Reviews for The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Violence, in McCarthy's postapocalyptic tour de force, has been visited worldwide in the form of a "long shear of light and then a series of low concussions" that leaves cities and forests burned, birds and fish dead and the earth shrouded in gray clouds of ash. In this landscape, an unnamed man and his young son journey down a road to get to the sea. (The man's wife, who gave birth to the boy after calamity struck, has killed herself.) They carry blankets and scavenged food in a shopping cart, and the man is armed with a revolver loaded with his last two bullets. Beyond the ever-present possibility of starvation lies the threat of roving bands of cannibalistic thugs. The man assures the boy that the two of them are "good guys," but from the way his father treats other stray survivors the boy sees that his father has turned into an amoral survivalist, tenuously attached to the morality of the past by his fierce love for his son. McCarthy establishes himself here as the closest thing in American literature to an Old Testament prophet, trolling the blackest registers of human emotion to create a haunting and grim novel about civilization's slow death after the power goes out. 250,000 announced first printing; BOMC main selection. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

McCarthy has written two survival tales, with unnamed characters traveling westward through desolate landscapes. Mercifully unique, Blood Meridian (1985) pre-sents gruesome horror as literary Western, sketching the adventures of an unidentified teen who joins a marauding gang of scalp hunters in the 1850s Southwest. The first three hours are a tour de force of sustained repellency, piling atrocity upon atrocity before settling into a more sustainable rate of a massacre or two per chapter. McCarthy's achievement here is his prose, not quite biblical, not quite Faulknerian, much of it unfamiliar enough to sound made up. Reader Richard Poe groans the lines, and if he only uses a few voices, most of the characters seem meant to be indistinguishable. Widely regarded as a modern classic, however unpleasant, this title belongs in most library collections. Bleak as it is, Road seems much more palatable in comparison, offering compassion in the person of a dying father who protects and cares for his son as they travel through a world shattered by an unexplained apocalypse. Starving and exhausted, they travel to the Pacific, scavenging food when they can and keeping other rapacious, cannibalistic survivors at bay. The boy tells himself they're the "good guys" and "carry the flame," but the father does what he must to survive. Veteran reader Tom Stechschulte navigates McCarthy's arcane language, emphasizing the pair's shared tenderness, in a wonderfully moving tale. Road's Pulitzer Prize and Oprah selection speak for themselves; essential.-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Even within the author's extraordinary body of work, this stands as a radical achievement, a novel that demands to be read and reread. McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, 2005, etc.) pushes his thematic obsessions to their extremes in a parable that reads like Night of the Living Dead as rewritten by Samuel Beckett. Where much of McCarthy's fiction has been set in the recent past of the South and West, here he conjures a nightmare of an indeterminate future. A great fire has left the country covered in layers of ash and littered with incinerated corpses. Foraging through the wasteland are a father and son, neither named (though the son calls the father "Papa"). The father dimly remembers the world as it was and occasionally dreams of it. The son was born on the cusp of whatever has happened—apocalypse? holocaust?—and has never known anything else. His mother committed suicide rather than face the unspeakable horror. As they scavenge for survival, they consider themselves the "good guys," carriers of the fire, while most of the few remaining survivors are "bad guys," cannibals who eat babies. In order to live, they must keep moving amid this shadowy landscape, in which ashes have all but obliterated the sun. In their encounters along their pilgrimage to the coast, where things might not be better but where they can go no further, the boy emerges as the novel's moral conscience. The relationship between father and son has a sweetness that represents all that's good in a universe where conventional notions of good and evil have been extinguished. Amid the bleakness of survival—through which those who wish they'd never been born struggle to persevere—there are glimmers of comedy in an encounter with an old man who plays the philosophical role of the Shakespearean fool. Though the sentences of McCarthy's recent work are shorter and simpler than they once were, his prose combines the cadence of prophecy with the indelible images of poetry. A novel of horrific beauty, where death is the only truth. Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

A man and a boy, father and son, each the other's world entire, walk a road in the ashes of the late world. In this stunning departure from his previous work, McCarthy ( No Country for Old Men, 2005) envisions a postapocalyptic scenario. Cities have been destroyed, plants and animals have died, and few humans survive. The sun is hidden by ash, and it is winter. With every scrap of food looted, many of the living have turned to cannibalism. The man and the boy plod toward the sea. The man remembers the world before; as his memories die, so, too dies that world. The boy was born after everything changed. The man, dying, has a fierce paternal love and will to survive--yet he saves his last two bullets for himself and his son. Although the holocaust is never explained, this is the kind of grim warning that leads to nightmares. Its spare, precise language is rich with other explorations, too: hope in the face of hopelessness, the ephemeral nature of our existence, the vanishing worlds we all carry within us. McCarthy evokes Beckett, using repetition and negation to crushing effect, showing us by their absence the things we will miss. Hypnotic and haunting, relentlessly dark, this is a novel to read in late-night solitude. Though the focus never leaves the two travelers, they carry our humanity, and we can't help but feel the world hangs in the balance of their hopeless quest. A masterpiece. --Keir Graff Copyright 2006 Booklist


Library Journal
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New territory for McCarthy: a postapocalyptic landscape where readers meet a man who recalls a better world and a boy who doesn't. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

McCarthy's latest novel, a frightening apocalyptic vision, is narrated by a nameless man, one of the few survivors of an unspecified civilization-ending catastrophe. He and his young son are trekking along a treacherous highway, starving and freezing, trying to avoid roving cannibal armies. The tale, and their lives, are saved from teetering over the edge of bleakness thanks to the man's fierce belief that they are "the good guys" who are preserving the light of humanity. In this stark, effective production, Stechschulte gives the father an appropriately harsh, weary voice that sways little from its numbed register except to urge on the weakening boy or soothe his fears after an encounter with barbarians. When they uncover some vestige of the former world, the man recalls its vanished wonder with an aching nostalgia that makes the listener's heart swell. Stechschulte portrays the son with a mournful, slightly breathy tone that emphasizes the child's whininess, making him much less sympathetic than his resourceful father. With no music or effects interrupting Stechschulte's carefully measured pace and gruff, straightforward delivery, McCarthy's darkly poetic prose comes alive in a way that will transfix listeners. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.


Library Journal
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Winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses) here offers a prescient account of a man and his son trying to survive in a devastated country where food is scarce and everyone has become a scavenger. The term survival of the fittest rings true here-very few people remain, and friends are extinct. Essentially, this is a story about nature vs. nurture, commitment and promises, and though there aren't many characters, there is abundant life in the prose. We are reminded how McCarthy has mastered the world outside of our domestic and social circles, with each description reading as if he had pulled a scene from the landscape and pasted it in the book. He uses metaphors the way some writers use punctuation, sprinkling them about with an artist's eye, showing us that literature from the heart still exists. Recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06.]-Stephen Morrow, Columbus, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"A wonderfully moving tale," though "bleak"; "essential" (LJ 7/07). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.