The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a book review

I come to review this book as a self-described McCarthy-ite. I enjoy his style, the simple yet beautiful lines, the deliberate action, the formless dialogue, the imagery, the characters, etc. He is a phenomenal author and I’ve never read anything quite like him. I’ve found his style puts others off and that’s fine. McCarthy’s pieces don’t quite fit into what many people define (narrowly) as a novel, or what a novel “should” be. I love it. His prose is beautiful to read, plain as it might seem to some. There is something to be said for the way the text looks on the paper, for the rhythm in which the sentences flow as you read.

My first foray into McCarthy was The Road. The sparsity of McCarthy’s writing is why it’s so good. You get so little but each piece is so essential. The form of the writing informs the tale itself. It is a sparse world and the structure of the novel supports that idea. The characters do not have names because names do not matter here. What matters is there is a father and his son. The world has ended and the two struggle to survive.

The Road is dark, brutal, uncompromising. It goes on, as roads do, each step difficult and powerful. But there are moments of light amidst the darkness. Brief periods that bring some little hope in a destroyed world that was once ours. You may not know the man and the boy’s names, but you know them as they travel, as they face grueling encounters, all the while the imagery McCarthy gives you is precious, dark and beautiful.

This is one of the best pieces of post-apocalyptic fiction out there. You should at least give it a try, for if the style grabs you there is a wealth of fantastic writing beyond this work.

(If you liked this review or are curious about other McCarthy writing, I wrote a review of Blood Meridian as well.)


2 thoughts on “The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a book review”

    1. Thanks, I’m glad you’re interested. I’d say there’s a couple different ones to try, depending on your tastes. If you like post-apocalypse or gritty sci-fi, go for The Road. If you like Westerns, you could go for All The Pretty Horses, which if you enjoy is the first of The Border Crossing series.


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