The Road by Cormac McCarthy





Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (1 of 42), Read 63 times

Conf:

Constant Reader

From:

Jane Niemeier 

Date:

Thursday, October 05, 2006 06:33 PM

I finished this book today, and I don't know if I have ever read a more depressing book.

I would like to discuss the book with those of you who have read it.

Jane


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (2 of 42), Read 55 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Thursday, October 05, 2006 06:46 PM


I'll have the book in about two more business days, but I probably won't get my hands on it until I get back from travel. Darn it.

Michael 


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (3 of 42), Read 56 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Dale Short 


Date:

Thursday, October 05, 2006 09:10 PM


I'm only about 50 pages in, Jane. Hope to finish up THE ROAD this weekend. The story is already bleak, but I understand it gets worse.



>>Dale in Ala.

http://www.writerstoolkit.com
http://fullclearlight.blogspot.com


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (4 of 42), Read 57 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx


Date:

Friday, October 06, 2006 12:43 AM


I'm about 50 pages in too Jane...I should get a fair ways in
tomorrow morning.

Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (5 of 42), Read 49 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx


Date:

Friday, October 06, 2006 09:27 PM



Well, this is really depressing. I am kind of reading it half
hearted. There are some really beautiful ideas about loving
ones children...but really, this is a bummer.
But maybe reading continuing tomorrow might pick up. I'm
not saying it's good or bad...but it's very powerful in that if
feels so hopeless and encourages feelings of
hopelessness...ugh...so far a tough road trip.

Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (6 of 42), Read 56 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

R Bavetta 


Date:

Saturday, October 07, 2006 01:29 AM


Just picked this up from the library. I was waiting like a vulture for the brand new copy to hit the shelves.

Ruth


Ladybird,Ladybird
Bavetta, 1996
20x30, oil pastel


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (7 of 42), Read 61 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx 


Date:

Saturday, October 07, 2006 10:21 AM


"Chigurh pulled up across the street and shut off the engine. He turned off the lights and sat watching the darkened house. The green diode numerals on the radio put the time at 1:17."

"When Bell got out he took a look around the lot and then walked up to the door at 117 and tried the knob."

The above two passages are from No Country For Old Men.

Now, this made me curious enough last year as I read the novel. People in McCarthy book club wondered if it was passages from the bible. I tried to find dates in Plato. Some have suggested it has something to do with St.Anthony's day, on January 17th. Or the conspiracy of Jesus surviving the cross and his children with Mary are alive and well and living in the south of France.

Imagine my surprise as I am reading his new novel,
The Road, and come across this...

"The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions. He got up and went to the window. What is it? she said. He didn't answer. He went into the bathroom and threw the lightswitch but the power was already gone. A dull rose glow in the windowglass."


http:// gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (8 of 42), Read 55 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Pres Lancaster 


Date:

Saturday, October 07, 2006 12:24 PM



" I was waiting like a vulture for the brand new copy to hit the shelves." ~ Ruth

Cormac would approve.

pres

Being dead is no excuse. Let there be happy chaos.


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (9 of 42), Read 52 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Robert Armstrong


Date:

Saturday, October 07, 2006 07:05 PM


I’m half way into The Road. I’ve always liked short chapters, or scenes. Here the spaces between the segments, sometimes as short as a paragraph, feel like resting zones, a chance to contemplate a fate so utterly possible, yet, a no man’s land of avoided speculation. Nuclear annihilation couldn’t be more important a subject as the world indulges in increasing polarization while pressing ever onward with technological development. As Pres said in the Lewis Thomas thread, “the subject is not dated, only ignored.” Indeed, it is ever more urgent. Leave it to McCarthy to actually go there. Who else could make it a tolerable journey without some sugar coating? That takes art.

I like the style. Bare bones description. Effective sentence fragments. A continuation of the pared-down prose of No Country For Old Men. Noir cinema visualizations. Occasional hallucinatory flights injected into the-tree-lay-in-the-road realism. Philosophy catalyzed by extremity. Ever the question: why?

Robt


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (10 of 42), Read 54 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Robert Armstrong 


Date:

Saturday, October 07, 2006 07:19 PM


An article from yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/100706X.shtml

Robt


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (11 of 42), Read 53 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx


Date:

Sunday, October 08, 2006 08:48 AM


Oh my god...Robt what an article. I need to almost go into
denial over that one...ya know? Almost.

Yes, I agree with so much of what you say about the
writing and the pace. I find I have taken many many
breaks between paragraphs. Sometimes only fve minutes,
but I just sit there and stare off into space between
readings...it seems the pace affects me that way.

This is a complex story and construction. It doesn't seem
so at first, but something is going on here.

The father I partly admire...and partly he frightens me.
Sometimes, I can't handle some of the things he says to
his son. I wonder if anyone else feels this?

I don't want to say too much because of spoilers...

Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (12 of 42), Read 51 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Robert Armstrong


Date:

Sunday, October 08, 2006 11:06 AM


Still not finished. It strikes me that the late culture that they’re sifting through pre-dates ours. As though the nuclear destruction took place in the 1950’s or 60’s.

Fellini’s La Strada comes to mind. Same title, only in Italian.

Candy, I stop for long pauses in between the segments, too; my mind adrift. Makes me glad to have my quiet livingroom today, and also anxious about losing a peaceful life.

Robt


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (13 of 42), Read 50 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Dale Short


Date:

Sunday, October 08, 2006 01:52 PM


I'm a little further along on THE ROAD, but I found this piece by novelist William Kennedy in today's New York Times Book Review of interest. WARNING: SPOILERS, OF A SORT.

***
October 8, 2006

LEFT BEHIND
By William Kennedy

THE ROAD
By Cormac McCarthy.
241 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $24.

Cormac McCarthy’s subject in his new novel is as big as it gets: the end of the civilized world, the dying of life on the planet and the spectacle of it all. He has written a visually stunning picture of how it looks at the end to two pilgrims on the road to nowhere. Color in the world — except for fire and blood — exists mainly in memory or dream. Fire and firestorms have consumed forests and cities, and from the fall of ashes and soot everything is gray, the river water black. Hydrangeas and wild orchids stand in the forest, sculptured by fire into “ashen effigies” of themselves, waiting for the wind to blow them over into dust. Intense heat has melted and tipped a city’s buildings, and window glass hangs frozen down their walls. On the Interstate “long lines of charred and rusting cars” are “sitting in a stiff gray sludge of melted rubber. ... The incinerate corpses shrunk to the size of a child and propped on the bare springs of the seats. Ten thousand dreams ensepulchred within their crozzled hearts.”

McCarthy has said that death is the major issue in the world and that writers who don’t address it are not serious. Death reaches very near totality in this novel. Billions of people have died, all animal and plant life, the birds of the air and the fishes of the sea are dead: “At the tide line a woven mat of weeds and the ribs of fishes in their millions stretching along the shore as far as eye could see like an isocline of death.” Forest fires are still being ignited (by lightning? other fires?) after what seems to be a decade since that early morning — 1:17 a.m., no day, month or year specified — when the sky opened with “a long shear of light and then a series of low concussions.” The survivors (not many) of the barbaric wars that followed the event wear masks against the perpetual cloud of soot in the air. Bloodcults are consuming one another. Cannibalism became a major enterprise after the food gave out. Deranged chanting became the music of the new age.

A man in his late 40’s and his son, about 10, both unnamed, are walking a desolated road. Perhaps it is the fall, but the soot has blocked out the sun, probably everywhere on the globe, and it is snowing, very cold, and getting colder. The man and boy cannot survive another winter and are heading to the Gulf Coast for warmth, on the road to a mountain pass — unnamed, but probably Lookout Mountain on the Tennessee-Georgia border. It is through the voice of the father that McCarthy delivers his vision of end times. The son, born after the sky opened, has no memory of the world that was. His father gave him lessons about it but then stopped: “He could not enkindle in the heart of the child what was ashes in his own.” The boy’s mother committed suicide rather than face starvation, rape and the cannibalizing of herself and the family, and she mocks her husband for going forward. But he is a man with a mission. When he shoots a thug who tries to murder the boy (their first spoken contact with another human in a year) he tells his son: “My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you.” And when he washes the thug’s brains out of his son’s hair he ruminates: “All of this like some ancient anointing. So be it. Evoke the forms. Where you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.” He strokes the boy’s head and thinks: “Golden chalice, good to house a god.”

McCarthy does not say how or when God entered this man’s being and his son’s, nor does he say how or why they were chosen to survive together for 10 years, to be among the last living creatures on the road. The man believes the world is finished and that he and the boy are “two hunted animals trembling like groundfoxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.” But the man is a zealot, pushing himself and the boy to the edge of death to achieve their unspecified destination, persisting beyond will in a drive that is instinctual, or primordial, and bewildering to himself. But the tale is as biblical as it is ultimate, and the man implies that the end has happened through godly fanaticism. The world is in a nuclear winter, though that phrase is never used. The lone allusion to our long-prophesied holy war with its attendant nukes is when the man thinks: “On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world.”

They keep walking, the man coughing blood, dying, envying the dead. They are starving, stalked by the unseen, by armed thugs who travel by truck, and in terror they see an army of “marchers” who appear on the road four abreast and epitomize what the apocalypse has wrought: “All wearing red scarves at their necks. ... Carrying three-foot lengths of pipe with leather wrappings. ... Some of the pipes were threaded through with lengths of chain fitted at their ends with every manner of bludgeon. They clanked past, marching with a swaying gait like wind-up toys. Bearded, their breath smoking through their masks. ... The phalanx following carried spears or lances tasseled with ribbons, the long blades hammered out of trucksprings. ... Behind them came wagons drawn by slaves in harness and piled with goods of war and after that the women, perhaps a dozen in number, some of them pregnant, and lastly a supplementary consort of catamites illclothed against the cold and fitted in dogcollars and yoked each to each.”

And the boy asks, “Were they the bad guys?”

“Yes, they were the bad guys.”

“There’s a lot of them, those bad guys.”

“Yes there are. But they’re gone.”

The overarching theme in McCarthy’s work has been the face-off of good and evil with evil invariably triumphant through the bloodiest possible slaughter. Had this novel continued his pattern, that band of marching thugs would have been the focus — as it was with the apocalyptic horsemen of death in his second novel, “Outer Dark,” or the blood-mad scalp-hunters in his masterpiece, “Blood Meridian,” or the psychopathic killer in his recent novel, “No Country for Old Men.” But evil victorious is not this book’s theme. McCarthy changes the odds to favor the man and boy, who for a decade have survived death by fire and ice, and also cannibalism, which has become the most grievous manifestation of evil’s waning days. In the cellar of an antebellum home they discover naked slaves of a new order, people who were ambushed on the road and then kept alive as food. One man’s legs and thighs have been cut away, his hips cauterized by fire; and he lives on. When six of the cannibals return to the house the man and boy barely escape the same fate. Hiding, afraid to breathe, the father tells the boy it’s going to be O.K. He says that often.

The boy asks: “We wouldn’t ever eat anybody, would we?”

“No. Of course not. ...”

“No matter what.”

“No. No matter what.”

“Because we’re the good guys.”

“Yes.”

“And we’re carrying the fire.”

“And we’re carrying the fire. Yes.”

“The Road” is a dynamic tale, offered in the often exalted prose that is McCarthy’s signature, but this time in restrained doses — short, vivid sentences, episodes only a few paragraphs or a few lines long, which is yet another departure for him, coming after “No Country for Old Men,” published last year. That was also tight and fast, an extremely violent thriller with the energy of his sentences and a philosophical sheriff lifting it out of the genre; but in the McCarthy canon that book seems like a Graham Greene “entertainment” alongside ambitious work like “The Road.” He is said to have other novels in unfinished drafts, so perhaps he will revert to grandiloquence in those to come. But on the basis of “No Country for Old Men” and “The Road” it does seem that he has put aside the linguistic excesses and the philosophizing for which he has been both venerated and mocked — those Faulknerian convolutions, the Melvillean sermonizing — and opted for terse dialogue and spartan narrative, a style he inherited from another of his ancestors, Hemingway, and long ago made his own.

The accessibility of this book, the love between father and son expressed in their quicksilver conversations, and the pathos of their story will make the novel popular, perhaps beyond “All the Pretty Horses,” which had a love story and characters you might befriend and not run from, and which delivered McCarthy out of cult status and onto the best-seller list. “The Road” is the most readable of his works, and consistently brilliant in its imagining of the posthumous condition of nature and civilization — “the frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night.” Money and gold mean nothing, nor do government, education, books, politics, history, friends, home. The pilgrimage is plotless but it races with tension, a sequence of enemy encounters or sightings, the perpetual danger from the killing weather, huddling under blanket and tarp, endlessly gathering firewood, confronting mysteries the dead world presents to a man seeking (and finding) water and food in the deserted houses, barns and boats that survived the firestorms. The father is ingenious in understanding how the natural and fabricated worlds function; and also lucky, as he modestly tells the boy.

But that luck is providential, for “The Road,” in addition to being a nonpareil vision of an apocalyptic landscape, is also a messianic parable, with man and boy walking prophetically by rivers, in caves, on mountaintops and across the wilderness in the spiritual spoor of biblical prophets — Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, to name a few. Elijah, herald of the Messiah, who will return on the Day of Judgment, turns up as a destitute straggler who looks like “a pile of rags fallen off a cart,” and the boy insists on feeding him. He says his name is “Ely.” In one of the longest conversations in the novel the father talks to Ely about being the last man on earth and says that nobody would know it.

“It wouldnt make any difference,” Ely says. “When you die it’s the same as if everybody else did too.”

“I guess God would know it. Is that it?” the man asks.

“There is no God,” Ely says.

“No?”

“There is no God and we are his prophets.”

When the man suggests the boy is a god, Ely says: “Where men cant live gods fare no better. You’ll see. It’s better to be alone. So I hope that’s not true what you said because to be on the road with the last god would be a terrible thing. ... Things will be better when everybody’s gone.” As a kicker to his doomsaying he adds that even death will die. “He’ll be out in the road there with nothing to do and nobody to do it to. He’ll say: Where did everybody go?”

Who knew Elijah did stand-up?

The man and boy keep heading south and do reach the ocean, which the boy heard was blue, but it is as gray with ash as the rest of the world — a dead sea. And the Gulf Coast is as cold as Tennessee. When they capture a man who stole their goods the father leaves him naked on the road to freeze. The boy protests but the father chides him: “You’re not the one who has to worry about everything.” And then the 10-year-old messiah, who is compassion incarnate, and carrying the fire, gives up his secret. He says to his father: “Yes I am. I am the one.”

The good guys remain elusive as the father sickens, and he talks of the boy inevitably being alone on the road. The boy asks about another boy he saw walking alone. Was he lost?

“No,” the father says. “I dont think he was lost. ...”

“But who will find him if he’s lost? Who will find the little boy?”

“Goodness will find the little boy. It always has. It will again.”

Goodness is an anomalous subject for McCarthy, especially in the language of a children’s book. He has given his own kinetic language to the narrating minds of morons, cretins, madmen, psychotic murderers; and in “Blood Meridian” to a satanically articulate god of war who rides with scalp-hunters and is the supreme evil opposite of the good boy messiah. Those narrators all became oracular presences on behalf of evil, but this father and son remain only filial familiars, brave and loving and good but tongue-tied on what else they are or are becoming. The boy refuses to speak his thoughts or dark dreams to his father; the father is as inarticulate on his Promethean son as he is on his own obsession with their forced march. But the father was right about goodness: it arrives on cue as a deus ex machina that has been following the pair and swiftly enfolds the boy savior into a holy family, maybe a holy commune, where they talk of the breath of God passing “from man to man through all of time.” Then McCarthy ends with an eloquent lament: a vision of mountain trout that “smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional” in a time gone when the world was becoming; and what had been was “a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again.” And all things “were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

Brief and mystical, this is an extremely austere conclusion to the apocalyptic pilgrimage. Of the boy’s becoming, or his mission — redeeming a dead world, outliving death? — nothing is said. The rhythmic poetry of McCarthy’s formidable talent has made us see the blasted world as clearly as Conrad wanted us to see. But the scarcity of thought in the novel’s mystical infrastructure leaves the boy a designated but unsubstantiated messiah. It makes us wish that that old humming mystery had a lyric.

William Kennedy is the author of the Albany cycle of novels, the most recent of which is “Roscoe.” He is at work on a new novel.



>>Dale in Ala.

http://www.writerstoolkit.com
http://fullclearlight.blogspot.com


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (14 of 42), Read 51 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Robert Armstrong


Date:

Sunday, October 08, 2006 07:54 PM


Great book.

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

Somehow I was able to travel along on the journey. It’s not every day that I would be able to do so. Some of the images are so terrible that I almost feel polluted by them, their full implications slowly dawning on me. They put Edgar Allen Poe on a par with Romper Room. Light shines brighter in the dark, however, and the love between the man and boy is all the more powerful as they trek through the lowest circles of Hell. Thank God for the good guys, and doesn’t it make you want to carry the torch? The ending is way more hopeful than I expected. The boy will be a welcomed addition to any group and his life is bound to reflect the love of his father and his own benevolent nature. Even if the boy’s life is brief, it will have some goodness and fellowship in it.

The boy seems to me to be anywhere between seven and ten years old. There was a reference to there being a cholera epidemic when the man was a boy. Is there a date that can be affixed to this? Cholera epidemics in the US occurred in the 19th century. I’m not sure about the 20th century. The NY Times review that Dale posted puts the man in his late forties. I missed the reference to that. And I’m not at all sure that this story is set in the 1950’s or 60’s, it’s just that the kind of places they came across seem dated. No eviscerated computers or smashed cellphones.

I liked the sly reversal of the man giving the boy grape kool aid as one of the things that was potable. The ghost of Jim Jones hovered over this scene.

Cormac McCarthy goes for the large themes, and more power to him for the reach. He pulls it off with great style and emotional depth. I cried like mad at the end. Certain passages are suitable for a Constant Reader gathering out-loud reading session. Quake not. If I chose to read from The Road, I promise to be brief.

Robt


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (15 of 42), Read 44 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Jane Niemeier


Date:

Monday, October 09, 2006 02:34 PM


The review that I read in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY which gave the book an A-, questioned whether the father was truly a good guy. They were probably questioning the father's treatment of the man who stole the cart and all of their belongings. But I think that the father was a good guy. He was being naturally protective of his son. The man who stole everything was thinking only of himself, and the father was thinking only of his son. It was always the boy who made his father share things, and the father would give in to his son's good nature.

As far as the time period, doesn't McCarthy mention the Interstate somewhere? That system was built in the 60's, so it must have been the 60's or later. The bomb shelter that they discover has a chemical toilet. When were they invented? I thought that it was supposed to be taking place in the future until you mentioned the lack of computers, etc., Robt.

Jane


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (16 of 42), Read 49 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Robert Armstrong 


Date:

Monday, October 09, 2006 03:45 PM


SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

Despite being surprised by the unexpected hopefulness of the ending, hopefulness is a relative term. My experience today, the day after I finished the book, is that I am still deeply affected by The Road. This is possibly the most depressing book ever (similar to what Jane said), and I feel loss looming. Can’t shake it. Not sure I want to. Not sure what to do with my reaction which feels profound. This is a book with which to use superlatives (which I possibly fling around too often). The Road is a classic. It delves into something both ultimate and real, and that’s a great straddle. It is a warning, a lament of humanity’s worst, and a celebration of humanity’s best. We decide which to follow and we are at a cross roads.

It’s a gorgeous day here in NJ. Indian summer. Birds atwitter. And inside me, inside my cells, somewhere on the resonant level of my atomic structure, I am undone. Bravo McCarthy. Whatever reconstruction is necessary, it is up to me.

Robt


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (17 of 42), Read 47 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

R Bavetta 


Date:

Monday, October 09, 2006 04:44 PM


Thanks, Robt, for all your eloquence on this thread. I read the book yesterday, in one great gulp. I couldn't put it down.

I, too, was surprised by the optimism of the ending.

I think in terms of reading ease, it's the most accessible McCarthy I've read. Certainly nowhere near the clotted magnificance of Blood Meridian in terms of writing style.

But simplicity can be deceptive. This has some of the most beautiful writing I've read in a very long time. In fact, what struck me most strongly was the beauty of the language contrasted with the stark despair of what it described.



Ruth


Ladybird,Ladybird
Bavetta, 1996
20x30, oil pastel


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (18 of 42), Read 42 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Dale Short 


Date:

Monday, October 09, 2006 10:24 PM


Agreed: Bravo, Robt. And Ruth, your description of BLOOD MERIDIAN as "clotted magnificence" is no slouch in the eloquence department, either.

I'm at about the two-thirds point of THE ROAD, still dazzled by the deceptive simplicity of the writing. But my experience of the book hit another level today. As I ran errands and fought work deadlines, I had a gnawing suspicion that something was badly wrong, something that I was overlooking, something affecting someone I love. Finally it dawned on me that I had left the man and his son alone on that long road, last night, and was worried about them in my absence. It's very, very rare that characters in a book ever become real enough to hit me at that subconscious gut level.




>>Dale in Ala.

http://www.writerstoolkit.com
http://fullclearlight.blogspot.com


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (19 of 42), Read 40 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Sherry Keller 


Date:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 08:02 AM


This sounds like a book that needs to be read, but I don't know if I can handle the impact of it now. I will buy it and save it for later. For a time when my life can afford to be changed on a basic level. There is too much about me that is being changed already.

Sherry


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (20 of 42), Read 43 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Robert Armstrong


Date:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 08:48 AM


Thanks, Dale and Ruth. I was also struck by Ruth’s description of Blood Meridian as “clotted magnificence.” That’s perfect. And Dale, being worried about the father and son is real, isn’t it? I am worried about us all. Somehow, I’ll have to transform the worry into concern into something pro-active, as the phrase-of-the-day goes. But that narrative lives.

Robt


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (21 of 42), Read 43 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx


Date:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 06:50 PM


Yes, nicely done Ruth...

Well, you know a couple things come to mind. First, I have
mixed feelings about this being a sad story. I think it's a
fairytale for grownups. First, the sceen with the wife and
he saying she was going to kill herself and I thought it
was really fake. This worried me at first, and I stopped to
think...McCarthy has often taken heat for his female
characters, but I have usually defended him...but this
time, this was awkward, almost campy. Very very few
women would kill themselves and not protect their baby,
most would even allow themselves to be reaped and
tortured if they thought it would help protect their child.
So her feelings seemed fake. But...this way, her
death...allowed the father to be the caregiver...and really,
in North America, this is an unusual situation, especially
for older generations(I realize contemporary dads are
often committed to the new trend of being hands-on)

I see the "end of time" as a metaphor for old age, and
maybe even regrets. The clocks stopped, and can not be
fixed or turned back...and the world doesn't look the
same can not be returned to it's older ways...

I think this is a cautionary tale written by someone whose
father was removed and distant, and by a man self
declared(In NYT's interview) to not have provided for his
own son...and usually I wouldn't partake in a biographical
analysis of a writer, but I can't shake this feeling. I think
this is a novel written by wisdom gained through loss of
the world of childhood...a cautionary tale, to do the right
thing, live carefully and responsibly, especially for your
child.

You can't go back to the way things were once they are
dead to you.

Part of me at first also found the father campy, some of
the things he said to his son seemed like a hells hockey
dad, then again, I felt this reminded me of the heightened
sense within the style of writing, the hypnotic pace, and to
see it as a allergory/ not of religion and messiahs...(which
it seemed sometimes creepy the kids pedestal) but as a
fairytale...and what parent doesn't think their kid is the
greatest thing? (I know my daughter is the most beautiful
and talented and kindest , she's perfect)

Those of you who have read many of McCarthy's books
may understand this feeling also...I couldn't believe that
this was wrtten by the same writer as Suttree. And I feel
that within my history of reading, in my life time and
McCarthy I've actually witnessed a huge transformation in
his work.

Really, I don't feel this is an ultimately sad
story...especially if you don't have regrets for your
relationships you know? For me that is what the "end of
the life/world" symbolized...rather than just literal. I think
the novel suggests there are worse things than death or
end of the world.

Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (22 of 42), Read 40 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Robert Armstrong 


Date:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 08:35 AM


Candy said: I don't feel this is an ultimately sad story...especially if you don't have regrets for your relationships you know? ….. I think the novel suggests there are worse things than death or end of the world.

Candy,

This is good. The juxtaposed themes having to do with the father/son relationship and the end of the world. Hopefulness/hopelessness. A fulfilling relationship with your parent/offspring actually overpowers the end of the world within the experience of the father and son characters in the novel. The point being that even if you’re literally among the last survivors on earth, love is the more important of the issues. So, your take that it’s ultimately not a sad story is a point well taken. This resonates with me as my father is in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital today. One could easily argue that The Road is a devastating tragedy, but today I like your take, as I prepare right now to visit my father. I just had to get this note off.

And “hell’s hockey dad” is a hoot of a phrase!

Robt, looking for the bright side


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (23 of 42), Read 32 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx


Date:

Saturday, October 14, 2006 11:28 AM


Just checking in to see if anyone has been reading this, I
am afraid to give away spoilers. I also read it again, just to
look for clues...time setting, location? Future?


SPOILERS>>>>

Robert, perhaps I shouldn't say I don't ultimately see this
as a sad story...well I mean. I am glad the boy survived.

I cried at the end too...but you know what...I really lost it
more, when they found the bunker. The idea of being so
hungry and then finding the bomb shelter all stoked, it
just made me cry. A little skinny child getting to eat.

I don't see this as particularly a futuristic story, it is
dreamlike and to understand peoples motives, one needs
to look at the world to today. People have mass diseases,
they have no food, water and other resources. Some fight
for food, some just weakly get by till donations arrive no
strength to fight.

At other book group, I was really surprised how little
compassion and understanding for the wife's suicide there
was. I mean, we don't know all the details of how long
they lived.

As for what the disaster was, my first impression was
confirmed by second reading. This is indicated to be a
human wrought event. Even a religious motivated event.
We are told the "godspoken men are gone and they took
the world with them"

And...as for a happy ending, we have been told there is no
food left. It is well described. So really the "happy ending"
for me is that the boy is with a group of people who seem
kind enough, he can play with other kids and get some
caregiving in a community. His father had put a lot of
pressure on him "as a little god" which frankly, I found
creepy. I think the dad had gone a little over the
top...maybe any of us would, and most parents think their
kids are the greatest kids in the world...but he was way
over. I was very sad when he died...but again, the boy
lucked out.

And besides, the man who took him into the group had a
gun and lots of bullets. Lets face it, when the food runs
completely out...the end will be quick.

Candy

http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (24 of 42), Read 36 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Saturday, October 14, 2006 05:21 PM


Just finished this today. Great entertainment. I didn't find it depressing. Forced to make their way through the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, the book is a wonderful affirmation of the strength of the human spirit.

It was a refreshing break from the pretentious postmodern drivel that characterizes the other contemporary fiction I've read here recently. The Road is a refreshing return to traditional values. A wonderful novel.

Michael 


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (25 of 42), Read 33 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Saturday, October 14, 2006 08:14 PM


Candy wrote:

And besides, the man who took him into the group had a gun and lots of bullets.

**************
Handcrafted shotgun shells. He is definitely a good guy.

Did you notice the recurring events where Papa works with his hands in a knowledgeable manner? Although there are some valuable talks between the boy and his father, I get the persistent feeling that talk is cheap and actions speak loud in this book.

Michael 


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (26 of 42), Read 37 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Saturday, October 14, 2006 08:37 PM


Jane wrote:

But I think that the father was a good guy.

***********
Yes. I agree with you, Jane. Papa was a good guy.

Michael


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (27 of 42), Read 43 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx 


Date:

Sunday, October 15, 2006 09:17 PM


Oh that is really cool you picked up the book
Michael...sounds like you're becoming a hard and fast fan.
Yes, I mean, I think the dad said some things I found
strange...and I didn't like when he told the old guy, Ely,
that his son was a god. I thought it was cruel when the old
man was all alone.

And I too found this an adventure story more than
anything. And because I don't think its a "futuristic" book
but rather a book about now, I think there we can see we
always try to survive. Look at the people in Africa who live
just like the road all the time, too tired to even find
food...wait till they can have some. Somehow they
persevere.

More thoughts later...
Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (28 of 42), Read 33 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 08:11 AM


Great comments, Candy. The father was cruel at times, wasn't he. One of the most important characteristics of literature is the examination of morality and the presentation of questions concerning it. Whether the father's actions were immoral or not stands constantly in the forefront.

Darn! Gotta go. Work calls.

Michael


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (29 of 42), Read 31 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Dale Short 


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 09:43 AM


I think one of the many attractions of THE ROAD, to me...and I'm coming into the home stretch...is that the apocalyptic setting magnifies, a thousand-fold, the struggle of being a "good" father in even normal circumstances.

Where does one come down, on the continuum of teaching a child to be open and loving and a good human being, versus cynical and self-serving enough to prevent Life from eating his/her lunch on a daily basis?

Reminds me of the old Nick Lowe lyric, "It's cruel to be kind, in the right measure." I agree with Michael that the morality of the father's actions is open to interpretation. But considering the goofs I made while raising a son in a "normal" world, I don't think I could have done nearly as well as this father in his circumstances.



>>Dale in Ala.

http://www.writerstoolkit.com
http://fullclearlight.blogspot.com


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (30 of 42), Read 33 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx 


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 09:59 AM


Yes, I don't want to completely come down on the dad,
and he was a determined man for sure...but there are
some questions.

He had taught his wife how to use the stone carved into a
blade to off herself. He put a lot of pressure onto his son,
and why did they wait possibly 8 years to head south? And
why were they not able to find a community sooner...than
the one at the end of the novel.

The son was a lot more open to meeting other people,
even though he too as afraid of the cannibals. But he
would have adopted Ely, or the little boy. Isn't it likely that
there would have been other bands of trustworthy folks in
their home town?

Where do you think this story took place? Where did they
walk from and to...Pennsylvania? Minnesota to Georgia?

Is it America? And what took so long to move south?

Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (31 of 42), Read 31 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Dale Short 


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 10:47 AM


Candy: Yep, the question of why wait so long to head south definitely looms large, doesn't it?

As for the landscape, I've seen a couple of reviewers who posit that the father and son begin in the mountains of East Tennessee and work their way down the Alabama/Georgia border to Florida and the Gulf Coast. It's an area I'm familiar with, and the descriptions ring true for me.

Also, I came across a Knoxville blog columnist who offers this perspective:

...Local McCarthy experts are convinced that the pair are on their way via the Carolina Piedmont—and that on the way, McCarthy describes a ruined Knoxville. From a city of interstate exchanges, the father crosses “the high concrete bridge over the river” within sight of docks, sunken pleasure boats, and smokestacks downstream, to find “an old frame house with chimneys and gables and a stone wall”...in the text, the house where the father grew up.

McCarthy, now a 72-year-old New Mexican, spent much of his first 45 years in the Knoxville area. A few weeks ago, he returned home for a reunion at Catholic High. He grew up south of the river, in a house still standing on Martin Mill Pike, which answers the description in the new book.



>>Dale in Ala.

http://www.writerstoolkit.com
http://fullclearlight.blogspot.com


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (32 of 42), Read 27 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Jane Niemeier 


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 07:21 PM


Candy and Dale,

I, too, questioned why the father waited so long to leave wherever they were. But if I start thinking about it, then I start nit-picking things like the shelf-life of canned good being only a few years, not 8 or 10. I don't know why some reviewers think the boy is 10. I think that he is much younger.

Jane


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (33 of 42), Read 30 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 08:26 PM


The study of morality is an interesting branch of philosophy. If I recall correctly, they usually divide it into two major categories, consequential and inconsequential. The inconsequential school believe that some actions are wrong in and of themselves. They are wrong no matter what. Consequential boys and girls gauge the act against the benefit of the expected result. This is subdivided into who is benefited. Consequential morality benefiting the greater group generally gets the most votes in the US. As the benefited group becomes smaller, skepticism demands one to suspect motivation shifting from noble self-sacrifice to selfishness.

The Road works this theme wonderfully. You see the father fiercely focusing his actions towards the benefit of only one person, his son. He would gladly sacrifice anyone else for his son's welfare, and with food in short supply, he tended to see anybody that ate food as a threat to his son.

My reading of text is that it supports his selfishness.

Michael 


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (34 of 42), Read 28 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 08:38 PM


"And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts."

Michael


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (35 of 42), Read 30 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 09:02 PM


Jane wrote:

I, too, questioned why the father waited so long to leave wherever they were. But if I start thinking about it, then I start nit-picking things like the shelf-life of canned good being only a few years, not 8 or 10. I don't know why some reviewers think the boy is 10. I think that he is much younger.

***********
My interpretation is that they left when the food ran out. And you're not supposed to eat canned food after a few years but, generally speaking, canned food is good for much longer. I've eaten MREs that were 7 years old and they were fine.

Michael


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (36 of 42), Read 30 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx 


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 09:16 PM


Okay Michael, very cool stuff about the two schools of
morality. I am going to read your posts a couple more
times ...but I actually agree that the father comes up on
the side of selfishness...NOT that I blame him, but I feel
perhaps something can be eked out of this novel by
exploring that...I am sure it is relevant.

Jane, I believe the boys talk and ideas could be of a much
younger child. But he was alone, not at school and only
socializing with his father...who set the tone. I mean, the
dad was surprised about where the kid picked up simple
phrases. To me that seemed so normal, kids pick up
phrases store them, and pull them out years later.

The reason I would say he was ten is because of his
stamina. An 8 year old MIGHT be able to be coaxed to
walk those long days...but coaxed would be the operative
word. A ten year old would be able to physically keep up
to a medium adult pace. And not whine too much.

Candy
http:// gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (37 of 42), Read 28 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Dale Short 


Date:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 10:40 PM


I felt that the boy was younger too, Jane. His age is never mentioned in the book, is it?

Candy, you make some good points re: his age, but the gut feeling I got as I read the story, comparing the boy's responses to my own son's childhood, was that his age was maybe seven, eight at the most. On the other hand, this kid has definitely not had a typical upbringing, so in that sense I guess all bets are off.



>>Dale in Ala.

http://www.writerstoolkit.com
http://fullclearlight.blogspot.com


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (38 of 42), Read 19 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx 


Date:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 05:35 PM


Oh okay...well maybe he could walk that far younger. I don't
know.

How long between the boy's birth, her suicide and them
going for the Road to south did you have any sense?

Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (39 of 42), Read 20 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Jane Niemeier


Date:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 05:55 PM


Michael,

I also enjoyed your posts about morality, but I think that in the world as it exists in THE ROAD, morality has gone out the window. What rules here is survival. Some people have chosen to survive no matter what, even if this means cannibalism. Others, like the father and son, have chosen to survive by hoarding food. I think that the only reason the father ate was to keep his strength in order to protect his son. I admire him for this, and I completely understand the anger he feels when the man steals all of their supplies. I don't call him selfish. I call him self-sacrificing and protective of his son.

Jane


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (40 of 42), Read 18 times


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Michael Robison


Date:

Thursday, October 19, 2006 08:21 AM


Jane wrote:

I also enjoyed your posts about morality, but I think that in the world as it exists in THE ROAD, morality has gone out the window. What rules here is survival. Some people have chosen to survive no matter what, even if this means cannibalism. Others, like the father and son, have chosen to survive by hoarding food. I think that the only reason the father ate was to keep his strength in order to protect his son. I admire him for this, and I completely understand the anger he feels when the man steals all of their supplies. I don't call him selfish. I call him self-sacrificing and protective of his son.

*****************
I agree with you about the father's actions not being selfish but, if I may, I would gently disagree with your comment that morals are nonexistent in The Road. Quite the opposite. Moral concerns are always at the forefront, even in such harsh and brutal conditions. The child frequently asks his father to confirm who are the good guys and who are the bad. My reading of the text is that there is a line drawn between good and evil. It might be a fuzzy line, but a line none the less. I interpret the text as judging the cannibals as predominantly evil, with the ones with people imprisoned in the cellar as perhaps the worst. Those having the old-fashioned baby roast probably don't rank very high on the moral scale either.

I've read McCarthy's Child of God, Suttree, No Country for Old Men, and this one, and I found this one to be the most upbeat and affirming. This is the first novel in which the good guy triumphs at the end.

Michael


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (41 of 42), Read 15 times 


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Jane Niemeier


Date:

Thursday, October 19, 2006 05:18 PM


Michael,

Wow! Upbeat! That is not how I felt after reading this book, but we each get something different from every book which is a good thing. It would be no fun to discuss books if we all had the same opinion of the book.

I have read the border trilogy, Suttree, Blood Meridian, and No Country for Old Men. I didn't have the hopeless feeling after any of those books that I did after reading The Road.

Jane


TOP | Post | Reply | Reply/Quote | Email Reply | Delete | Edit 

Previous | Next | Previous Topic | Next Topic | Entire Topic

Topic:

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy (42 of 42), Read 7 times 


Conf:

Constant Reader


From:

Candy Minx 


Date:

Friday, October 20, 2006 12:06 AM


Interesting differences.

I wouldn't call The Road upbeat...but I would say that the
novel suggests some lighter notes than all his other
novels. I wouldn't say the Border Trilogy is as hopeless
feeling...because it had people who though life was tough
and full of betrayal...they found some good times here
and there.

I don't see any hope in Blood Meridian, except maybe the
epilogue but it's so vague, who could know? It seems to
suggest there is a bigger world than just the judge and
scalphunters world...

The Road, the hope seemed to be it was at last over, heh
heh. Um, although I would imagine the idea of a people
acting kindly to the boy at the end is a sign of hope. I sure
hope they have some food, or otherwise, it's barely
hopeful...?

Love all the different insights!

Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/