When you read Cormac McCarthy you quickly find yourself aware of the fact you are under the spell of a true wordsmith. Like Hemingway, the poetry of his prose lies not in embellishments, but in the dialogue and story telling. In fact there is no superfluous punctuation or grammar in the entire book—which is a feat considering that I use superfluous punctuation and grammar in just about every paragraph. Cormac also is not shy about placing entirely made up words into his writing, but unlike Don King, contextually the words make perfect sense and generally mean exactly what they sound like they should mean. I can imagine that Cormac is an ace Balderdash player to say the least.
The tale itself is a bleak post-apocalyptic survival story about a father and his son. If it were not for the way he writes, the first 99% of the book would be intolerable on the grounds of the miserable and increasingly cliché subject matter. But as it is written it is hard to put down. Then something happens in the last page. There is one paragraph that makes every hour you spent on “The Road” worth every bleak second. It is perhaps the best single paragraph I have ever read.
Those 50 some odd words not only alter how you view the entire work as a whole, they may change the way you look at life.
If you are the type of person who has the ability to finish what you started, read this fucking book. If you aren’t capable, or if you are going to find yourself tempted to read the last paragraph before finishing… Then don’t read it. The last paragraph has no magic unless the rest of the 200 pages before it have been properly digested.
Bought this book after reading this review and I just completed it earlier today. It was absolutely incredible and like your review said – the first 99% of the book would be intolerable if not for Cormac’s writing style – the somewhat repetitive and miserable subject matter didn’t fail to keep me glued to the pages. I had a slight urge to skip to the end and read the last paragraph that you spoke of but I’m glad I didn’t. The beauty of it resonated with me more powerfully that way than had I skipped ahead – it’s true the previous few hundred pages must be absorbed and properly digested.
The only downside to this book is that I now realize that I am incredibly un-skilled in the art of writing; at least compared to how excellently Cormac weaves words together.
Excellent recommendation WarriorPoet. And to all those that are thinking of reading this book, Don’t Hesitate. Just commit yourself to it and you will be greatly rewarded.
I’m gonna start on the Cosmic Serpent at first light. I’m looking forward to the knowledge that one contains.
Right on man, yea the cosmic serpent is a great read. Props to you for not skipping ahead on the road! Let me know what you think of any of the other books