Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of depressing books. Nor am I fond of loose ends and unanswered questions. The Road by Cormac McCarthy has all of those characteristics in plenty, but I kind of liked it.

None can argue that this book is very, very (very, very) depressing. Some horrible disaster (what kind of disaster is one of those aforementioned unanswered questions) has occurred, leaving the earth a desolate wasteland. There are no plants, no animals, just a handful of straggling humans who have been reduced to thievery, murder, and even cannibalism just to survive.

Our heroes are a man and his son. They have no names, but they are two of the “good guys” simply because they will never, ever resort to cannibalism. They are on a road, heading to the sea where they hope things will be better, scrounging for what canned food they can find and avoiding all other humans because as far as they know, they are the only good guys left. The father lives for his son, the son for his father.

This is one of the reasons this book appealed to me: that in spite of the desperation of the situation, there was a gleam of hope; that the love between a father and son could provide sustenance in such circumstances.

However, I must admit that the main reason I liked this book is that it supported one of my pet theories: that in the case of a widespread disaster, I am toast.

Allow me to explain. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon, My church encourages its members to have food storage. I love food storage, mainly because it looks so beautiful, all those jars and cans lined up on my shelves, but also because I can see its value for a short-term disaster or even in the case of unemployment. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will do me a bit of good in a disaster of Biblical proportions.

A major catastrophe will strip away the veneer of civilization. There are people that will do anything to survive, and I’m not sure I’m one of them. Even assuming I would have the nerve to kill a person for the good of my children (I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it for myself), there are plenty of folks bigger and stronger and more ruthless than me. Sure, I’ve got my brains, but while I’m frantically trying to assemble a crude weapon out of a piece of bamboo and homemade gunpowder, someone with brawn is simply going to amble over and take me out with a large rock. And then they’ll take my food.

If you don’t believe me, read The Road. (But don’t read it if you dislike bleak stories, disturbing mental images, or the fall of human civilization.)


Diane said...

I loved this book, even though it was very dark. No plans to see the movie though. Great review.

Lula O said...

I don't know if I can read this. I can barely make it through a Kingsolver book! But I agree with the food storage thing. That's why I'm always snooping out what my neighbors have. Then I can mooch off them!
As always, a great review Stephanie.

Stephanie said...

I don't think I could handle the movie. Two solid hours of post-apocalyptic doom and gloom? No thank you. (At least I could put the book down and go do something fun every now and then.)

Lula, I've been scoping out YOUR food storage. The minute a disaster occurs, I'm moving into your garage. (You couldn't shoot me, right? Right?!?)

Anonymous said...

"in the case of a widespread disaster, I am toast." -- I will have to say this applies to me too. I hope, that if the apocalypse comes, I do not have to resort to eating people. Is that too much to ask?

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

I probably won't read it... but I really appreciate reading your comments on this book - that I have heard so much about!

Bill ;-)

Hope you'll check out my book giveaway: