The Road by Cormac McCarthy

August 24, 2009 at 1:41 am | Posted in 4 stars, Book Reviews, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

There’s definitely something to be said for doing one thing and doing it well. In The Road, just about every word is intended to further evoke its grim, post-apocalyptic atmosphere. Everything superfluous to this goal has been boiled away, leaving a short but very effective book. A man and his son are trekking across the wasteland. If you’ve read enough books, seen enough movies, or even played enough video games, then you’re probably pretty familiar with post-Apocalyptic America. McCarthy doesn’t show you anything new, he just does a better job in showing it than anyone else does.

It’s very close to a perfect book in a specialized sense: the author set certain goals and executed them. If, like me, you hope for more than just momentary immersion when you read novels, you’ll probably come away feeling impressed but unsatisfied. But for many people, the conjunction of setting, mood, and character McCarthy manages in The Road makes it a great novel. You don’t win the Pulitzer Prize if you’re leaving most readers unsatisfied.

Luckily, at its relatively short length, I can recommend it to virtually everyone. You may or may not find it precisely to your tastes, but it’s worth your time to find out.


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