Sunday, 20 April 2008

Page Turners - The Road

Again, I am very late with this post. Our April reading group book was The Road, a recent Pulitzer prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy. It's a post-apocalyptic literary work about a man and boy (both unnamed) who are travelling south along a road in search of more hospitable climes. Along the way they battle starvation, freezing temperatures, illness and the threat of cannibalistic groups of savages.

It's a book where not all that much happens, and many of the events are extremely repetitive. Nor are there any major turning points -- the story is essentially linear and ends up more or less where you expect it to. But, for all that, McCarthy does a remarkable job of keeping the narrative compelling and interesting. The writing is beautiful -- stark, crisp and poignant. The shattered landscape and the ever-present ash are major characters. (This description on Wikipedia provides much more detail.)

Most of our group found it a bleak book. I found it less bleak than I expected, however. The writing carried me away with it, and I found this tempered the bleakness for me. I finished it, in fact, with almost a sense of wonder, and a definite sense of appreciation. But there wasn't really any hope in this book. It depicts a sad degradation of civilisation and it's difficult to see how the people who had survived the cataclysm (whatever it was) so far, could survive much longer.

Our group discussion was more disjointed than usual, because we had it (unsually) in a restaurant, owing to extended power failures at the home of our would-be host. Nevertheless, I seem to recall that most found it a worthwhile read, even if they didn't precisely enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was an amazing book. Thanks so much for choosing it, Ellen.