Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cormac McCarthy's "The Road"

I've just posted a review of The Road over at Spot-on. The opening lines of the review:
Cormac McCarthy’s new novel The Road may be the most terrifying, heartbreaking and soul-crushing book I have ever read. And it is a love story.
Two thoughts that I didn't mention in the review:

First, to repeat some lines from an earlier post about "The numerology of Cormac McCarthy":
here is a striking passage, spoken by an old man the two central characters ("the man" and "the boy") meet on The Road:
When we're all gone at last there'll be nobody here but death and his days will be numbered too. 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? And that's how it will be. What's wrong with that?
Just to give you a sense of the story, that quote is one of the more comforting passages in the book.
Second, readers who are put off by the Faulknerian flights of lyricism in earlier novels may want to consider giving the writer another chance with The Road. (I happen to like McCarthy doing that Faulkner thing--though there are times when he can hit a really sour note with it.) As William Kennedy put it in his review of The Road:
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.
--Marshal Zeringue