I just finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which has recently been made into a movie starring Viggo Mortensen and several other cool people.For those of you who know me or ever read this blog, you might know that I have read extremely few books in my life. Now with The Road under my belt I am at exactly 26 (I will publish a post later with the complete list). So anytime I actually finish a book it is a major milestone for me. I have started a lot of books, but I never finish them if they don't completely grip me. The Road gripped. I finished it in three evenings, which is my fastest time BY FAR. Before that the record went to The Sun Also Rises which I read in about five full days.
Anyways, here's what I have to say about it:
I have NEVER been so terrified in my entire life from reading, watching, or hearing anything. The only things in my life that have caused my heart to race and my stomach to fill to its brim with anxiety like this are real-life personal experiences, and some of those did not even come close.
Seriously. It sounds insane, especially for me, but its true. The man and the boy in the book are at 100% vulnerability the entire time. They build fires in the woods at night and every single time they fall asleep I am afraid someone will see them and do awful things to them. For the most part, when they go to sleep in the book they wake up with the next line, but at that space after the period in the sentence where they fall asleep and the first words of the next sentence I am screaming inside. Not kidding.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if it was just a guy by himself, cause the guy can pretty much take care of himself, but the kid. Oh man. The kid. Since I have my own kid now, it just absolutely kills me to read about vulnerable and scared children in such awful circumstances. It totally breaks my heart.
This book does not want to make you have kids, that's for sure. If anything it made me hate that my little sweet girl has to live in a world where something like this could potentially ever happen to anyone, ever. So sad. We live in a dangerous and frightening world, even here. Anything could happen at any time. Man. I don't even like to think about it.
Because all you can do it just enjoy your time and hope that everything is cool.
Anyway, the book is amazing, gripping, terrifying, freaky, insane, and everything else like that. It is mostly a story about a father and son but more than that it is a story of complete and total desperation and the lengths a father will go to to protect his children. Nothing will stop you if you are fighting for your kid. Nothing. That's what this book is about.
Also, McCarthy is a crazy writer. Very simple. Very direct. The tension is built up quickly and let down basically never. He does not seem to try to inflect tension, it is just there. All the time. Here is the main passage that has kept my attention pretty much all day since I read it.
Standing at the edge of a winter field among rough men. The boy’s age. A little older. Watching while they opened up the rocky hillside ground with pick and mattock and brought to light a great bolus of serpents perhaps a hundred in number. Collected there for a common warmth. The dull tubes of them beginning to move sluggishly in the cold hard light. Like the bowels of some great beast exposed to the day. The men poured gasoline on them and burned them alive, having no remedy for evil but only for the image of it as they conceived it to be. The burning snakes twisted horribly and some crawled burning across the floor of the grotto to illuminate its darker recesses. As they were mute there were no screams of pain and the men watched them burn and writhe and blacken in just such silence themselves and they disbanded in silence in the winter dusk each with his own thoughts to go home to their suppers.
Like I said, holy shit. That is insane. How does someone come up with that?
I do not know.