Cormac McCarthy writes with such eloquence. This book moved me. There is a potency here of almost immeasurable beauty. I loved this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-02-19

The Road

Excellent story, loved it! A beautiful tale of love and survival. Want to read more by this author!