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Wednesday, June 27, 2007


The world of Cormac McCarthy's The Road is ashened black, a dangerous shadow of the world that was. In this 2007 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, we are taken on a dark and frightening father-son journey in a post apocalyptic world filled with unimaginable horror and danger. McCormac's gripping, powerful description ensnares the reader and pulled me into this cold, gray, disheartening world. On the road, a father and his very young son struggle to reach the coast, not knowing what, if anything, they will find there but desperately trying not to lose hope even as the struggle for survival becomes almost more than either can bear.

The destruction of one world creates another for these two--they become each other's entire world. Armed only with a pistol, their total belongings loaded into a cart, they push on together, wary of any humans they might encounter, humans who will capture and use anything they find in any way to ensure their own survival.

Rising above the horror, the man instills a humanistic viewpoint in his son. They are the good guys, and there must be other good guys out there somewhere. It is the job of the good guys to guard the fire. The boy wants to share their meager possessions with people they pass. He convinces his father to help some, but finds it hard to understand why they cannot help everyone. The man hates to make the boy feel he is heartless, but he is concerned with their survival. In fact, the pistol's single bullet’s sole purpose is to prevent the pair being taken by marauders and body hunters.

Yet, this book is not about despair; it is about hope and love. It rises above the moment to reveal tremendous strength, boundless, selfless love, and beautiful faith in the basic goodness that will hopefully bring the world back to life--if the destruction is conquerable. The book becomes a story of love and redemption.

McCarthy's language is powerful and intensely vivid. He interjects biblical and mythological allusions, creating a tale that is horrific and uplifting at the same time. The father saves the boy's spirit and leaves him as a leader in rebuilding a world gone dark and hostile.

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